An Open Understanding’s identity for Picfair is led by subtle references to its photographic context
London-based design studio An Open Understanding have redefined the identity of online open photography platform Picfair, channelling its community-focused founding and expertise through a slick combination of sophisticated typography and image framing. “The first thing I did when we started work on the identity was to look at cameras,” Founder & Creative Director James Kirkup tells us, discussing the story behind the visual language, taking into account the variety of cameras and processes there are. “From film to DSLRs to Leica’s to Nikon, all the way through to our phone cameras,” Kirkup explains, “I was searching for the details that we resonate with photography,” finding a common thread that linked them all: the viewfinder.
Embracing the level playing field that is the viewfinder – something experienced no matter the photographer’s expertise or the camera’s technology – An Open Understanding opted for a viewfinder bordering as a framing device throughout the identity. This motif provides the brand not only an ownable aesthetic device but also a graphic feature to champion the work Picfair hosts, putting the platform’s community front and centre.
Similarly, turning towards the practical context of photography for inspiration, Picfair’s colour palette subtly references the technology and variety of cameras. “The brand was already using a great palette that only needed detailed tweaks and extending,” Kirkup recalls, “but there’s nod’s to the yellow UI detail of a DSLR,” he adds, “and the burnt hues from a film roll that we added,” confident in its reference to the reality of Picfair’s audience, without becoming pastiche overtly in the process.
However, leading the visual language is the typography, which Kirkup explains was the first port of call for the brand. “From the UI on a digital camera to the engraved detail on a body to the film notes on a developed roll,” he remarks, “I wanted to capture all of that nuance in a subtle way that only those that knew, would know.” These references come in the form of the brand’s bespoke sans serif as the primary typeface, constructed of soft letterforms alluding to the typographic shapes found on developed film. “The type leans on the theme of photography,” Kirkup concludes, “without hopefully appearing too OTT.”