Guerewol Festival 2019 is a Student Winner in the Visual Communication category of the 2020 Core77 Design Awards competition.
As a rebranding challenge, Kenneth Kuh, a design student at ArtCenter gambled on creating a visual system for a pretty unexpected event that ultimately led to a winning design awards project.
His winning visual identity was designed for the Guerewol Festival, an annual courtship ritual competition among the Wodaabe Fula people of Niger. Guerewol is a fascinating cultural practice that involves, as Kuh describes it, as "ornamented young men dancing the 'Yaake' in a line, facing a young marriageable woman, sometimes repeatedly over a seven-day period, and for hours on end in the desert sun." The ritual is more traditional than other events we tend to associate with the word 'festival' in modern times, but it does manage to attract tourists aware of the practice each year. Kuh wanted to envision a brand identity for the event to attract an even wider global interest in the Wodaabe's unique culture.
As a winner in the Visual Communication student category of the 2020 Core77 Design Awards, the visual identity received some outstanding reviews from this year's jury team. Jury Captain & Pentagram Partner Eddie Opara said of the project, "What can I say? Incredibly expressive in every part—from the aspects of the shape, form, composition, typography, movement, suspense, how it connects into the interactions in videos." Champions Design Founding Partner Bobby C. Martin Jr. added to the sentiment, saying "for me, the typography was something that wasn't just typed out. It was something that had a lot of craft and attention paid to it and that's part of what made it so unique."
For Kuh, the main inspiration behind this project was simply joy. "The idea of emphasizing on the 'pleasure' nature and making it into a tribe was further expanded into a logo mark that resembles a welcoming smile," Kuh writes in his Core77 awards entry. The bright graphics and bold typography exist as reflection of the Wodaabe people and to emphasize what the festival is all about: love and happiness. Kuh says his design is meant to "encourage [people] to move their bodies around and practice celebration of love and beauty in the desert...and eventually achieve pure happiness."
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