In a world where the clock is a designer’s most formidable enemy, Croatian design duo Šesnić&Turković faced a daunting two-week challenge: to reinvent the visual identity of the “7th Seafarers’ Union Conference.” With the clock ticking and the pressure mounting, they set out to defy conventional expectations. The outcome? A transformative image that fused a nautical knot with a clenched fist, capturing the essence of maritime resilience and labor solidarity in a single stroke. For the “Exhibition of Croatian Design,” an iconic event requiring an entirely different yet equally impactful visual strategy, they discarded the abstract in favor of the figurative, weaving animations that spoke directly to the design process. From exigent timelines to monumental expectations, discover how Šesnić&Turković brought their artistry to life in the realm of poster design in 2023.
By: Marko Šesnić & Goran Turković
Šesnić&Turković is one of the leading Croatian designers. In an almost 20-year-long career, they have designed exhibitions, packaging, film posters, titles, and branding. Their designs aim to bring smiles, not reverence.
Every five years, the Seafarers Union of Croatia hosts a congress that brings together key players from Croatian and international maritime organizations. The Congress is the highest body of the Union, and it addresses vital topics for our seafarers: the challenges of local and international sailing, workers’ rights and interests, and the promotion of the social status of workers related to maritime activities. We designed the main visual for this year’s 7th Congress with the Union’s values and challenges at the forefront, communicating their resilience and resolve.
Croatian Seafarer’s Union was a totally new client. They reached out to us in quite a panic. They had been working on the design of a conference that takes place every four years for quite some time, and they were not satisfied with the solutions at all. They asked if it was even possible for us to come up with a solution in two weeks so they could print it and publish it. Normally, we would say that’s quite a challenge, but during that first briefing, we got an idea that excited us and seemed feasible within that timeframe.
A few days later, we sent a rough sketch of the visual idea to our brilliant collaborator, Manuel Šumberac. The next day, he sent the initial rendered solution, and we had the final version within that day. Such a fast and successful process is very rare, and even rarer is when the client falls in love with the solution immediately.
We combined the maritime symbol—a nautical knot, with a clenched fist—a sign of solidarity and revolution. This gave birth to a new symbol that communicates directly with the audience. Through the typography reminiscent of typewriters, we conveyed the bureaucratic context of the Union in which the Congress is happening.
The Exhibition of Croatian Design is the largest design event in Croatia. It occurs every two years and presents and awards the best design projects. We designed this exhibition from the first call for applications, promotional materials, the show itself, awards, and the catalog.
Our concept aimed to showcase how design always emerges in a pinch between various influences (between work and art, between the client and common sense, between deadlines and quality, between working for money and working for pleasure, between banal solutions and pretentious ones). For years, the design for these exhibitions has been abstract; the focus has been on textures and typography. We decided that this year the design must be figurative. Collaborating with Manuel Šumberac, we created a set of animations that communicate the design process and the process of submitting works for the exhibition. Elements from these animations formed the motifs for all the ‘static’ communication of the client, the Croatian Designers Association. The appearance of these elements resembles a blend of a stress ball and a silicone sex toy. This is precisely how we perceive design—as something terribly stressful yet still alluring.
Šesnić&Turković was founded in 2006 and has been working in the field of graphic design and visual communications ever since. They approach every project with the same fundamental mission; find the best creative solution, which will give it its communicative strength and longevity, and set it apart from the competition. They apply that approach in all fields of work: visual identities, signage, exhibition designs, stand designs, designs of publications, advertisements and promo materials, designs for gift shops… They carry out and control various projects from the beginning to the end with the help of our partners: architects, product designers, stage designers, animators, programmers, and print studios. The studio received numerous awards at international and national competitions, and our works were presented at the most relevant exhibitions in the region, as well as many professional publications.