The Brand Identity

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Leo Porto & Felipe Rocha are Brazilian designers based in New York. We caught up with them to talk about a few of their joint projects they’ve worked on together.

Would you be able to introduce yourselves?

Leo: I am a Brazilian graphic designer living in Brooklyn, New York. Currently working as a Senior Designer at Collins.

Felipe: Also a designer, also Brazilian and also based in NY. Right now I have a full time job at Spotify as a Senior Art Director and I sometimes take projects on the side. I’m particularly interested in opportunities where I can use design as a tool to promote things I care about, such as diversity, immigration and LGBTQ+ rights.

Can you tell us about your paths from Brazil to working in New York?

Leo: My move from São Paulo to New York was quite unplanned. I had always pictured myself going to college in Brazil and working at some advertising agency (I thought that was my only option in order to pursue a creative career).

I had just completed an internship program at Young & Rubicam on my last year of high school and was about to enroll into college in São Paulo but decided to apply to the School of Visual Arts at the very last minute because of its design-focused advertising curriculum. After a year of advertising at SVA I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do so I switched to graphic design.

Four years later, having graduated from SVA and having had the opportunity to work and learn from many inspiring people, staying in New York and continuing my career here felt like a natural move.

Felipe: I did a technical course in graphic design during high school and got my first design job at 17, which is very common in Brazil, especially for people who can’t afford to pay for college but need to find a job.

I worked in Advertising for a few years and opened a small design studio with my friends in parallel. In 2012 I got a scholarship at Fabrica (Benetton’s creative lab in Italy), learned a lot there, and came back to Brazil to finish my bachelor degree a year later.

I finally graduated from college, had no concrete plans to move abroad again but one day I randomly sent an email to Jessica Walsh asking for a job and I guess it worked out.  

How did you meet and start working together?

Leo: Besides two small Twitter interactions (lol) we didn’t really meet until about 3 years ago when Felipe made his move to New York and started working at Sagmeister & Walsh. My roommate Pedro Sanches, who also worked there at the time introduced us. We started working together mostly to help each other out on freelance projects when the work was too much. Now we (live and) take on projects together.

“Bonde started from the desire to connect Brazilian creatives living in NY.”

What is Bonde? And why did you decide to start it together?

Bonde started from the desire to connect Brazilian creatives living in NY. We imagined it to be a small gathering at first, but as more and more people showed interest in it and more partners such as Collins and FLAGCX came in to support it, we realized Bonde could be a bigger platform — one that could not only connect Brazilian designers amongst themselves, but most importantly, connect Brazilian designers to rest of the world. The first edition of Bonde happened last July in Brooklyn and brought together over 350 people, 10 speakers, 80 publications and 2 pop-up exhibitions.

What is the thinking behind the Bonde brand?

We wanted to create a visual identity that was easily recognisable and that felt Brazilian in some way without resorting to Brazilian visual clichés (super colourful, ornamental, tropical, etc). We were also careful about the need to design a system that didn’t overshadow the speaker’s work.

The bright yellow, which is such a remarkable aspect of Bonde, was a pretty spontaneous choice we made when trying to decide what our Instagram profile picture should be. We didn’t have Bonde’s branding figured out at that point so picking a colour seemed like an easy solution — bright yellow felt right so we went with it.

For typography we decided to go with Marr Sans Condensed* because we felt an immediate sense of Brazilian nostalgia when we tested it out. It was hard to pinpoint where that feeling was coming from, but looking back, we think it has to do with the typographic vernacular of old Brazilian editorial design (newspaper ads, magazines, yellow pages, street pamphlets, etc).

*Disclaimer: We picked Marr Sans Condensed way before Commercial Type sponsored us, so no bias there.

“We are hoping to expand Bonde into a bigger platform and to reach a broader audience.”

How challenging was it to arrange everything?

It was an arduous and challenging process for us. We had no experience organising an event like this and didn’t really know where to start. Without a previous event to give us credibility, finding sponsors was particularly exhaustive. We also found ourselves in an in-between place where Brazilian companies couldn’t justify investing abroad, and companies in New York found it hard to justify investing in such a niche event.

Branding was by far the chillest part of the whole process (partly because we were designing for ourselves). There were lots of moving parts that had to be figured out, from getting a venue, food vendors, staff, furniture, speakers, flight tickets, transportation, hundreds of emails and countless other things that definitely left us overwhelmed. But at the end of the day we learned a lot through it and the outcome of our first conference far outweighed the challenges we faced.

What are your plans for the future of Bonde?

We are hoping to expand Bonde into a bigger platform and to reach a broader audience. Currently, Instagram (@bonde.br) is our main channel but we have plans to launch a new website in a couple of months that will host different kinds of content, articles and a directory of Brazilian professionals. We are also planning to organise other smaller events soon and hopefully bring Bonde to other cities and countries in the near future, including Brazil of course.

What inspired your approach to typography and colour for the Flygrl brand?

Melissa wanted their SS17 campaign to feature powerful women from different walks of life to celebrate all kinds of beauty and to show that you can be a feminist independent of your style. Their audience is quite diverse, ranging from super feminine to gender-neutral and edgy, so the identity had to be flexible enough to speak to all these different groups.

Taking inspiration from protest posters and punk aesthetics, we used Druk as the display font to contrast with an otherwise delicate script wordmark, creating an interesting balance between the two. We also selected a series of colour pairings that could adapt across a range of different styles (from more neutral to crazier unexpected combinations).

“I was also really honored to work on the New York Times Magazine cover about the Women’s March.”

Which of your projects (together or individually) are you most proud of?

Leo: Bonde is definitely one of them. It was super gratifying to start a project from scratch and see it come to life on stage. It is especially rewarding to see all the different connections that are made as the Bonde community grows.

Felipe: Besides Bonde, I was also really honored to work on the New York Times Magazine cover about the Women’s March, especially because it’s a topic that matters to the world. It was amazing to see people engage with the image, which became one of the many symbols of the movement.

Easy one to end on. Favourite typeface?

Leo: Helvetica?

Felipe: Sorry, not an easy one lol. I swear I tried to come up with an answer but I don’t have a favorite typeface.

leoporto.com
feliperocha.work
bonde.nyc

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