Every year, Sehsüchte appears in a new look. One more reason to take a closer look at the design and its special features. Birte Rauch (24) and Carl-Friedrich Richter (30) are responsible for this year’s graphic design. In an interview with Eva Lütticke from the Sehsüchte team, the two reveal how the Sehsüchte design came about – from the initial idea to the visual identity of the festival.
What was the attraction for you to create the design for Sehsüchte?
Birte: For me, it’s mainly a personal connection, as I’ve visited the festival every year since I’ve lived in Potsdam. We were particularly attracted by the diversity of the Sehsüchte design. Otherwise you have one job – a poster design or a postcard – and here there are just so many different aspects.
What exactly is part of the visual identity of Sehsüchte?
Birte: It starts with the basic idea which was developed based on the festival’s theme. We had to think about the visual look and how the feeling of the festival can be transported. And then, of course, all the sub-aspects that go along with it: From print products such as posters, postcards or the programme booklet to the adaptation of the web design and finally even moving images.
Carl: It is particularly exciting to develop the basic idea further and to see how it can be applied to the respective products. Will our ideas work out? That’s what makes graphic design so exciting, that we are always faced with new challenges.
What is your favourite product that you had developed for Sehsüchte?
Birte: Our favourite product is the programme booklet. When designing it, it was especially important for us to inspire you again and again to break with tradition.
Carl: Absolutely! It is the most complex product of all. An incredible number of aspects come together in the programme booklet. I think in the end we succeeded very well in balancing practicality and aesthetics.
How does the creative process work for you? You will get an order for a product and then what happens next?
Birte: White Boards. (laughs)
Carl: At first we have no idea and afterwards we always have a lot of ideas. What happens in between actually starts mostly on the whiteboard.
Birte: In your case, we started in the classic way with a brainstorming session and a huge mind map. That’s always super helpful. Then there is a lot of research. We try to find out: What does the theme mean to me and what images do I have in my head?
Carl: Also we always look at the past. What has worked well so far and what has not. What do our customers want and what don’t they want? We take all that into account in the process. The biggest hurdle at the beginning is to find the point where the mind continues to work on its own and produces images. In your case, we have chosen a very exciting approach: In this year’s theme “ignite” – for us there is one thing above all: starting points for movements, in all possible directions. We have created a programme that makes these movements visible and thus finally provides us with the key visual.
Birte: The origin of the key visual was the Sehsüchte logo – the flame, which was then modified several times. The challenge was to get from the moving image to a still image. To choose one perfect image out of hundreds of stills. Why is the picture better than the picture a second before?
Who has the last word? Or are such decisions always a heated debate?
Birte: We come to an agreement at some point. It happens relatively organically. Carl simply has much more experience because he has been working in this field for a long time and I trust him when he says that something works well.
Carl: The feeling is mutual.
Birte: Well, we haven’t had an argument about a photo yet.. (laughs)
What materials do you prefer to work with? Are there any particular techniques or programmes you use in the design process?
Birte: A sheet of paper and a pen to make sketches. Sure, working digitally is fun and cool, but paper and pen in your hand is something entirely different.
Carl: I’m also a real paper and pencil guy. It’s a more direct medium before starting with layout software. The transfer from head to product usually takes longer and you get a rather disappointing result in the first attempt. This is dangerous, because it can lead to good ideas being rejected because the first result is disappointing. It is therefore worth sketching out a good plan beforehand.
Are there any design no-goes for you?
Birte: I don’t think so. Taste is totally different. Maybe designing things that end up in the rubbish is not so cool.
So the sustainability factor plays a role?
Carl: Sustainability always has different aspects.Its not cool to design things which end up in the rubbish. As a designer, this is often difficult to influence. For example, what happens to a graphic after we have sold it? But we try to implement design ideas which have a certain timelessness. In that way, a process doesn’t have to be started all over again, but can be built upon. And of course we can also advise our customers, for example on the printing process.
Birte: We also consider how long-lasting the things themselves are. That’s what we’ve tried for Sehsüchte, for example with the programme booklet. How stable should it be? Does it go straight into the bin after the festival week or does it still look nice and I’d rather keep it.
Carl: Or let’s take team wear: Are the things designed in such a way that I still like to wear them afterwards? Or do I feel like a living advertising pillar when I wear the jumper?
You were just starting your business and then Corona came along. What were the challenges for you last year?
Birte: I think it’s a big problem that at the moment, for example, many events are being cancelled, which means that our opportunities to get involved are shrinking.
Carl: What I find difficult is the changed form of communication between the participants in a project. Otherwise, people met and exchanged ideas, which is a central issue in design – to communicate ideas quickly and to present things to each other. It has become a different way of working. If we both didn’t have each other here to give each other feedback, it would be…
Birte: very lonely work.
Carl: And I think the results would also reflect that in the end.
You work together and live together. Are there advantages to being so close together?
Birte: Definitely. We had to learn not to discuss things in between doors or over dinner. It doesn’t always work out, but we’ve made it our goal.
Carl: In general, you have to be careful not to mix work and private life too much. That is a process of course which also has become even more important due to Corona. The fact that we are both at home all the time doesn’t mean that we are always on call for each other. What should also not be neglected is the fun! Although this was our first major project together, we didn’t have too little of it.
Birte: No, definitely not!