Thomas Widdershoven and Nikki Gonnissen’s agency, Thonik is a Dutch design company whose studio is based in Amsterdam. Their visual style is clean, bright and bold accompanied with vivid colors to give a strong conceptual impact. With minimal means, Thonik has come up with design solutions for numerous projects in the cultural sector of Netherlands as well as worldwide. Approaching each new endeavor as a chance to experiment, Thomas and Nikki create unique visual languages for their clientele with a wide array of media. They have gained recognition not only through their work but also by winning prestigious awards such as the Rotterdam Design prize in 2007.
What makes Studio Thonik different is its involvement with the cultural sector. One of their well-known projects is the recreation of the visual identity for the city of Amsterdam in collaboration with Eden Design and Communication in 2002. In this undertaking, they got rid of 55 logos and introduced a univocal style in which all people concerned can identify. This was their goal, to come up one recognizable symbol for the different organizations that work for the city. The challenge was to not only convince hundreds of civil servants but to link it to previous graphic history. They derived the cross from the medieval sign of Amsterdam and repeated it to make three vertical red crosses, giving them enough room to manipulate and create graphics for each corresponding district. Now all municipality expressions have a simple and recognizable identity.
Another successful project done by Thonik is the campaign for the Dutch Socialist Party in 2005. It is important to note that the sophisticated atelier was inexperienced in political communication and the cultural elite among whom Thonik has tended to find its clients has traditionally been associated with the polit-ical elite to which the SP is opposed. Despite these situations, the optimistic and vital look of Thonik’s designs exactly matched the SP’s determination to divest itself of its image as an opposition party and present itself to voters as a positive party. Thonik took this intention into consideration and worked towards a graphic language to visualize. Studying the previous graphic, a similar working process whilst doing the identity for Amsterdams districts, they abstracted the old form of the throwing tomato (which represented public protest) into a simple yet stylized graphic: a red tomato silhouette along with a white crown, relating the white ground of paper to the red figure. As for the typeface, Helvetica was chosen so as to be neutral. The combination of the symmetrical emblem and the typography would be used by the campaign and stand at entrance factories, and help laborers gain rights. In turn the SP received 30% more votes.
Subsequently, viral campaigns accompanied, starring the head of the socialist party, Jan Marijnissen. You type in your into name, and get a movie showing Jan trying to send you a message. The video is personalized with your name appearing wherever “Marylou” appears in the sample video. The same balanced red and white visuals are used in the videos.
Also, Jan would distribute soup in bowls which served as three-dimensional versions of the SP symbol. The unit was stored in a trailer with an unusual form and pulled by a delivery van painted from top to bottom with the bright red SP logo.
Thonik created the identity for Rotterdams biggest museum, Boijmans van Beuningen. The rebranding involved a neutral logo, because they wanted to experiment with on scene graphics and the programme. A unique typeface was created on the basis of a grid and curved lines of same thickness. Each letter is an image to form a pattern of swirls. The letters even ‘’soaked’’ into the grid. The graphic stemmed from the previous logo in place.
Involved also in the art scene, Thonik created a system of graphics to depict the identity of the 11th International Architecture Biennale in Venice. All the 3D text on scene as well as the 2D communication linked to a simple form of a ball will three small house like projections. It was abstracted for the print design. This form was the beginning of their visual system and accompanied 22 exhibits in the 300m long space.
Studio Thonik portfolio shows their goal of simple, clear and effective, even from the early days such as Utrecht Centraal Museum’s logo of 5 c’s. The simple identity, and expansion of this to create typography and more forms. The c’s are used repeatedly throughout.
Thonik aim at communicating in a minimal yet effective way by making a system of graphics or an identity. From this beginning point, they expand upon the identity to tie the project together. Their strategies include manipulation of typography, bold and bright colors and abstraction of forms. They process these clear concepts from studying previous graphic history or already existing elements in place. Thonik creates new relationships between people, society and text or graphics.
Biľak, Peter. ‘’Contemporary Dutch Graphic Design: An Insider/Outsider’s View.’’ Typotheque.com, 2001. Available from http://www.typotheque.com/articles/contemporary_dutch_graphic_design. Accessed May 3, 2010.
Etapes, ‘’Studio Thonik’’, Vimeo.com, posted on 3 April 2010, Available from http://vimeo.com/10547680. Accessed 3 May 2010.
Etapes, ‘’Thonik: Galerie Anatome’’, Vimeo.com, posted on 7 April 2010. Available from http://vimeo.com/10748124, Accessed 3 May 2010.
Gonnissen, Nikki, ‘’ Nikki Gonnissen’’, Linkedin.com, Available from http://nl.linkedin.com/in/nikkigonnissen. Accessed May 4 2010.
MIMOA, ‘’Studio Thonik’’, Mimoa.eu. Available from http://www.mimoa.eu/projects/Netherlands/Amsterdam/Studio%20Thonik. Accessed May 3, 2010.
SP, ‘’SP.NL’’, Sp.nl, 1996-2010. Available from http://www.sp.nl/. Accessed May 4, 2010.
SP Viral Website, Available from http://www.houjannietvoorjezelf.nl/. Accessed May 3, 2010.
Thonik, ‘’thonik by you’’, Thonik. Available from http://www.thonik.com/. Accessed May 3, 2010.