Cult 20 Years, Event & Exhibition by Toko
Opinion by Richard Baird
In 2017 Australian furniture retailer Cult celebrated its 20th anniversary. They marked this with an event and exhibition and worked with design studio Toko to develop a graphic identity to unify these and bring to light their extensive catalogue. Through a mix of bright illustrative silhouettes across invitations, packaging, postcards, flags and banners, the art direction of some Cult’s ranges, and an eye-catching bright red die cut cover, Toko play with a graphic immediacy and follow this up with layers of material and photographic detail.
Cult began as a designer furniture retailer in 1997 and has gone on to support new designers in Australia and New Zealand through award programs and the development of its own ranges, check out BP&O’s review of NAU. This mix of curation and creation has established Cult as a well-regarded industry brand and champion of modern furniture design nationally.
Taking the distinctive profiles and silhouettes of the iconic, enduring and emerging, Toko’s illustrative approach functions to collate and elevate a diverse catalogue, deliver something of a simple aesthetic pleasure and establish a unified and compelling visual dialogue between disparate objects with their own rich histories and stories.
Colour clearly plays with retrospection and modernity—well-suited to an anniversary and the type of furniture Cult stocks—and alongside distinctive forms makes for a striking gesture. This is amplified by the range of printed materials. These included posters, banners and postcards throughout event and exhibition space.
The brochure is made up of two components, illustration and art direction. As you might hope for a furniture company, the cover has a strong material quality in its bright, Cult red dyed uncoated board and its die cutting. This intersection of the graphic and material is a subtle rather than bold expression, but develops into a neat and recurring graphic motif inside. The absent circles of the cover appear in print, across the postcards implying something of a portfolio, and on the cover of the brochure calling to mind confetti, a neat nod to the celebratory nature of the event.
Art direction, in contrast to the bold simplicity of illustration, is visually rich in detail, emphasised by arrangement, light and shade. There is a graphic component in some of the backgrounds so there is a slight continuity between illustration and art direction. It is essentially a chance to pair illustrative silhouettes with the real thing. The result is a layered and increasingly granular solution, beginning with the material subtlety of cover, moving to bright cheerful silhouettes, and finishing on the more conventional yet revealing qualities of photography. More work by Toko on BP&O.
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