ADCR is the Russian office of the international Art Directors’ Club and of the eponymous professional creative, design and advertisement competition. The competition’s visual style changes every year, but it always revolves around associations with “Russian-ness” and how to communicate our country’s image. In 2020, the ADCR Awards changed: they became more contemporary, more relevant nomination categories were added, and we wanted to reflect this “leveling-up” with new branding.
This project was unique in that we had the opportunity to use our subjective take on the agency and our personal associations on what would best reflect Russia in design. We decided that first and foremost, we had to showcase the coexistence of sensitivity and romanticism with brutality and roughness.
We developed a unique font especially for the project. It is our interpretation of Helvetica, the signature of good design anywhere. The cultural tie-in for its creation was Constructivism’s brutal aesthetic: radically simplified and rough, it comes into its own in contrast with the smooth, sensitive lines of Helvetica. The result was a stylized but familiar font, capable of turning text in any format into a direct reflection of ADCR’s unique voice.
We used the font in creating motion graphics, too: an agile digital cloud fills the space of filmed footage, instantly announcing that we are talking about the prize’s contemporary, relevant, real and digital nature. Our dynamic branding works independent of its background: ready-made presents let us create animations that can fill and anchor any format. If needed, any stop-frame of an animation can be turned into a static image. This approach helps us put this branding into action at all contact points, including social, web, merch and the awards ceremony itself.
Visually, Russia as depicted in Levitan’s paintings or Gronsky’s photographs is closest to us. This is the aesthetic of romantic realism, the admiration of imperfection, landscapes and architectural forms. We used a cinematic language to show this and traveled to the Moscow region to shoot all kinds of videos, creating low-contrast, slightly unfinished but tender and sensitive sketches. ADCR Awards 2020 will take place in the year of pandemic and quarantine, and we intentionally avoided putting people in frame, capturing that part of our contemporary reality.