Studio Dumbar's, Daan Rietbergen, On Their Dynamic Visual Identity For Jeugdfonds Sport & Cultuur 

Written by

Dawn Broadbent


The legendary Rotterdam-based Studio Dumbar is known for creating iconic identities since its establishment in 1977. From experimental graphics for cultural clients to corporate identity programmes and literature, they boast an incredibly diverse and highly influential portfolio. They've worked on visual identities for Dutch railway systems, the Dutch government, Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery, and the budget airline, Transavia. Most recently, Studio Dumbar were tasked with creating a new visual identity for Jeugdfonds - a cultural institution that helps provide underprivileged children with sporting clubs and cultural activities. We spoke with one of the lead designers on the project, Daan Rietbergen, to gain an insight into the design process of this immense project. 

So Daan, how did your collaboration with Jeugdfonds Sport & Cultuur come about, and how did your relationship with the organisation/s develop throughout the project?

At Studio Dumbar, when it comes to designing a new visual identity, we usually start with a workshop with the client. This is so that we can get to know the client, a feel for their culture, and to find out where they want to go with their brand in the coming years. Following this, the first presentation we do we call the 'kitchen review’. It’s a presentation with roughly seventy five per cent of all the sketches we've made so far. It’s the perfect way to get input from the client and to see if there are some alternative directions that might be interesting. We think it’s good to get the client involved in our design process from the very start. 

"The design is energetic, strong, and positive. It fits the attitude of the Jeugdfonds - stimulating the potential of children, rather than focusing on their problems."

From the bold, energetic aesthetic of your artwork it seems like you really wanted to challenge and push the boundaries as to what the visual identity for children’s sports and cultural institutions could look like. Was this a conscious aim from the offset, or something that just happened organically through the creative process?

I think at Studio Dumbar we never go for the safe option and always want to push the boundaries within a visual identity. In the case of Jeugdfonds, this meant what the visual identity for a children’s sport an cultural institution could look like. But I don't believe this is the most important thing. What's most important is finding a visual style that matches the strategy and the ambitions of that organisation for the coming years. 

Were there any particular artists/designers who influenced your creative artwork?

In the beginning of the process we did quite a bit of research on what some design studios have produced for sports labels and cultural events in the last few years. It’s always good to know what has already been done. Next to that, it’s hard to ignore the typographic work of Barbara Kruger, so I’m most likely inspired by her work as well.

Tell us a bit more about the animation aspect of the artwork? What prompted this eye-catching graphic effect?

Although there are different target groups, the design is focused on the frame of reference of youngsters. They're at the centre point of the organisations and, therefore, the identity. The way of communicating is clear and straight to the point. The design is energetic, strong, and positive. It fits the attitude of the Jeugdfonds - stimulating the potential of children, rather than focusing on their problems. The direct and dynamic nature of the identity underscores the fact that Jeugdfonds communicates to children at their level, speaking to them directly, from a position of respect rather than care. Youth Sport Foundation and Youth Culture Foundation have merged into one. Locally however, in the municipalities, the situation is different everywhere. In many places, the organisations still operate independently. The new organisation wanted to develop a new brand that creates more unity, yet respects the existing names and organisations. Therefore we created a visual identity with an animated logo and graphic language. When the Youth Sport Foundation is communicating, the word 'sport' will become bigger and the same goes for Youth Culture Foundation. 

What did you enjoy most about working on this project?

I’m a huge sports fan myself, so for me this project was great to work on from the start. Next to that, these organisations are doing something really good for children who have a little less than others, so it’s nice to work for a foundation like this. And a good visual identity is always a collaboration between designer and client. Not every client is open to such a huge visual change like Jeugdfonds were.

"What's most important is finding a visual style that matches

the strategy and the ambitions of that organisation for the coming years."

How long did the entire process take from start to finish? What does the timeline for a large project like this usually look like?

Our projects are always broken down in three key phases. These are Strategy, Design, and Implementation. The duration for this particular project was approximately six months. However, when I say six months that doesn't mean we worked continuously, full-time for that entire duration but that's a good approximate. The time line varies from project to project. Some are very short whilst others can last for over a year, depending on the scale and complexity of the project. At Studio Dumbar we always have at least two designers working on a visual identity project, each working on their own concept until the first concept presentation. After this concept presentation one concept is chosen and will be finalised by just one designer.

Has this project made you keen to work with more sports organisations, clubs, or events in the future? If so, who would be an exciting client for you?

Yes, if it’s a sports project, count me in. Especially if it’s football! In fact, almost all of us at the Studio are keen football fans. In the summer we always go out and have a game during lunch break. In the future I would love to design a visual identity or clothing for a football club.

Check out more of Studio Dumbar's work here.

Written by

Dawn Broadbent