Nicole Belskaya embraces warmth, contrast and constriction in Etis Living’s free-spirited identity
The identity for Slovenian home decor store Etis Living, designed by Tbilisi-based designer Nicole Belskaya, captures a retro spirit firmly contextualised in its contemporary climate. “I wanted to create a minimalistic brand identity but not one with no character,” Belskaya tells us, “sadly, those two are often mixed up,” she adds, wanting to shape a visual language that felt homely. “We should be fluid with our design choices,” Belskaya continues, “the most visually appealing homes are the ones where items are mixed but mixed smartly” – a notion fully embraced in Belskaya’s eccentric icon and type-led identity.
Supported by Monotype’s Helvetica in tertiary body copy, Belskaya opted for Lift Type’s Tartuffo and Exposure from 205TF as the primary and secondary typefaces, sat alongside unique, unconventional icons created for each item sold. “Tartuffo was my obvious favourite for logotype,” Belskaya details, deciding on an elegant serif due to its appropriate tonal relation to the store. “Tartuffo is a great choice because it has character,” she continues, praising its distinctly recognisable forms. “It’s trendy, but it’s individualistic at the same time,” she adds.
Alongside Tartuffo’s charismatic, contrasting letterforms, Exposure’s amiable construction provides a playful tension between typefaces, embodying the free-spirited nature of the brand. “Mixing the warmth of Exposure with Tartuffo’s class and strictness has been a lot of fun,” she recalls, further lauding the typeface’s aesthetic alignment with Helvetica. “I’m not sure why but somehow it works perfectly with every brand identity I work on,” Belskaya suggests, “I try not to overuse Helvetica, but in this case, it was my and the client’s ultimate first favourite.”
Due to Etis Living’s jumble of typefaces – each applied with a distinct, unconventional styling, such as textured noise or tight kerning – alongside the already eclectic curation of objects themselves, Belskaya turned to a more subdued colour palette on the broader brand execution. “I figured out most of its visual communication would be featuring the design pieces,” she explains, “and I wouldn’t be able to track those and create an identity in which every time the graphic and photographic parts mix nicely,” deciding to combat this through minimal use of colour. “That way, the identity complements the products but doesn’t take away all the attention,” Belskaya concludes, combining type, icon and imagery to create something “elegant but not too pretentious.”