The Garden Festival
Musical renaissance of the Adriatic

In ten short years, The Garden Festival has transformed the Adriatic coast by spearheading the new music festival scene revival. Fiktiv was right there with it from the beginning, crafting a very special brand along the way.

Services

creative direction visual identity graphic design visual communications signange web design and development mobile app design and development

The context

In early 2000-s, Croatia was still recovering from its war years. The Croatian coast of the Adriatic Sea, a best kept secret of the European nature, was yet to relive its peak popularity from before the 1990s. The nature was absolutely pristine and stunning, and so was its rich history, but there was not much else for an active tourist to experience.

The Garden Festival was founded in 2006 by British music producers who came to visit Croatia, fell in love with it and stayed living there. The festival was one of the first that tried to connect this beautiful location with progressive and refined music, and young hip festival-goers worldwide. Each summer, this 7-day event takes place on a unique secluded site near the island of Murter.

Fiktiv has been working on the festival’s branding and visual communications since its very first edition, supporting every facet of its presence.

The concept

The Garden Festival identity is not bound by strict or conventional guidelines. Rather, it is based on a special kind of atmosphere and narrative that has been evolving from the beginning. We've been working closely together with The Garden since 2005 and everyone involved has become friends — in that way the identity has been built organically and intuitively. That genuine insight about what The Garden is and how it feels like is invaluable in creating new brand artwork. We started from an idea of a social board game as a metaphor for what happens on that beautiful peninsula during the festival. The Silly Bird was initially an inside joke, an outsider character. She has been shamed by the DJs that came to the peninsula because she thought they played better music than her. So she put on a paper bag and started messing with their game. Everybody liked her so much and was intrigued by her that by next year a lot of her other feathered friends came along and that story kind of took on a life of its own!

It might be an unusual art direction for an electronic music festival, but the people responded so well to the warmth and spirit of the characters — which is exactly the thing you wish for when building a new brand.

The work

Each year there is a main theme of the Festival (e.g. “Five years” in 2010, “Back to our roots” in 2011, “Going out with a bang” in 2015) upon which we loosely base the narrative for the artwork on, but it’s always evolving from the previous years. The ever-growing flock of birds, the warm and dynamic color palette inspired by the natural setting, the understated, approachable typography combined with slightly rough graphic approach, and above all a specific sense of humor is a strong but flexible base to build upon each year.

What’s also important is that this is an identity made up of a lot of moving parts — we create a huge number of individual designs and illustrations for different communication purposes throughout the season. They are bound together by vibe and story, and only after that by graphic style. That factor keeps the communication alive, direct, and fresh.

Apart from the print materials we design for The Garden Festival, Fiktiv also produces and develops the related websites — that level of involvement, supporting the project in all its aspects and phases, surely helps in keeping the vision authentic.

The current incarnation of the website, launched in 2014, put an emphasis on presenting the fantastic atmosphere of the festival. We created an immersive collage of video clips, moving pictures, photos, music clips, artists, social media posts, quotes and all other service information, grouped by themes. This unusual user interface without a classic hierarchical structure of navigation enabled a much stronger, direct user experience as well as a possibility to tell stories, direct the action, and form new themes in numerous flexible ways, each one feeling alive and fresh.

This is an identity made up of a lot of moving parts — they are bound together by vibe and story, and only after that by graphic style. That factor keeps the communication alive, direct, and fresh.

The results

This fine electronic music festival has become very popular with the young British population and has been named the place to be in the summer and one of the world’s best boutique festivals by several top European media, including, among others, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. It has revived interest in the Adriatic and has become the pioneer of a huge renaissance of the Adriatic festivals scene.

Our work for The Garden Festival helped make it one of the most unique brands in the industry — it has been recognised worldwide, featured in professional publications and, yes, flattered by being copied. But above all things, it is the work that brought the people together.

Impact

created one of the most iconic festival brands
30% tourist arrival growth
and 2.6 M EUR income for local community
unified communication across channels
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