Making of an European
Capital of Culture
Transforming a city with history to a cultural capital with future is no easy task. The first step is building a brand. Studio PUNKT took care of the entire visual identity for Plovdiv - European Capital of Culture.
The “European Capital of Culture” initiative is among the most important European projects. It holds values celebrating the cultural richness and diversity of the world’s oldest continent.
Plovdiv was the first Bulgarian city awarded with such an honor. As such, it had to execute a project of high cultural significance and, at the same time, successfully pave the way for future Slavic and Bulgarian honorees.
Photo credits: Rosina Pencheva
We were part of the team responsible for transforming Plovdiv from a city with a rich history to a capital of culture with a future. We created a bold and contemporary visual identity reflecting Plovdiv’s vibrancy and diverse history, programming, and culture. At the root of it all – we created a symbol. A clear and practical one to be recognized by organizers, residents, and friends of the city. We were inspired by Plovdiv – its hills, millennial arches, the ancient theatre and stadium, the river, the old houses, the temples, cobblestone streets, clay roof tiles, Bulgarian Cyrillic and the letter P („П“), and of course, our rich multi-layered history. All of this together in one symbol.
The graphic symbol was the basis on which we built the entire visual identity. One that uniquely defines its values – it strives to be welcoming and inclusive with modern elements influenced by the essence of the town’s history and its people’s stories. One that we are hoping to turn into a permanent part of Plovdiv’s DNA by becoming part of its brand. Our current efforts are directed toward making this shared dream come true.
Our collaboration with the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation started slightly more than a year before 2019. We were invited to participate in a competition to select who would create the project’s entire visual identity. Being the only local studio, we had another Ace on our sleeves – our strong connection to the city we love and live in. That inspired and helped us present our ideas in the most authentic way. By then, the project already had a symbol – colorful and recognizable but without graphical significance, layers, and depth. We drew upon our vast experience to create a new one that better represents and suits the character and goals of the project.
In less than two months, the new logo uniting a diversity of characters and stories was created. One thing we kept from the previous symbol is the word “together,” which later even became the project’s motto. As the individual interpretation of “together” can be very personal, we decided to permit its use in occasionally replacing the logo, thus making the communication more intimate and unique.
We also drew inspiration from the opening event’s slogan – WE ARE ALL COLOURS. Our monochromatic logo was created with the idea to be transformed with a full spectrum color palette that portrays its energy and vibrancy, expressing the immense range and diversity of the project.
The next step was selecting a font family to meet the needs of the cultural program filled with hundreds of projects and events. The modern Uni Neue by the Bulgarian type foundry Fontfabric responded in a great way to the needs of the project, namely allowing both Latin and Cyrillic use and corresponding harmoniously with the symbol.
Our initial collaboration with the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation later transformed into a close partnership. It all started with creating a symbol – one that expressed Plovdiv’s heartbeat and unique character. It grew into taking care of the entire visual narrative of the project as well as participating in its rich cultural program.