Bologna Children’s Book Fair

The visual identity of the world’s largest children’s book fair.

Customer Bologna Fiere
Year 2009–17
Job Identity, Strategy, Exhibit

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The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is an important annual event which welcomes thousands of exhibitors and visitors from all over the world. It is a fair for professionals who work in children’s publishing. Every year since 2009 (with the exception of 2016) we’ve been responsible for the fair’s visual identity.  This identity pervades the entire fair, welcoming and guiding visitors through its stands and numerous events.

Each year, our aim is to create a holistic and compelling visitor experience, a unique and memorable encounter with the Bologna Children’s Book Fair brand.

The Fair’s organisers comment: “In response to recent developments in the publishing industry, the BCBF has been expanding its horizons over the last few years, to include digital publishing, apps, animation and licensing. The fair brings together thousands of people from diverse backgrounds who have a common interest: content for children. The fair is no longer merely a place where copyrights are exchanged. It has become a cradle of innovation and an laboratory for ideas, offering numerous creative workshops and activities.”

Visitors to the fair are attentive and discerning consumers of visual media. Our main challenge has been to give visibility to all the elements comprising the event.

Each year, Chialab creates a different visual theme. This theme inspires, and features on, all the communication material, from the fair’s website to its map, from its signage to its stands. This theme provides the distinctive visual identity of the annual event. It welcomes visitors and guides them around, and outside, the fair. In this way, the identity of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair brand is strengthened and renewed each year.

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2017. The Natural Habitat

For the first time, the visual identity emblem of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair is an illustration or, rather, an ecosystem of illustrations called The Natural Habitat for children’s content. It consists of six animal drawings: the mythological chimera symbolises the event in its entirety, while each of the other five creatures represents a themed area inside the fair. The Natural Habitat offers editors, illustrators, agents, journalists and other publishing professionals a memorable figurative symbol of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2017.On the BCBF website a visitor commented on the image: "You sense the singularity of an image and the plurality of the visual world".

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2014 – 2015. We love difference

For the years 2014-2015 the visual identity of the event was informed by the idea of difference as a value. This was expressed in the event’s tagline ‘We love difference’. A little boy and girl immersed in reading were the protagonists of the communication material. Past icons of the BCBF brand were also brought back to life. A hundred drawings of real and imaginary faces, related to the world of children’s literature, appeared in a colourful, abundant and multiform cascade across all communication devices.

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2013. The Bologna Children’s Book Fair celebrates its 50th birthday

In 2013, the event celebrated its 50th anniversary and the number "50" became the visual motif across all communication material. We created 50 designs of the number 50, using different typefaces to make each number 50 unique. Arranged in ordered or random patterns, reproduced individually or superimposed, these 50s complemented and energized the fair’s lavish programme of events.

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BCBF 2013 photogallery

2009 – 2012. The Shape of The Letters

During the first four years of our collaboration with Bologna Fiere, our challenge was to create a specific visual identity for the institutional brand BCBF. We wanted it to be consistent over time, and distinct from the visual identity of the themed annual fairs. We developed the brand identity by outlining clear guidelines in the Manual on visual identity , which we prepared for BCBF. We also established a visual identity for the communication material that would be used at the next four editions of the event.

The guidelines called for the design of a specific font and the use of a unique colour palette for each edition of the fair. We excluded all graphic material (such as photos and illustrations) from the fair, in order to focus attention exclusively on the typographical design.

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BCBF 2009-2012 photogallery

Fringe events and features

Weekend dei Giovani Lettori (Young Readers’ Weekend), International Bookstore, Bologna Licensing Trade Fair and much more. Exhibitions, lectures, workshops, conferences and other activities linked to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Our remit included creating the visual identity and visual communication material for all these events.

The WE Weekend dei giovani lettori is the public preview of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. We decided to use “WE” instead of “I” to encourage people to see reading as a shared experience, and the book as a promoter of friendship and conviviality.

In working on the design of the International Bookstore, our challenge was to guide thousands of people during typically brief visits to a vast space which contained thousands of books. Our solution was to put in place enormous signs that were legible from a distance, which allowed visitors to easily find their way.

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BCBF18_making_of2.jpg
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The protagonist of the 2017 event was the chimera, which unites, in a single figure, the five themes of the event. Illustration by Daniele Castellano.
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The fair is divided into five sections: the Illustrators’ Exhibition, the Translator Centre, Bologna Digital Media, Masterclasses, and Award. Each section is represented by a fantastic creature, which symbolises the imaginary worlds that can be explored at the event. Illustration by Daniele Castellano.
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The four fonts used at editions of the fair from 2009 to 2012: 2009 Writing from around the world; 2010 Writing as architecture; 2011 Writing in time; 2012 Writing as drawing.
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