ShiftWalk’s cultivated typography forms a subtle, elevatory foundation for Palmar’s identity system
Nottingham-based ‘mini studio’ ShiftWalk have crafted the kind, refined and welcoming identity for Palmar, a modelling agency from London specialising in the championing and employment of BIPOC hand models. They are hoping to set a new industry standard for diversity and inclusion, and therefore, help to shape the commercial and editorial landscape. Aiming to make this mission clear and concise within an industry where it is far from the norm, ShiftWalk sought to toe the line between a slick, sophisticated, urbane aesthetic and Palmar’s subversive approach, intention and drive.
This balance is confidently achieved through the cultivated choice of typography, opting for Displaay’s Reckless Neue, Swiss Int’l from Swiss Typefaces and, notably, René Bieder’s Magnat Poster – which together, form a compelling alliance of contemporary and classic typographic tones. “The main criteria we were looking to satisfy in our wordmark was how it interacted with our imagery,” ShiftWalk Co-founder Isaac Powell tells us, noting Palmar’s drive for positive change as a significant factor in their typographic decision-making. “We knew we’d be looking to use the mark in conjunction with the shots of models with a high frequency,” Powell continues, so “the contrast that Magnat offers in its stroke widths was particularly appealing since it doesn’t dominate, even at large sizes,” he explains. Applied with supportive, emboldening intentions, the combination of typefaces forms a subtle, elevatory foundation for the identity, becoming part of the photography rather than taking precedent over it.
Palmar’s supportive intentions are also evident in the warming, skin-tone-inspired colour palette and the bespoke pattern inspired by the heritage of their founder. “Our goal is to only ever use the pattern work in conjunction with material that involves direct, in-person communication,” Powell explains, recalling its application on business cards and welcome packs for new models. “Otherwise, we revert to a custom array of colour combinations,” he remarks, a wide-ranging series of colours that can be seen with every refresh of Palmar’s website. “The pattern is essentially there to visually represent (the founder) Vanessa’s energetic and creative spirit within the brand,” Powell concludes, “without it being used in too many contexts.”