Rapha Cycling Caps — The Tour of California
In an exercise closely linked to type design but nevertheless a pleasant deviation for Colophon, we were commissioned by Rapha (on the heels of the custom type we’d drawn for them earlier that year, Mondial) to create a series of bicycle caps that would unofficially represent the cycling accessories brand at the 2015 annual Amgen Tour of California, widely regarded as the largest and most prestigious cycling event in North America.
Researching the route of the 700-mile (1130 km) race, we learned that the competition comprised ten legs in total, starting in California’s capital city of Sacramento and continuing on, North-South, to San Jose, Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, Santa Barbara, Santa Clarita, Big Bear Lake, Ontario, Mt. Baldy, Los Angeles, and Pasadena.
Our ensuing proposal to Rapha was to create a gradation of 10 interrelated caps — one for each leg of the race. Screen-printed in two colours onto cotton prior to the eight-panel construction of each hat, ten varying patterns quoted the diverse terrain that the race would pass through: from mountain to lake to beach, and over blacktop, bricks, and pavers.
And while the patterns nodded to geographical and infrastructural traits, colours were chosen that would purposefully stand out against the natural palette of the landscape. Like a relay baton being passed from stage to stage, each phase’s cap borrowed one colour from the previous leg, creating a continuous narrative or path akin to the race itself.
With six of eight panels given over to the patterns themselves, we devoted the two remaining panels to a customised set of characters and numerals derived from retail release La Fabrique and given a bit of racerly jaunt by way of grotesque movement within each of the characters.
Injecting this typographic flavour back into the product at a late stage in the creative process allowed us to initially think of each of the ten caps as ‘solvable’ forms unto themselves — akin to a serialised set of letters or characters — before typography was even introduced into the equation.
Typeface: La Fabrique Heavy with Custom Number Set
Medium: Screen-Printed Cycling Caps
Classification: Grotesque Sans Serif