Borderless in graphic design with Nikki Gonnissen

Under the theme “Borders”, AGI Open 2017 shows how graphic design can transcend language and location.
AGI Open 2017 - Credits: José Albergaria
AGI Open 2017 - Credits: José Albergaria

“Graphic design is an art-form that is uniquely equipped to form a dialogue between the messenger, the message and the audience.”

So said Nikki Gonnissen ahead of the AGI Open scheduled to kick off in Paris this week.

AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale) hosts events all over the world to debate the relevance of graphic design. As its president, Gonnissen believes that it’s apt that the theme of this year’s conference is “borders”.

“I want to make sure that democratic values such as freedom and the ability to express oneself are guaranteed, especially in countries where this is less obvious,” she said in a press release.

The AGI Open is known for its discussions around themes such as education, social issues and heritage. Visually, these themes transcend the barriers of language, and as a result, borders.

“Language can create barriers due to the fact that we don't all speak the same language, but a well-chosen symbol speaks to everyone, no matter the differences in culture, age, country or sex,” she said.

A graphic designer herself, Gonnissen co-founded thonik in 1993. The design studio creates work that deals with these same social topics.

In 2015, the studio designed a visual identity for Yoni, a healthcare brand for people who were born with vaginas. Under the slogan, “Chemicals are not for pussies”, the brand identity raised awareness about the line of chemical-free hygiene products.

In 2016, thonik launched a project called Flag Stories which consisted of a workshop with Turkish graphic design students that were asked to design personalised flags for refugees.

Flag Stories

Emerging and more established graphic designers will also be showcased at AGI in a mix of lectures, debates, and statements about the latest in graphic design throughout the world. “It really shows that AGI is the living, breathing proof of a borderless society,” said Gonnissen. 

The conference will run until 22 September.

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