Framing the Debate

Visual identity for the Heinrich Böll Foundation

When debate is your medium and reform your mission, clarity and nuance are everything. Our long-term collaboration with the Heinrich Böll Foundation is defined by the ongoing question of how to balance the plurality of opinion with the consistency of a coherent visual language.

Members of State have been working with the Foundation for over a decade. In 2015 we oversaw a revision of the design guidelines we had established seven years previously, with a particular focus on the client’s large publishing output.

The growing number of publications had lead to a cluttered range of formats and increasingly uniform layouts. We re-evaluated all of the foundation’s print products in terms of their voice and longevity, and introduced a clearer system of physical formats. Into this framework we also integrated newer publications such as the digitally distributed böll.brief.

Published three times a year, the free magazine Böll.Thema is an important mouthpiece for the foundation’s work and culture. Through our close involvement with the editorial board, and believing that the content was deserving of a wider readership, we helped to position the publication closer to commercially available current-affairs magazines. We have commissioned some of Europe’s best young illustrators and photographers to contributed to the magazine’s mix of debate and reportage.

Working in cooperation with the Swiss architectural office E2A, we planned, designed and oversaw the production of the headquarter’s physical and digital signage. In response to the flexible distribution of personnel, we created a system of custom-manufactured metal signs, which could be personalised by the employees’ own hand-writing.

To paraphrase Heinrich Böll, “meddling is required”. The foundation’s unofficial mission statement extends to our work on exhibition architecture, scenography and event branding.

For a traveling exhibition celebrating Heinrich Böll’s 100th birthday, we combined rebar with concrete and tarpaulin in a nod to the protest-culture which marked his life.

For the project SurVivArt, which was exhibited in Berlin’s HKW and various galleries, we presented the work of international artists as a bricolage of up-cycled materials.

In a nutshell:

A working relationship as long as this is rare, but offers both client and agency the benefits of stability, and the opportunity to evolve together. State helped to shape the foundation’s identity as a green think-tank with global reach.

What we did:

Workshops and consultancy, visual identity and design guidelines, campaign design, print design, magazine design, book design, way-finding design, exhibition architecture and design, production


Heinrich Böll Foundation

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