Designing a festival of flowers: The Karvi Festival 2016

Branding | Marketing | Spatial Design

Budding Stages of the Karvi Flower

The Karvi festival 2016 was a unique celebration of the gregarious blooming of the Karvi flower that happens once every 8 years. It was an effort towards environmental awareness and conservation by bringing people together through music, art and the outdoors, to spark off a much larger vision. The entire local community in the quiet hill station of Panchgani came together, contributing with their resources and time for the cause and we pledged our design skills as well.

The Karvi Festival is a non-commercial festival. The idea was to create a brand for a community of people who love and respect nature and simply want to celebrate it in a manner that is relatable to them. The brand identity needed to be visually connected to nature and give a sense of celebration and community, so these were used as keywords.

Visual Style
We decided on an illustrated look for the logo and identity to maintain a personalised community feel to the festival. It was designed keeping in mind its usage across various mediums, mainly social media and at the venue.
Keywords: Festive | Floral | Hand-made

Brand Voice
The brand voice is warm, environment-friendly and inclusive. The aim is to create conversation between those who believe in the same values and cause. Environment and nature is always at the heart of every piece of communication by the brand.

“In this world of man made differences, what could be the ideology of a flower? Nothing but to be true to the moment and open the heart to its own calling.”

Logo and Identity
The branding of the Karvi Festival has a strong emphasis on nature and it’s elements. One can see this in the form of illustrated blooming Karvi flowers, buds that are ready to burst into flowering and fresh green leaves, all with the full moon in the background. The circle of life is also seen as a thin band on the moon, signifying ‘community’ and coming together. It’s significance is unmistakably, a celebration of nature and life affirming energies, with the purpose of bringing together a community of like-minded people.

The community concept was applied even in the making of the logo, by collaborating with multiple designers of different skill sets who believed in the cause. The logotype was created by a typographer, with a contemporary and sophisticated look, and was designed in order to be used individually as a simplified logo as well. Handmade floral elements were created by a talented illustrator, and we mixed and matched various combinations and to create the final composition, with a full moon to hold them together.

The logo was also taken forward in three-dimensional form to be used at the venue and hung emphatically over a pond, where it mimicked the reflection of the moon in a water body. Each element was created separately in physical form and combined to create the 3D logo.

An abandoned skylight was used to create the base of the logo, and hand-painted by artists to give it the texture and appearance of the moon, while maintaining its translucence. The logotype was printed as a vinyl sticker and then carefully applied onto the moon. The Karvi flowers, buds and leaves were created as 3D paper forms by a paper artist and pasted on the moon, and it was finally brought to life by a local electrician, who hooked up the the moon light!

Spatial Design
In-keeping with the ethos of the festival, the space selected for the music event at the festival was a natural cave on the edge of Table Land, an iconic plateau in Panchgani. We were to design the space keeping in mind the many constraints that came along with it, including the monsoon weather, lack of electricity and lack of access for any vehicles till the cave, which meant everything had to be physically carried about 700 meters and then down a set of very rough steps, cut into the rock. This limited the number of things we could carry, the weight of the things we could carry and the kind of things we could carry. Also, the lack of electricity meant the requirement for a generator. It was impossible to carry the generator we required till the cave, and the noise would also ruin the music if it was placed at the venue. Anything from above was out of the question so we looked below.

Top left: Table land | Top right: The steps to the cave | Bottom left: The cave entrance | Bottom right: The cave interior

We trekked down the side of the plateau and created a route to the closest hotel, which happened to have a high capacity generator and got permission for its use. A heavy duty cable, almost a kilometre long, was then connected from the generator till the cave, and then there was light! The stage had to be dismantlable so it could be carried easily and assembled on the spot, light plastic chairs had to be hired (for practical reasons), a designated smoking area had to be created, and the cave had to be internally wired for lights and sound. After all this we could finally look into the look and feel of the space.

The obvious theme being nature, and considering the natural beauty of the cave, we wanted the actual space to be seen as much as possible. The look was festive, yet minimal and natural. The stage backdrop merely consisted of lighting the natural rock, and for the front of the stage we suspended three-dimensional clouds, created with cellotape and cotton stuffing from old pillows. Basic white Chinese paper lanterns were suspended in a calculated wave from the ceiling of the cave to form a long strip of light which provided the main source of light. The food stall was decorated with leaves, a menu printed, and signages were created and put up for various things, including the ever-important “No littering”sign.

Istvan Sky performing at the Karvi Festival

We also created a fantastical installation by projection mapping on an existing Shiva statue in the smaller cave inside the cave. We created nooks and spaces within the space itself, for people to explore and enjoy at their own pace and the decor was done to accentuate the cave and the view and retain its natural beauty.

The food menu at the music event

We saw the visual language of the brand expand beyond the screen and paper in this space. It was no longer just about the visual look and expanded into everything to do with the space, including how things were run. No plastic was used anywhere at the festival, clay mugs were used to serve beverages, biodegradable leaf plates were used to serve the food and we even redesigned the items on the menu so as to ensure that there were healthy and fresh items.

There was a festival merchandise stall with hand made products like paper wreaths of Karvi flowers, Karvi-inspired jewellery and sculptures in stone and brass, block-print clothing and burlap bags specially created for the festival, in collaboration with artists and brands.

We collaborated with a fire dancer who performed between and sometimes along with the musical performances, which brought together all the elements- earth, rain, wind and fire, to create a breath-taking atmosphere.

Everything magically fell in place on the final day with the talented musicians and wonderful audience in what can only be described as a surreal experience for all who attended. For all of us who were involved in the conception and organisation of the festival, it went beyond what we could have ever imagined and became much bigger than us, for which we are forever grateful. 
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