Whitman Emorson honour the cultural impact and essence of Ballroom in their identity for FUNCTION
Historically synonymous with New York, Ballroom is a culture, community, and queer Black art form that emerged in the city in the 1960s. Ball culture (and Houses) have served as a haven of expression and self-love for the 2SLGBTQIA+ and BIPOC citizens, and have expanded outside the US to include chapters in cities like Paris, London, and Tokyo.
Located in Toronto, FUNCTION is doing their part to uplift BIPOC, queer, and marginalised voices in Canada. In doing so, they are highlighting Canadian Ballroom talent and pushing the boundaries of the country’s Ballroom scene. Working with the platform and event organiser to create an identity for them, Toronto-based design studio Whitman Emorson strived to understand not only the essence of FUNCTION, but that of Ballroom itself.
The resulting visual system gives the FUNCTION team the tools and assets to bring their platform to life in a truly authentic way across all collaterals. From events to marketing, and from the stage to the street – balancing angular geometric forms with fluid curves and Kirk Lisaj’s captivating photography, the result is powerful, impactful and mesmerising in equal measure.
During a Ball, you must score 10’s across the board, otherwise you’re ‘chopped.’ Noticing a ‘10’ within FUNCTION’s name, Whitman Emorson chose to highlight it within the wordmark, using the typeface Rabbit Hole, designed by HUGMUN’s BOAFFF. As Senior Designer Gregory Hergott and Senior Brand Strategist Helaena Pezzano explain, “this customisation is intended to underscore Ballroom’s inherent connection to movement, while visually amplifying FUNCTION’s dynamic energy and pursuit of excellence within the community and in personal endeavours.”
The design studio also took visual cues from Ballroom movements (such as Voguing) and created flowing and curvaceous mirrored graphics which feature throughout the identity. Meanwhile, they introduced a striking, rectilinear contrast with an uppercase wordmark set in WELTKERN’s Everett, designed by Nolan Paparelli. “We opted for Everett as the primary typeface for its symmetrical structure and organic quality which complements the mirrored graphics we created,” Hergott and Pezzano reveal. “In addition to the font’s readability, its distinctive details add personality and a touch of tension, enhancing visual interest.” As a whole, the wordmark embodies confidence and power, emblematic of the brand’s essence.
“Similar to Ballroom, the FUNCTION brand draws inspiration from various forms of creativity and expression,” they continue. “The colour palette celebrates and pays tribute to the rich history of Ballroom, BIPOC and Queer cultures, and was heavily influenced by Black artists like Mickalene Thomas.” This, they emphasise, ensures that voices from the community are embraced, heard and authentically represented – an integral pillar to the creation of this brand.