San Francisco Design Week

Changing the way the story unfolds.


Visual Identity


Voice + Messaging




The Ask


Create a theme and campaign for San Francisco Design Week 2023 that intrigues and provokes participants and attendees to explore, converse, and take action together through projects, events, exhibits, and beyond.


A highly diverse group of designers, design-curious and design-adjacent people from multiple disciplines, attending from the Bay Area and all over the world.


Widespread challenges and setbacks happening in the Bay Area provided a chance to be relevant, relatable and empower the design community to reframe change as an opportunity.

The Answer


To shape the future, we need to embrace change — a key concept in the history of the Bay Area. San Francisco is a city built on twists and turns. Whether intentional or unexpected, change is always a chance to find a better way. At San Francisco Design Week (SFDW), we’re compelled to explore the turning points in design, business, and life that invite us to make choices, get creative, and change the way the story unfolds. For 2023, our theme, ‘Plot Twist’ gives us the opportunity to gather and discuss inspiring stories through the lens of design - complete with unexpected turns, chance encounters, bold characters, and thrilling outcomes.


We built a design system based on twisting storylines, with a simple yet clever twisting lockup, backed by a bright and bold color palette that brought attention, energy, and optimism to our theme. We chose Etude for our font – a stencil serif that combines elegance with a city street sensibility, while also having the appearance of twisting. To create an experiential component to the design, we made a tool called the Plot Twister, where participants could see their own story interwoven and folded into the twist. They were able to upload photos, play and change their twist, and share their final composition with their own audiences to build further engagement and community.


Plot twists carried through our campaign language, highlighting all types of changes to embrace. From wild cards and curve balls to chance encounters and happy accidents, we kept the intrigue and storytelling top of mind.

The Plot Twister

In collaborating with Kiel Mutschelknaus, we created the Plot Twister, an interactive tool that allowed Community Partners to create their own assets to promote their events. We also used it to generate screensavers that were used across the events.

Type with a Twist

When looking for the perfect display typeface, we were immediately taken by Etude from Order OTF. The elegance of the serif combined with an urban tone of a stencil provided the perfect energy and unexpectedness, while the shapes and cuts perfectly compliment the twists and turns of the visual identity.


"Embracing and acknowledging change, Pact Studio crafted a visual identity and theme that captured the spirit of who we are as a community and encapsulated the strength and resilience of the Bay Area. We were thrilled with the outcome and enjoyed the collaborative experience working with their team."

Dawn Zidonis, CEO


Natalia Kowaleczko / Tony Mingo / Sofia Llaguno / Michelle Weed / Michelle Busy / Amelie Au / Kiel Mutschelknaus