Sunday, 11:59pm
13 September 2020

Systems of nightlife

Over the past five years, Vanja Golubovic and Onlab Geneva have crafted several series of powerful posters for the Berlin techno club Tresor.
By Daniel Melfi

Until the lockdown, Vanja Golubovic and her team designed around twenty flyers each month for Berlin’s iconic Tresor Club, writes Daniel Melfi.

Right. Posters for Berlin’s Tresor club, 2017-18 using geometric shapes. 
Top. 
Poster for Tresor, 26 September 2015, featuring techno musician Alexander Kowalski. All designs: Vanja Golubovic / Onlab Geneva.

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Although the Serbian designer began the project on her own, it is now the work of Onlab Geneva – a Swiss branch of the Berlin-based design studio (see Eye 73) – which Golubovic co-founded with her partner Thibaud Tissot (since joined by Matthieu Huegi) in 2016.

The redesign of Tresor’s visual identity began in 2015, ahead of the club’s 25th anniversary a year later. For more than four years, Golubovic had to create a fresh, yet sustainable stream of designs for the club’s three events per week, which she built around evolving templates.

Posters for Tresor, 2015-16, making use of patterns, textures and photographs.

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‘The challenge,’ she says, ‘was to find a flexible yet powerful visual system allowing me to develop dynamic visuals while keeping a strong and coherent identity. This system also needs to be very adaptive and responsive, working on various formats, platforms and outside the club’s official channels.’

The 2019 posters for Tresor are typographic compositions that employ variable fonts.

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The themes of the flyer designs change annually. In the past, guidelines have been found in ‘textures and patterns’ (2015), ‘photographs’ (2016) and ‘geometric shapes’ (2017-18). The infamous Tresor cage – located in the basement where the DJs play records – has been a constant presence, as has Golubovic’s signature method of showing the day of the week by crossing out the other six.

Grid-based poster for Tresor, 2017.

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Recently, Golubovic’s focus has been on typographic compositions. Words such as ‘Tolerance’ and ‘Insight’ inhabit the space of the flyers and also populate walls and spaces across Berlin, in train stations and across the club’s huge front fencing.

Monthly calendar / poster for Tresor, 2018. The grid is less explicit on the printed materials.

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They move beyond the city, too. With an extensive online presence in the clubbing community, Golubovic and Onlab’s work for Tresor is appreciated around the world.

Poster for the ‘House of Waxx’ event at Tresor, 2019.

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The collaboration is rooted in the articulation of two specific perspectives: that of the club and that of the designer. ‘I try to take this into consideration in the development of the visuals, but the core inspiration comes from the Tresor history and ethos, the place, the building and the cage where DJs perform,’ says Golubovic. ‘Above all, it’s interesting to notice that such a techno institution like Tresor was, and is, ready to communicate outside techno’s visual clichés.’

Daniel Melfi is a freelance writer, the publisher of 20 Seconds Magazine and a co-founder at Famous Grapes Recordings.

Typographic poster for Tresor, 2019. The day of the week is indicated by crossing out the other six.

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