At this year’s Olympic Games in Rio, several competing countries’ basketball teams – the USA (Dream Team), Spain and Brazil – will be wearing uniforms featuring typography designed by SouthSouthWest’s studio in Fitzroy.
The studio, headed by creative director Andy Sargent, has been working with Nike for the past six years on various projects - from global brand projects to illustrations as well as many custom type design projects.
Sargent tells desktop that the original briefs included an idea of the territory they needed to work within for each country, and in some cases, early design materials for them to build on.
“A lot of the direction for each nation was delivered verbally. These directions were subtle typographically, but overt to anyone who understands the game of basketball and the nuance in playing styles from one nation to another, or from each continent to another.
“For example, USA is the dominant force of world basketball, the strong chiseled typeface is informed by the solid collegiate system and the tough roots of the game in the urban context. This has been softened with subtle internal radiuses and distinctive internal angles,” said Sargent.
The Brazilian uniform design, Sargent explains, is more rounded; inspired by the climate, creativity and optimism of the host nation. The Spanish team’s uniforms have a European flow and flare, characterised by its flowing corner radiuses, additional accented characters and mixed cross bar alignments.
“As with all Olympic design, It’s almost impossible to not carry forward inspiration from the rich heritage of Olympic design from past games; from Lance Wyman with Mexico 68 and Otil Archer at Munich 72, through to LA84 by Sussman/Prejza and beyond.
“It’s satisfying and exhilarating to see the work come to life two years after creation and to look as strong and relevant as it was when we completed the work. We’re thrilled to have contributed in a small way to the wonderful lineage of graphic design for the Olympic games,” adds Sargent.