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Hidden Characters | EKF2023



After Pécs, another Hungarian city will be the European Capital of Culture (EKF) in 2023, the modern image of which with a multilayer message and an européer perspective was designed by Hidden Characters. We interviewed Dániel Nagy and Péter Orbán.

After designing the public transport logos in Budapest and the control system at Erzsébet tér, the EKF project was a relatively new landscape for Hidden Characters. Before starting the effective work, they have, of course, studied the program in Pécs from 2010 together with the design of several other cultural events, in which they not necessarily examined the specific image elements, but rather looked for the appropriate atmosphere: what they convey and what they highlight. The greatest help for them, however, was still the detailed brief with which Veszprém, beating six other cities, won the EKF tender. This exact document, according to Dani and Péter, sums up the buzzwords as well as the cultural, social and economic aspects quite nicely. “We looked at it each day, it gave us many ideas and inspiration for design” – they explained.

The same as in their previous works, they started brainstorming together in this project, too. “Our best concepts usually come to us by playing ping pong back and forth with the ideas. We think together, we sketch – this lasts for two to three days, and then we talk about principles, and search for the best methods of display. In the case of the EKF2023 program, all this resulted in two designs. The first was an explicitly abstract concept, in which we wanted to formulate European diversity in the language of geometry – we wanted to highlight the common intersection of the different cultures, which is, in effect, the European identity. And yes, this is not a bottle of milk you draw a cow on and voilà (they laugh). Finding a visual form that is abstract enough to allow multiple interpretations and so to encompass a wider spectrum of the subject, and, which is, at the same time, palpable and comprehensible for people – this is where the difficulty lies. In our other design, (which ultimately won the tender) we came one step closer to this idea…” – they added.

The graphic designers selected by the professional jury featuring Anna Farkas, Eszter Laki, Can Togay, László Hegyeshalmi and Gábor Gerhesde_formGraphasel Design StudioHidden CharactersMesterházy ÁkosPeltan-Brosz Studio and Andrej Tóth could work on the new image of EKF from the end of August. The works were evaluated in October, and the jury unequivocally chose the design of Hidden Characters at the final voting.

“There were several quite fine designs, but maybe we could stand out a bit because we could show some extra potential with which our application left the classic image-logo-design line. Although our basic idea was the shining, or a kind of new enlightenment caused by the title of European Capital of Culture (both in people and the entire region), our image plan encompasses many more. It is a universal sparkle, which can be a book that we unfold, a crown, as Veszprém is the city of queens, and a kind of propagation, as well: light and sound are marked with this, too. On top of it all, it interacts with its environment quite well, therefore it offers unlimited creative and multifunctional opportunities to the related graphical applications” – told us Dani and Péter.

The 110-page detailed image manual was completed at the end of November, in which they provided detailed specifications for everything starting from intro animations to the aspect ratios of different types of posters. “This marked the end of an intensive phase; the graphic designers of the project team of EKF2023 already use the logo and signs designed by us successfully in their daily communication. We also plan further additional collaborations. We’ll see” – the designers told us.

Photos: Csaba Födémesi

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