How to Tackle a “Fantastic but Scary” Type Brief For Nike

Name: Shizzle” (Unofficially, that is. The typeface doesn’t technically have a name, but this is what TwoPoints.Net cofounder Martin Lorenz calls it.)
Design Studio: TwoPoints.Net
Release Date: May 2020

Courtesy of Two Points and Nike

Back Story: Nike reached out to Two Points after being sent a posterzine the studio created for with People of Print, which it sent to a number of potential clients. The project was to create typographic designs to be used for a shop at the new Chelsea Football Club Stadium in west London. Nike sent Two Points a number of render images of the stadium and the in-progress shop, as well as information about the values of Chelsea as a club and Nike as a brand. But the brief was pretty simple. 

Essentially, says Lorenz, Nike asked for “something that surprises us,” which both thrilled and terrified the designer. As Two Points saw it, it would be nigh-on impossible to surprise Nike since it “has the best designers working for it.” So internally, the team worked to a slightly modified version of that brief: “We told ourselves to have fun, and come up with something that surprises us.” An ongoing interest in type that uses animation and 3D distortion quickly arrived as the answer to such aims. 

 



Why’s it called Shizzle? The typeface doesn’t have an official name, but Lorenz’s shorthand for it is “Shizzle,” “because it looks like it is made with a chisel, but it’s more street than the actual tool,” says Lorenz. “Actually it would be cool to use chisels for tagging instead of markers or spray paint…” 

What are its distinguishing characteristics? Shizzle is monospaced, modular, and entirely in uppercase—except for the W. The designers created it using Cinema4D animation software, and they experimented with “moving around glass objects to distort the shapes of the typography,” says Lorenz. The typeface is variable through movement that makes each letter shift in numerous ways, changing its height and width, thickness and thinness, color, shading, patterning, flatness or three-dimensional feel, and more. Broadly speaking, it has five different styles: Plain, Vertical Fading, Positive Carved Outline, Negative Carved Outline, and 3D Carved Shading. As Lorenz surmises, “It covers a lot of surface.”

 




What will it be used it for? Even Lorenz is unsure at this stage exactly what Nike hopes to use the typography for, though he’s heard that the stadium building itself is yet to be completed. The striking variable designs and the experimental nature of the letterforms make it very much a display font—something for posters, billboards, and perhaps something like booze packaging—for modern, unapologetic brands or clients. Thanks to its kinetic formation, the type is perfect for moving image projects, maybe as a wild approach to titling or captioning, or for adverts. “It works well as a mask,” Lorenz suggests. “You could place images or movies inside of the letters, for example, and BAM! You have a flexible visual identity.” (At this point, TwoPoints has no plans to make the typeface available to the public.)

Courtesy of Two Points and Nike

What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Thanks to the variable nature of the typeface and its no-nonsense, striking, display properties, it’s wise to look for something a little more restrained, and perhaps more classical to counterbalance these modern, futuristic letterforms. “Any Renaissance Antiqua could make an interesting contrast,”  Lorenz suggests. Something like Cardamon by Brigitte Schuster would do the job nicely.

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