This year’s Future Architect symposium at Russia’s Strelka Institute boasted a more experimental and interactive identity than most.
Visitors wielding the event’s accompanying AR app would be greeted with pulsating information boards, as if conference branding had been reimagined through the lens of the original Blade Runner. On entering the conference room, it was impossible to tell where the stage ended and the screen began—both seamlessly merged into a single black and white grid in which speakers seemed to float within a 3D modelling interface.
Moscow-based designer Ira Ivanova looked to reflect the conference’s titular theme of the future of architecture through creating an identity using panoramas and 3D software. The result is not just on-point for the purpose of the design brief: Iranova’s Future Architecture branding is an exemplary case study in how to address new technologies and contemporary issues around brand design boldly and succinctly.
Ivanova’s design neatly summarizes the platforms architects are increasingly exploring. “The main trend that architecture is heading towards is using VR and panoramas to design and present projects,” she says. “Architects are also using game design tech, and they can’t work without 3D software. I drew on these for the identity.”
By drawing from 3D imagery in this way, Ivanova crafted an entire world for the conference identity that effectively engaged with the social platforms that all contemporary conference designers must consider when branding festivals. When visitors at Future Architecture photographed speakers on the stage, the resulting images were striking—each individual picture acted as miniature posters for the event as they circulated online. Generally, conference photographs tend to be dull and predictable: a speaker on a branded stage in front of a glowing screen. Ivanova’s concept finds a holistic and impactful branding purpose for the conference stage: it recognizes that today, a talk will live on on social media and in the form of online videos, and so treats the stage like a televised set—a key icon to represent an event online.
“We wanted it to reflect the overall identity not just in terms of graphics, but in terms of its physical construction,” says Ivanova.
For the conference website, Ivanova created a series of panoramas. “I designed the grid and overlaid it with graphics, then uploaded the image as a panorama. It then warped, and this became the identity,” she says. “Then, of course, you can pan through a panorama, so I made this an interactive element on the site. We did the same with Facebook posts, so that you never see a regular static image, but rather a panorama that reacts to your scroll and the position of your phone.”
As well as the interactive website, the AR app created by Strelka graduate Ivan Puzyrev brought posters to life and reacted to the viewers’ movements. It updated regularly, so that the posters around the event would continually show what lecture was currently happening, and what was next. Recently, designers have been experimenting with AR for conference identities—such as Milk Studio’s interactive posters for the Weltformat design festival. Concepts like Ivanova’s make playful use of what conference visitors carry in their pocket—carefully considering the branding potential of the second screen they engage with, when not looking up at that of the actual show.