When Italy’s friendliest, up-and-coming design studio, the exuberant Studio Mut, got the call to re-do the identity for this year’s Trieste Estate summer festival, it came up against a challenge that every burgeoning studio eventually must face. Its 2015 identity for the same event was widely lauded, and now it was being asked to do the same thing all over again.

How do you reinvent something that worked so perfectly, and was so loudly celebrated, the first time round? Do you stick with the same, or move onto something new?

Last year, juicy-looking watermelons and refreshing glasses of Aperol spritz conveyed a summery mood. As the studio’s co-founder Thomas Kronbichler says, “they were approachable, and they’re lovable.”

I interviewed Studio Mut last year and was intrigued by its general approach. For everything—whether identity or branding project—it always begins with the poster, sketching straight on the screen, and creating reams of compositions on InDesign until it finds a perfect combination of shape, tone, and color. “We like the limitation, the frame of the poster,” explains junior designer Annelous Konijnenberg.

So when the follow-up call came, the team assumed it would be simple. “We’d made so many sketches last year,” says Kronbichler. “We thought we’d just take one of those and tweak it a bit.”

Inevitably, it didn’t feel right to simply do opt for repetition. “Last year was so simple, and we didn’t want to be repetitive.” It felt important that the blinding, glowing sun remain across the identity—after all, it’s a summer festival, and that gorgeous yellow circle has become a crucial part of the Trieste Estate brand. Kronbichler and co wanted to communicate another kind of summer feeling this time, something uplifting and abstract, like that golden moment when a faint breeze hits you on a hot day at the beach.

“We also knew that we wanted to use stripes,” Kronbichler recalls, and so they drew from the emphatic slashes of bright color created by towels and umbrellas on the sand. Experimenting with folding and scanning stripped paper eventually culminated in an abstract set of compositions; the swift stripes twisted and distorted across the yellow sun on the poster like a towel being shaken in the wind. Studio Mut had found the visuals for its second summer feeling.

“We’re glad that we didn’t just go with the easy route and do a variation of the first one simply because it’s loveable,” says Kronbichler.

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