Nik Bentel Studio is a team of designers based in New York that releases limited-edition performance art objects, most famously, its Mac folder wallet. Originally run by Nik Bentel alone, the studio is now a team of four (Andy, Mara, Gene and Nik) and a new identity was required to shift focus away from Nik and uplift the studio as a whole and its variety of projects. This fresh identity needed to tap into everything that makes the studio what it is – playfulness, levity and humour, or as Nik puts its “curated chaos” – and who better for the job than the design partnership Little Troop.
Due to the breadth of the studio’s work, Little Troops co-creative director, Noemie Le Coz, says that balancing “consistency and flexibility” was key. The identity has two categories of logo – its mascots and its wordmarks. Nik requested that illustration play a “very large role” in the marks and he listed a number of references as jumping-off points, like Tom and Jerry.
Little Troop landed on a simple mascot with interchangeable elements. The only consistent element is the its cartoon eyes. Throughout the identity the mascot shifts from flat to squishy (a homage to infamous claymation characters of years past) and transforms into a number of alter-egos including a Clippy-inspired web-pop up and a grimacing “evil Nik” – Noemie and Jeremy’s personal favourite.
The workmarks are interchangeable to allow for the studio’s full name and its shorthand to be featured. They also exist in the same visual world as the mascot, having all the same curves and buoyancy. The wordmark, typography and colour were all inspired by Italian vintage ephemera – a nod to Nik’s heritage and a way of keeping things “clean and clear” throughout the chaos, says Noemie. The hero typeface Optima Pro was selected for its “back-to-basics” yet “refined” feel, while Rom, the supporting typeface, was chosen for its references to conceptual art catalogues from the 1960s and 70s.
With such an array of components, it could have been easy for the identity to end up as a system that didn’t mesh, but when it came to creating the website Noemie says that the goal of curated chaos finally came together. The website is filled with easter eggs, all the while managing to elevate the studio’s products. “Like a lot of Nik’s projects, it’s a real mash up!” says Noemie. “Ultimately, we hope we’ve made an identity that feels like it synthesises what Nik’s projects naturally feel like — fun, bold, nostalgic-but-new, rudimentary, unexpected and a bit random, in the best way.”
GalleryLittle Troop: Nik Bentel Studio (Copyright © Little Troop, 2024)
Little Troop: Nik Bentel Studio (Copyright © Little Troop, 2024)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.