A Dynamic Twist to FILA’s Half-century Legacy

Renowned Amsterdam-based design studio Thonik reimagined FILA's iconic logo, breathing new life into an emblem steeped in history and tradition.

Adrian Ho | Editorial Team27 Feb 2024

Thonik’s design concept revolved around playful manipulations of the F-box's simple shapes. 


Last September, FILA celebrated its 50-year legacy in sports by unveiling a pop-up store in Chengdu, the Mainland, which featured an exhibition of vibrant and dynamic iterations of the brand’s classic logo.


The logo, widely recognised as the ‘F-box’, was created by Sergio Privitera and introduced in 1973. Since then, it has become an enduring icon, remaining unchanged throughout the years. To reimagine the F-box logo for the anniversary event, FILA enlisted the services of Thonik, an Amsterdam-based design studio renowned for their distinctive and playful graphic work.


Driven by a design philosophy centred around openness, collaboration and playful modernism, Thonik has a remarkable track record of captivating the imagination of viewers. Their portfolio features notable projects such as the creation of the visual identity of M+ in Hong Kong, among others. Taking on the significant task of reimagining FILA’s timeless logo, Thonik sought to merge the brand’s rich history in sports with a modern design approach.



“We find inspiration in juxtaposing elite sports with high-quality graphic design, a combination that's surprisingly rare yet full of potential,” say Nikki Gonnissen and Thomas Widdershoven, co-founders and creative directors of the studio. “While the sports universe is full of fabulous fashion and product design, it typically lacks innovative graphic design, an area we're eager to explore further.”


Thonik focused on four key sports: basketball, tennis, mountaineering and sailing — a deliberate choice that reflected FILA’s illustrious history in sports. Over the years, notable figures accomplished remarkable athletic feats while adorned in the Italian brand: Grant Hill, a member of the USA Basketball Team, clinched gold in the 1996 Summer Olympics; Bjorn Borg triumphed five times in Wimbledon consecutively from 1976 to 1980; Reinhold Messner conquered Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen; Giovanni Soldini sailed solo in the Around Alone competition and won in record time.


“This project celebrated FILA's heritage and aimed to subtly evolve its brand identity, showcasing the role of thoughtful design in the evolution of sports branding,” add Gonnissen and Widdershoven. “Our design approach was careful to respect the original F-box logo while introducing new elements in terms of colour and texture.”


Motion played an important role as well. “Creating graphic through motion processes often yields unexpected and exciting results. This is particularly effective in conveying sports-related themes, like movement and dynamism.”


Thonik juxtaposed basketball, tennis, mountaineering and sailing with innovative graphic design to reimagine FILA’s logo.


Leveraging FILA's iconic primary colours, Thonik’s design concept revolved around playful manipulations of the F-box's simple shapes. “Our strategy was to keep the logo's design simple while going all out with the animation. This approach ensured consistency while allowing us to experiment boldly with the logo's motion.”


Maintaining the logo's simplicity is key. “By using the right balance of contrast and uncomplicated shapes, we maintained the logo's essence while injecting fresh, contemporary energy. We didn't redesign the logo; we added a dynamic twist.”


During their design process, Thonik encountered an intriguing challenge. Initially, they employed AI to create something technically impressive. However, the results proved to be eerie and lacked the celebratory essence they sought. Eventually, they took the reins and refined the concept, ensuring it aligned with their vision.


Thonik’s dynamic iterations of the FILA logo were displayed at the brand’s anniversary event in Chengdu, the Mainland last September.


Predicting the future role of AI in the realm of graphic design is an arduous task. Thonik's experimentation with current AI models, which rely on interpolation mechanics, revealed that these models have yet to master the nuanced approach employed by human designers.


“AI generates variations based on existing data, but it doesn't design in the human sense, which involves making deliberate, creative choices. While AI can augment our work and offer numerous options, it's far from a substitute for the human element in design,” the Dutch duo explain. “Right now, we see it mostly as a tool that requires a designer's expertise to be effectively utilised.”


In hindsight, Thonik expresses great satisfaction with the experience and takes pride in the outcome they have achieved. “This project showcases FILA's boldness and adaptability as a brand. Our ability to play with and transform its logo reflects FILA's openness and embrace of creative experimentation,” conclude Gonnissen and Widdershoven. “And good design goes beyond aesthetics; it's about using impactful design and strategic communication as tools to promote good ideas.”