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Poster of the Kiel Week 2024, Design: Jianping He

The annual corporate design of the Kieler Woche has been chosen since 1959 in an invitation-only competition that enjoys a high reputation worldwide. Graphic designers consider it a distinction when they are invited to participate – by two independent experts who have won the competition themselves. The international reputation of the design competition is due not only to the numerous motifs that have won national and international prizes, but also to the many renowned designers who have been invited to take part in the competition. Both together make the series of more than 70 Kiel Week designs since 1948 unique worldwide and a reflection of the recent history of graphic design. Since 1974, the challenge has not only been to design a striking poster; the motif must also be effective on various articles and souvenirs – from ties to mugs to key rings.

In the competition for the Design of the Year 2024, six offices competed with 14 submitted designs. The jury chose a proposal by the graphic designer Jianping He from Berlin. The jury’s statement reads: “Beyond the horizon: the winning motif invites visitors to Kiel Week to make a variety of individual interpretations. It creates space for one’s own associations: the depth of the water, the expanse of the sky, feeling freedom, expanding the horizon, but also a moment of peace in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the colourful diversity of Kiel Week.” The design contrasts skilfully with the complex motifs of recent years. In addition, the colour gradient in its multi-faceted blue gradations can be ideally transferred to all applications and media as a central design motif and, in its directness, forms a strong visual bracket that guarantees a high degree of recognisability. “The graphic and typographic levels,” said the jury, “are perfectly and decisively interwoven. They reinforce each other and thus become an expressive unit.” With its reduced visual language, the design concept represents a graphic approach in the design of Kieler Woche that has not been seen for a long time, both formally and in terms of content. The motif is rich in associations, open and self-confident and invites visitors to go on a journey of discovery.

Jianping He, born 1973 in China, is a graphic designer and publisher. He studied graphic design at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou and at the University of the Arts in Berlin; in 2011 he received his doctorate in cultural history from the Free University of Berlin. In 2002, Jianping He founded the design studio and publishing house “hesign” in Berlin. This was followed in 2008 by the founding of the studio of the same name in Hangzhou.

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