DIA’s work for Adidas embodies the “flux and flow of sports” through the brand’s iconic three stripes

The studio’s co-founder Mitch Paone tells us what DIA has been up to for the past year, from its new home in Switzerland.

25 November 2020


We’re, of course, long time fans of the work of DIA. But it’s been a while since we chatted to the team and it goes without saying that a lot has changed since then. The studio has been smashing out project after exciting project, working with everyone from Space10 to Nike, Squarespace and Klim Type Foundry, all from its new home in Switzerland.

It wasn’t long after co-founder Mitch Paone took to the Nicer Tuesdays stage back in April 2019 that the opportunity to relocate to Switzerland presented itself and “we jumped on it,” Mitch tells us. Since then, Mitch and co-founder Meg Donohoe have been living in Geneva, running DIA remotely with Mitch also teaching at HEAD-Geneve (Geneva School of Art and Design), helping to transform “their Visual Communication and Media Design departments by integrating our studio’s processes and techniques into the classroom.” The results of Mitch’s teachings can be found at @head_kinetic where he shares the work of his students. “It’s been a great experience so far dedicating my teaching energy into one school where I can follow the student’s progress over the long term,” he says.

Taking the leap and moving to Switzerland meant that when Covid hit, DIA was fortuitously already set-up for the new way of working the rest of the world had to get to grips with, fast. Still, though, Mitch explains, “staying motivated and inspired is tough under normal circumstances,” and “this year has been unprecedented with the pandemic and news cycle, especially in the US, so we’re trying to be empathetic, patient, and not put too much pressure on things.” The team has tried to embrace a slower pace of life, making time for hobbies and interests and “having different outlets has helped shift our perspectives and is a nice way to reset and approach work from a new angle,” Mitch adds.

Reflecting on the past year when it comes to DIA’s practice specifically, Mitch tells us there’s been a development in the studio’s work in terms of creating more and more custom design tools for projects. This is certainly true of one long-term project for Adidas which saw the studio utilise a “variety of new generative techniques applied to both the typography and textural elements.”

The project first began back in late 2018, when Adidas asked DIA to create a kinetic identity system for its flagship London shop. “The initial brief was to develop a new way for the Adidas brand to come to life in an immersive screen-based environment,” Mitch explains. “Our R&D focused on pushing the core brand assets as far as we could, using conceptual animation behaviours and generative design.”

True to DIA form, the studio undertook in-depth research which influenced the motion of the final identity. The outcome is a huge library of assets which takes cues from the choreography, flux and flow of sport, as well as multiples of three based on the famous Adidas three stripes. The studio then used these to create “abstract graphics referencing athletic fields and forms.” It’s a fascinating approach to bringing a brand to life, embedding the community is serves into its very essence.

A major component of the project was that it was due to be displayed across a plethora of differently mounted screens, and so this was something the studio had to take into account yet it didn’t let it restrict its working processes. “We knew at the start of the project that the screen output was highly variable so during our development we explored the work in a large variety of aspect ratios,” Mitch says. But rather than let the format dictate the output, instead, DIA thought of it more texturally. “We could then zoom in and out and pan left and right to create immersive and seamless experiences,” he adds. To implement in-store, DIA collaborated with Field which created a “bespoke generative system that programmed pre-rendered and real-time design across the screens that constantly created new layouts from the element library.”

On what else has changed for the studio, Mitch explains that its client base has diversified drastically. “In the last three months alone we've juggled directing commercials, developing brand identities, drawing typefaces, creating generative software, and even have an exhibition catalogue in the works,” he says. Something Mitch describers as “refreshing”, it means it’s as exciting a time as ever to be following the studio as it continues to push the boundaries of research, design and motion in combination.

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DIA: Adidas London (Copyright © DIA, 2020)

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.

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