PICNIC Brasil: uniting the creactivists of Brazil to redesign growth

Happykamping out there

Things in Brazil haven’t been easy the past couple of years. When we started discussing the possibility of PICNIC Brasil in 2010 in Rio de Janeiro, things looked promising. And then the crisis kicked in, big time. Now, Brazil’s battered economy is slowly heading towards a recovery again. A perfect breeding ground for radical change and opportunity to redesign growth. It took six years of planning, adapting (often) to the changing situation in Rio and convincing people, companies and government that PICNIC Brasil would be worth their while. And after all these years of perseverance, unwavering faith and hard work, the team in Brazil finally succeeded in making PICNIC Brasil happen: three days of excellent speakers, workshops, discussions, hacker camps, a mini-marketplace, party and lots of rain at the amazing Parque Lage:

Images pulled from different social media sources. All rights belong to their respective owners.

High ambitions, based on the local culture

From the very beginning, the ambition of PICNIC Brasil has been sky high. PICNIC Brasil should intervene in the city and transform local culture. It should create a ‘hub’ for collaborative thinking, be a centre of creative economy, innovation and integration. And a forum for discussion. It should lead to a mindset change, help with implementing new cultural values, be a catalyst for creative ideas and meetings as a hub for collaboration.

Powerful stuff. But then again, PICNIC always has been about that. PICNIC is the event where creativity, innovation, science and technology converge with a purpose: connecting people that are relaxed, open, bold, generous, active and want to be meaningful in their lives and with their businesses. Who want to have fun, take in even the strangest ideas, step outside their comfort zone, share their ideas, experience, skills, want to get their hands dirty and want to have a positive impact.

The workshop of a samba school


The ‘maker culture’ that PICNIC celebrates, is already naturally there in Brasil. Take for example the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. A festival held before Lent every year and considered the biggest carnival in the world with two million people per day on the streets. The first festivals of Rio date back to 1723. The Rio carnival parade is filled with revellers, floats, and adornments from the more than 200 samba schools which are located in Rio. A samba school is composed of a collaboration of local neighbours that want to attend carnival together, with some regional, geographical common background. During the year, they collaborate to make the most beautiful performance possible at the event.

Also in the favela’s a lot of ingenuity can be found. Scarcity leads to resourcefulness and inventive solutions that tackle everyday life problems.

Or take the Brazilian mechanic that came up with a way to light homes, that now light up homes across the world as ‘Liter of Light’. In 2002, Alfredo Moser thought of a way to make a light with a used plastic bottle filled with water and a few drops of bleach. The light works by refracting light from the sun through the plastic and water, and the bleach makes sure algae doesn’t grow inside the bottle. It works like a prism: during daytime the water inside the bottle refracts sunlight, delivering about as much light as a 40–60-watt bulb to the interior. A properly installed solar bottle can last up to 5 years. Since 2002, his idea has been working as a cheap or free way to provide indoor lighting during the day in some of the world’s poorest areas.

PICNIC Festival Brasil celebrated of all this ingenuity and resourcefulness, but on a bigger scale. The scale of the city, the country, the continent, the world. The theme Re-design Growth created the stage for a wide variety of activities where this topic was explored: case studies, inspiration from experts and thought leaders on new models, processes, products and services, direct contact with the disruptors, demos, challenges, competitions, hackathons, devcamps, co-creation workshops, masterclasses, workshops, launches of new products, services and initiatives and a marketplace.

Theme: redesign growth!

PICNIC Festival Brasil explored the theme through multiple tracks, covering topics like:

Urban living — Living environment, public domain, move from rural to city, social cohesion, gentrification, city culture, place making, creative hotspot, sharing, happy ageing, growing up, urban nature, food facility, safety, smart city, work,culture, entertainment, leisure, heritage, identity, youth culture

Learning — Personal development, life long learning, educational system, cloud learning, 21st century workplace, citizen science, robotics, distributed learning, knowmads, craftmanship, apprenticeship, learning by doing (maker), design thinking, wonderment, unlearning, prototyping, lean/agile/scrum, co-creation

Well-being — Mental health, ageing, quantified self, biotech, merging technology, singularity, nanotech, healthcare systems, social support systems, diseases, wetlabs, start-ups, challengers, homelabs, high-end healthcare, 3d printing, mindfulness, inner journeys, happiness myth, nature

Infrastructure — Internet, internet of things, navigation, mobility, watermanagement, food distribution, retail, waste management, housing, public spaces, city planning, green, utilities, transportation, distribution, social, data, government, social design, safety, knowledge,

Economy— Commons, value systems, money, growth as tool, quantification vs. qualification, inequality, sharing, alternative economy, co-, crowdfunding/-sourcing, future of work, business models, social innovation, decentralisation, blockchain technology, abundance, locality, new socio-economic models, open source, free

Design direction

Together with 178, we worked on a look & feel that the team in Brazil could easily translate for different goals and means. At its core is the typography. Any typography can be used for a PICNIC event, as long as it is the VAG Rounded. Has been, will always be PICNIC’s main typography. Brazil is colourful by and through nature. The festival location, the beautiful Parque Lage, is wonderfully natural. PICNIC Brasil is new, different. That’s why its colours needed to break with nature and things need to be arty-ficial. Materials should be their honest true self, creating a stark contrast in the landscape.


As the theme of the event was ‘Redesign growth!’, we wanted to use a language to do a call to action to participate. To invite people to prototype, share, make, create for a better world. Mixing the language of demonstrations, simple typographic posters and familiar Brazilian graphic design into something fresh, positive and new, though recognisable. Because we ’re not against, we’re for. Because together we can cook up better solutions. Not just by talking, but by doing, making. By fixing things, making things better. Acting through creativity. Not as activists, but as creactivists.

Mood. Images pulled from different social media sources. All rights belong to their respective owners.

Design system

This led to a simple system. A simple typographic grid, bold colours, with bold statements relating to the festival’s themes:

We added a diamond shape, to create an open space, a space for new ideas, a space for creativity and the yet unimaginable. Anything can potentially happen in that space.

To be able to add specific information, we added a set of ‘stickers’, that can either add information, clarify something, invite people to engage or supply a possibility for interaction.

This all leads to endless possibilities to make things with, endless combinations, that combined could create different kinds of messaging:

General Direction Daniela Brayner
Creative Direction Brazil André Eppinghaus
Executive Coordination Roberta Savio and Marcos Correa
Direction of Programming Kitty Leering
Overall Creative Direction Marcel Kampman
Design 178 (Frederik Nysingh, Joost Hoekstra, Jimme Bakker), Bruno Bertani and Marcel Kampman. PICNIC identity with Martine Eyzenga.
Special Counseling Washington Fajardo
Programming Management Ivan LP
Management Maker Faire and Labs Sabrina Brayner
Production Director Paulo Cesar Ferreira and Susana Macedo
Production Management Carolina Ferreira
PR and International Press Saul Taylor
Management and Technology Marcelo Fernandes
Coordination Hackers Camp Moyses Silva
Marketplace Coordination Marcelo Carrullo
Institutional Relations Elisa Favre
Legal Adviser Siqueira Castro Advogados