Issue #51

Modernist Throwbacks

A blend of modern and retro design in branding is influencing events.

Warm colors. Sleek, stained woods. Serif fonts. These are but a few of the features that comprise the retro and mid-century-modern-inspired design trends that have swept the branding world and are now popping up in events, in furniture at events and in event themes.

It begins in the yogurt aisle, where Chobani recently unveiled its new identity and packaging, evolving its geometric logo into a “rich, smooth, curvy, chunky serif” font that is an “example of the slowly rising trend of serif typography,” Under Consideration describes. The logo’s primary use is in a forest green color against a “natural” color backdrop on packaging, rather than stark white. Brands in other spaces have gone modern as well. Dropbox recently transformed its logo from a clear “box” icon to an abstract symbol. Kodak paid homage to its history with its recent branding overhaul inspired by the red and yellow marque it used during the 1970s and ’80s.

In the event world, where “work” has been steadily blending with comfort, the style helps warm up convention center spaces, helps events make best use of small spaces, and supports a variety of aesthetics. Take HSBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, which took over a space on the main strip and created a modernist café and lounge “designed to be reconfigurable and reusable.” It played host to product demos and networking.

At the New York International Auto Show, automaker after automaker injected mid-century modern themes into exhibits, like the use of wood, cabinetry, warm tones, simple bucket-style seating, leather, and large residential-feeling lamps. The themes were sometimes in stark contrast to the high-technology stories the brands were telling.

The New York Times recently investigated the proliferation of mid-century modern themes and furniture. In the piece, “Why Won’t Midcentury Design Die?”, experts reflected on the style’s popularity, describing it as having a “wide appeal,” “specifically made to be democratic and to be lived with,” as evidence that “America is urbanizing again,” and that it is “intuitive to smaller spaces.”

Sounds like a recipe for modern event design.

Trend A blend of modern and retro design in branding is influencing events.

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