Sofia Pusa’s original festival branding evokes the spirit of Scandinavian dance

If you live outside Scandinavia, contemporary dance is not something you naturally associate with the region. But the Nordic countries are full of cutting-edge dance talent. So in 2010, dance organizations in Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway joined forces to organize Ice Hot Nordic Dance, a festival in Stockholm promoting its greatest practitioners.

The event has continued to grow, with further events held in Helsinki in 2012, Oslo in 2014, Copenhagen in 2016 and Reykjavik in 2018. And this summer, Ice Hot Helsinki 2022 brought together 200 ice cream professionals Nordic dance and nearly 300 theater and festival directors from all over the world. the world to the Finnish capital.

To mark the event, held at Dance House Helsinki and other venues across the city from June 29 to July 3, organizers reached out to Sofia Pusa, whose branded refresh we featured for an agency of Finnish photography in February.

Based between London and Helsinki, Sofia is a freelance, multidisciplinary creative director, designer and illustrator specializing in branding across the lifestyle, arts and culture, fashion and music industries. Her work has been awarded numerous prizes in national and international competitions, and she served on the jury of the Finnish design competition Vuoden Huiput.

The brief

“Ice Hot Nordic Dance is an international dance platform and event showcasing contemporary Nordic dance to hundreds of international programmers, presenters, programmers and other professionals around the world,” explains Sofia. It includes more than 20 stage performances, 15 pitch presentations and a series of conferences and seminars, where artists, producers and broadcasters discuss burning issues in the field.

“As the event typically takes place in winter, in the darkness of the North, the goal was to showcase the northern nature in the visuals,” says Sofia, “as well as embodying the event’s ability to bring light into the darkness and create a unique environment. Warm atmosphere, despite the cold of winter.”

The concept

In response to the brief, Sofia drew a parallel between the movements of the dancers and that of the famous Aurora Borealis. In his words, “The visuals and colors of the new visual identity are inspired by the natural wonder of the Northern Lights, dancing across the winter sky.”

She was also inspired by the juxtaposition of hot and cold, bold and delicate, suggested by the title of the event. “It resulted in a typographic treatment and a memorable logo,” she says. “The logo can live on its own when needed, but also becomes inviting and alive when the illustrations and animations start to come into play.”

The main typeface, Labil Grotesk by Kometa, is an original sans serif font with tilt and rotation. This plays with themes of balance, gravity, movement and self-expression, reflecting the nature of contemporary dance and the platform itself.

Sofia paired it with the high-contrast font Orelo, from Pizza Typefaces, to position the visual identity for a modern audience, while her illustrations are endlessly adaptable, creating visual variation across different touchpoints.

Why we love it

The results speak for themselves. We love how this visual identity incorporates the sense of color, life and movement that a great dance festival demands in an original, quirky and inventive way that avoids the trappings of cliché and generic.

We also like the fresh and inventive way the aurora borealis is used as inspiration, without an overly literal interpretation drowning the design in familiarity. And the typographic treatment beautifully respects the boundary between eccentricity and readability.

About Hannah Schaeffer

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