2024 Backstage

Now in its eighth consecutive year, the BCBF Visual Identity Workshop gives a young artist chosen from among those selected for the Illustrators Exhibition an opportunity to develop the visual universe for the next Bologna Children’s Book Fair in co-production with Chialab Design, the design practice entrusted with the trade show’s visual identity.

This is the story of how the Chialab working group guided Inês Oliveria towards the creation of what was to be the Bologna Children’s Book Fair visual identity for 2024. 

May: from Red to Grayish-Blue

After the dazzlingly colourful 2023 edition, we now want to enchant with a world of soothing calm. In deliberate contrast to the red, orange, yellow and magenta of 2023, the 2024 edition will be all about blue – dark, sky and grayish-blue - teal, turquoise and emerald green.

With this theme in mind, the BCBF Visual Identity Workshop embarked on its now traditional search for illustrator candidates from the 2023 Illustrators Annual. Scrolling through the pages, we shortlisted Aleksandra Runde, Diandian Hu, Inês Viegas Oliveira, and Juliana Litkei.


We examined the candidates’ work against the mood for the 2024 BCBF agreed on with the BolognaFiere team: a visual identity made up of undefined shapes, blurred contours, translucent colours, and unusual perspectives. The idea was to take a new look at the underwater world, leaving both our masks and our preconceptions behind on the land, and exploring the seabed with new eyes.

June: decision time

We choose Inês Viegas Oliveira for her captivating, enigmatic style that creates connections between her white - but never completely empty – spaces.

That started an intense back-and-forth of ideas and suggestions: the Wunderkammer, Mark Rothko, William Turner, Erich Heckel, Gerhard Richter, etc. After which, we gave Inês breathing space to reflect, experiment, and send in proposals.

July: from the shelf array to the horizon

Ines's first sketches centred around the idea of a collection, an exhibition, an orderly array on shelves. We loved the idea of the Wunderkammer to encapsulate the new BCBF and so, tried building shelves, filling them with the various items designed by her. But as often happens, when translated, ideas on paper often look very different from how we had imagined. The closed shelf structure and Inês' vibrant images did not work. The BCBF setting needed more space, greater breadth.

So, we did away with the confined space of the constructed shelf and let our gaze take in distant horizons. Two of Ines's many sketches went precisely in that direction: a mermaid wearing a sweater and a diver plunging into a book. This, we realised, was the perfect idea: an image that instead of closing, transforms; a horizon that does not exclude but connects; hazy borders that open up our perception: in a word, BCBF.

September: the sketches arrive (and become the definitive drawings!)

We gave Inês the whole of August to get on with her work. At the beginning of September, the fish-comb and sweater-wearing mermaid were joined by the sperm whale-volcano, the hot-air balloon-shell, the lighthouse-squid, and the mushroom-jellyfish.

We set them all out in a string, looking for connections along the line. The result was a transformed landscape. We usually look at the world searching for finite, recognisable, familiar forms. But perhaps we should just let ourselves go, let ourselves be lulled by the waves, supported by the Archimedean thrust and allow ourselves to discover colours and shapes that simply are what they are.

October: immerse yourself in children's content

The 2024 BCBF Visual Identity is an invitation to immerse yourself and simply go with the flow of Bologna Children's Book Fair. Inês's drawings will accompany the visitor on a journey through this landscape of infinite horizons populated by six recurring subjects with names that speak of Carl Nilsson Linnaeus: Amanita Chrysaora, the boat-devouring Architeuthis, Santiago Montgolfier, Plastic Harengus, Sirenia Diplopia, and Spermaceti Pyrotechnics.


Enjoy the show!


September 2024


The BCBF visual identity workshop experience and the original preparatory and final drawings by Inês Viegas Oliveira will be on display at the Visual Identity Exhibition during the 2024 BCBF