London design studio North has collaborated with Peter Saville to craft the new visual identity for Factory International – the organisation overseeing Manchester International Festival and managing Aviva Studios, the city's dynamic new cultural space.
The identity for Factory International by North and Saville draws inspiration from the new arts hub on Water Street, an architectural marvel designed by Ellen van Loon, a renowned partner and lead architect at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA).
Its unusual angles and white facade proved the perfect starting point for Factory International's identity with a symbol that mimics its unique shape – one that also blends with the iconic look of previous Factory Records identities.
The wider identity, meanwhile, is designed to act as a canvas that's ever-evolving, much like the dynamic nature of the building itself, as it can adapt to suit different performances and purposes. "It's a new type of performance space, a unique crossover between a fixed theatre and flexible warehouse," explains Ellen van Loon. "Super-sized moveable walls enable endless configurations within a large space, allowing audiences unexpected vistas of performers. I hope that whenever people visit, they experience something different, as if they encounter a different building each time."
Looking at the rich typography, North's font choice is the same one used for the past three Manchester International Festivals. It's the crisp monospace cut of Gräebenbach by Camelot. Clean and functional, it pairs perfectly with the main symbol, with Gräebenbach Mono Black uppercase used for headlines for maximum standout and personality, Graebenbach Mono Bold for the website, and support body copy from the same family but featured in Bold and Regular.
In terms of the colour palette, expect vibrant hues across all brand communications. However, when it comes to marketing materials for productions and events, these could sport any shade, reflecting the theme of the day.
Factory International's new website and the building itself will also feature a monochrome ticker tape information system. "It's all about crafting a consistent language for its audience," explains North.
Alongside today's big reveal of its new identity, Factory International is celebrating the people who helped build its new home by launching a vinyl record and accompanying film. Titled Factory Works, it was created by artist Neville Gabie and musician/DJ Nabihah Iqbal in collaboration with the construction crew and manufacturers involved in creating Aviva Studios. The record itself mixes industrial sounds with snippets of conversations – all underpinned with original electronic music.
Fifteen hundred copies of the limited-edition artwork are available to buy online and at Aviva Studios. Every worker from the factories, together with the whole on-site workforce, will receive their own copy of the vinyl album. Each has a unique sleeve artwork designed by North, thanks to Peter Saville.
Also marking the launch of Aviva Studios is Free Your Mind, a journey into The Matrix through dance and immersive design. As the official opening show, the never-seen-before production stretches across the building's ultra-flexible spaces. The show's description reads, "It taps into the collective energy of the moment and depicts a world where humans are enslaved by algorithms, asking, can we break free? And do we even want to?"
Directed by Manchester's own Danny Boyle, it features hip hop choreography by Kenrick 'H2O' Sandy and a powerful score from composer Michael 'Mikey J' Asante – co-founders of Boy Blue – alongside eye-opening staging from world-leading designer Es Devlin, words from acclaimed writer Sabrina Mahfouz, and costumes by iconic fashion designer Gareth Pugh. You can discover more of what's in store for Factory International's new home at factoryinternational.org.
"I see Factory International, and its new home, as a two-way portal between Manchester and the world, through the broadest medium of the arts," concludes Peter Saville, who co-founded Factory Records in 1978 alongside Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus. "The world comes in through it, and Manchester goes out through it. It is itself a signifier of intent and ambition, so it's inspiring."
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