Responses by Karen Nakada and Masato Nakada, co-partners, Happening Studio
Background: OFF THE 405 is the Getty Center’s annual outdoor summer concert series, bringing today’s most exciting bands to the stage for a memorable experience amidst stunning architecture and breathtaking sunset views. This was a unique and rare opportunity for the Getty to connect with diverse and spontaneous communities of Los Angeles. This event invites people who appreciate cultural institutions and live music performances. It was very clear that the posters needed to connect with Angelenos on a visceral note.
Reasoning: The act of driving was the most appropriate metaphor to celebrate this summer concert series. Rush hours, commuting routes and finding shortcuts are the most common small talk topics in LA; spending time on a highway is something all LA communities can relate to on an emotional and practical level. But, is it possible to make traffic beautiful? By using the aerial view of the 405 freeway and the 10 interchange as the base grid, we created a series of typographic posters. The poster layouts and the rhythmic animation of the event info are similar to the bumper-to-bumper driving experience. As a series of posters, each concert needed to work as a one big statement and catch people’s attention—all, while they are driving!
Challenges: The core of the idea was the seamless connectivity. In order for this concept to work, we spent most of the time ensuring every detail aligned perfectly, in terms of rhythm and placement, across all kinds of dimensions. Whether it’s wildpostings on a sidewalk or an Instagram story on a mobile device, the type-only design was refined for each viewing experience.
Favorite details: At the beginning, our concept was so straightforward that visually it could have been too literal and underwhelming. However, we were happy that the series of posters turned out graphically impactful and worked as one single system and as one motion piece. It activates various levels of reading hierarchy while applying distance and speed.
Visual influences: Los Angeles! Happening Studio often gets asked: What makes our work so West Coast/Los Angeles? This project sums it up for us. It reflects our day-to-day life in LA beyond the clichés of sunset gradients, palm trees and weed.
Specific demands: The Getty team gave us a great amount of freedom and trust, since we had a long-term working relationship together. When we started the first round of art direction, the band lineup was not confirmed yet. There was the request of not using any photographic imagery and to only use graphic and typography elements. It made the project more interesting from a visual standpoint.