53rd Venice Biennale
    A world made from familiar fragments helps break records at the Biennale


    The Venice Biennale is like the world championship of contemporary art. Every two years, dozens of countries display the work of one artist each at permanent national pavilions in the Giardini and at temporary exhibition spaces. Awards are made (Leoni d’Oro) to outstanding artists.


    The director of the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009 was Daniel Birnbaum, also director of Stockholm’s Moderna Museet. Daniel contacted SDL and asked us to develop a distinctive and original visual identity for the Biennale – one that could reflect and interpret the theme he’d chosen of “Making Worlds”.


    The challenge was to create an identity that had intelligence and impact but didn’t overpower the art. We explored many ideas but kept returning to the simplest (and best). We love flags at SDL. And deconstructing the flags of all the nations at the Biennale into their different elements supplied us with a stockpile of abstract but still (just) recognisable forms that we assembled in surprising combinations on catalogue covers, posters, signs and notebooks suggesting new unities and associations.


    The world we made from flag fragments for “Making Worlds” was inclusive, engaging and powerful without being too smart or visually intense for its own good. We seemed to get the balance just right for what was the world’s most visually literate and critical audience. Around the city, curiosity was quietly aroused. Perhaps because of this, the 53rd Venice Biennale drew a record number of visitors – almost 376,000 between 7 June and 22 November.

    The 53rd Venice Biennale in numbers


    increase in visitors


    average daily visitors


    accredited journalists present


    international TV channels covered the event