A “curious teenager”, Federico Paviani found his way to graphic design through formative experiences with graffiti, tattoo art, and watching the craftsmanship of his mother as she tailored clothing. Born in Varese, in northern Italy, where he is currently based, it was here that he had his “first real introduction to learning how to speak with images”. Surrounded by creativity, he drew inspiration from various artistic pursuits, but eventually settled on graphic design as his own. These early years instilled in him a drive for exploration and discovery that still forms a crucial part of his practice today.
“I’m still a curious person, with interests in many areas of art and design,” says Federico. “I find myself working on multiple projects and ideas at the same time and this has really become a part of my process – switching from one project to another helps me refine and reflect on my design decisions.” The projects themselves are as wide-ranging as his interests and include visual identities, typefaces and custom lettering. It’s not the medium, however, that matters most to Federico – it’s the concept: “I’m mainly interested in the idea or story behind the project, rather than the final medium it turns into. My goal is always to be able to clearly translate ideas into concrete solutions.”
His recent projects include an identity for Zurich-based streetwear brand Sports Club, that Federico carried out whilst living in the city a few years ago. At the time, he was working for Vetements, which meant that the collaboration “started quite naturally” – with both of them being luxury fashion brands. Sports Club needed a new logo and came to Federico for ideas; he in turn drew inspiration from a baroque typeface drawn in 1761 to create a wordmark with both a “clear, classic” feeling and a bold look. “The logo launched in 2020 and now you can find it across lots of different pieces in their collection, in loads of colours, and applied using many different techniques” he says.
More recently however, Federico collaborated with the creative agency Miilkiina on two projects that he says were similar in approach. The first was an identity for New York-based plant design studio Original Rose. The studio’s founder Olivia was keen to take inspiration from the city around her for her brand’s aesthetic, and so Federico navigated his way around the streets (from his home in Varese, using Google Maps), finding references on local shop signage. These virtual explorations heavily informed the final result, which Federico says “is bold and playful and drawn roughly – almost like a painted billboard”.
The second is another identity, this time for award-winning New York-based video director Andy Madeleine. This project shared a similar pathway to Federico’s work for Original Rose, with him creating a look and feel characterised by “roughness and boldness”. Andy wanted his signature and his written gestures to be the foundation of the identity, giving his brand a personal touch. He sent writing samples to Federico and the team at Miilkiina, who played “triangle ping-pong” with the material as they collated and translated it. As with Federico’s other work, here we see a strong grasp and understanding of wordmarks and typography, which he attributes to his time spent studying type design at ECAL for his master’s degree.
“[The course] gave me the opportunity to go very deep into the very specific field of Typography, and to metabolise knowledge and skills whilst also being able to step back and see the bigger picture,” he explains. “It was like studying a painting with a magnifying glass, understanding all the technical structure behind that and then going far away to see it as a whole, in its context. This has no doubt influenced my practice today.”
It’s no surprise then that, among other forthcoming projects – such as designing the visual identity for outdoor clothing brand Icebreaker and becoming an external teacher and tutor at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland – Federico is due to release his first commercial typeface through digital type foundry Fatype. Speaking on this exciting moment, he says “The project has been on my desk for a while and has been a constant evolution. It’s a serif typeface that was initially part of a revival and is now going to exist by itself.”
Federico Paviani: PCYCL poster (Copyright © Federico Paviani, 2020)
About the Author
Daniel joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in February 2019 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. He graduated from Kingston University with a degree in Journalism in 2015. He is also co-founder and editor of SWIM, an annual art and photography publication.