Zak Group imagines the next 50 years of design at Nike in a pocket-sized paperback

With Bráulio Amado on illustration and PWR supplying a lustrous visual language, Zak Group tries to interpret Nike’s future, as described in five short theses.

7 February 2023

No Finish Line has a lot of ground to cover. The new book, which is the result of a partnership between a small team at Nike, Zak Group and the publisher Actual Source, looks back at 50 years of the brand – a birthday Nike celebrated last year. It also delves into the next 50 years, predicting or, as Nike puts it, “projecting” a future vision for the brand as well as design and sport more generally. A century of concepts is covered in five essays, plus speculative fiction and interviews, unpacking major shifts design may undergo in the coming decades. All that’s left was to interpret these into one cohesive design.

Zak Group, the design office behind the work, uses found imagery to narrate concepts throughout: “We live in a profusion of images — why create more?” founder Zak Kyes explains of the thinking behind the approach. Interestingly, Zak Group didn’t constrict themselves to images from Nike’s archive. In fact, most of the images are not related to the subject matter at all, “but through visual games of metaphor and metonym, they start to provide new visual entry points in the author’s words”, says Zak. At one point, an inflatable 1975 structure from Viennese art and architecture collective Haus-Rucker-Co is used to reference the Air Max and Nike’s use of air as a material. Federico Sargentone supported Zak Group on image research.


Zak Group: No Finish Line, illustrations by Bráulio Amado, synthesised imagery by PWR (Copyright © Nike, 2023)

Bráulio Amado worked on illustration, depicting five speculative fictions, while Zak Group turned to PWR to treat the images that appear in the essay section. This is a prominent feature in the overall effect of No Finish Line, lending a burnished, monochromatic tone to the book. “We needed the images to coalesce into a singular visual-verbal tone,” says Zak. Our friends [at electronic music duo] Amnesia Scanner introduced us to the Berlin-based studio PWR who developed a custom script that gave the images a fluidness – almost as if they were printed with liquid mercury.”

No Finish Line is pocket-sized and is printed on paperback. Zak Kyes has a particular interest in experimental graphic paperbacks from the 60s and early 70s, which influences the final design. “In art school, while everyone was agonising over postmodernism, I found a copy of I Seem To Be a Verb in the library. Despite being dusty it felt fresh and relevant. The book combined stock images of current events and personalities with caption length sound bytes to create a completely non-linear reading experience,” says Zak.

With No Finish Line, Zak has had the opportunity to replicate this discovery. “I recently heard Peter Saville describe his work as drip feeding awareness through pop culture. You could say No Finish Line drip feeds a tradition of experimental paperbacks of the 1960s to readers today.” No Finish Line is available from 14 February through booksellers including Actual Source Books, Counterpoint and MagCulture.

GalleryZak Group: No Finish Line, illustrations by Bráulio Amado, synthesised imagery by PWR (Copyright © Nike, 2023)

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Zak Group: No Finish Line, illustrations by Bráulio Amado, synthesised imagery by PWR (Copyright © Nike, 2023)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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