A Word From Our Designers

Last year VOLO Athletics launched a new design for its soccer balls and is now extending the design into new keeper gloves to be unveiled this month at the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Baltimore, USA. We thought it would be a good time to catch up to Arran Murphy and Jon Hannan, the designing minds behind the new look…

By Arran Murphy, Senior Designer

When James approached Jon and I to create the 2019 VOLO ball designs, our first step after accepting the challenge was to gain a better understanding of VOLO as a brand; its core values and what James was hoping to achieve with the latest designs. We had numerous conversations to ascertain these important foundational elements as a starting point.

Through research and a few working sessions we were able to define our project objective; ‘To find a balance in creating a ball design that is unique, contemporary and desirable enough that it conveys both quality and performance, while maintaining awareness of Fair Trade.’

With a clear aim, we developed a creative strategy comprising three ‘corridors’ – each proposing a divergent approach to visual language components such as colour, texture, patterning and typography. Each corridor broadly encapsulated a different key characteristic we had identified from our earlier discussions: Performance, Bold and Principled.

Aligning on the ‘Bold’ corridor gave us a strong strategic foundation and provided specific themes to focus on during design exploration; dynamic juxtaposition, vibrant colour palettes and geometric patterning. We developed a wide range of initial ideas for James’ consideration, also demonstrating how each design might scale across three value tiers: entry, intermediate and premium, before eventually agreeing upon the final design.

The concept is based on an isometric grid – this seemed an obvious choice given that the equilateral triangles both create the hexagonal forms used in traditional soccer ball templates, and mirror the existing VOLO ‘V’ mark. The main tessellating pattern is an abstraction of the letterforms ‘VOLO’ and these graphic shapes offer opportunities for large areas of vibrant colour. Although all elements follow the framework of a robust grid system, the final design feels incredibly dynamic. The sense of energy derived from the visual tension between the shapes and the juxtaposition of white space make for an engaging design.

Once into the production phase we began to apply the chosen design onto the ball template. Physically mapping the design onto an actual ball was critical, as moving into a 3 dimensional space enabled us to make key decisions such as which tiles would best serve to house the VOLO logo, Fair Trade certification mark, ball information and pinhole. Significantly, we also had to augment the pattern in areas, manipulating the integrity of the geometry so that it would appear optically correct once printed.

While James worked in the background on the price points, production and technical qualities of the three different ball tiers, the final stage of our production process was to develop colour systems and visual differentiators that could be used by the consumer to identify each of these categories. We decided that on the intermediate and premium balls, the isometric grid could actually become a feature of the design – highlighting it in a metallic silver to elevate the design. These two balls also have a textured matte surface as an additional quality cue. The premium match ball, TORRENT, stands alone in that it offers a one-of-a-kind colour palette as well as additional halftone patterning within the coloured facets of the graphics.

The end result is a cohesive range of stunning soccer balls that visually encapsulates the values VOLO stands for. The bold and dynamic aesthetic allows the new range to fit seamlessly within the soccer ball category whilst simultaneously offering something uniquely appealing to the consumer. It is also a design which can be applied across additional products in the VOLO line up, such as keeper gloves.

We enjoyed every aspect of creating these designs. It was a new and informative challenge for both myself and Jon where we feel we not only answered the brief, but created something awesome in the process. Further, we believe these balls will contribute to the awareness of Fair Trade as the mark sits within and alongside the finished ball design elevating one another. Now the final stage of this exercise is to see the brand in action on the pitch! We hope players like it as much as we do.


Jon Hannan and Arran Murphy met whilst studying Graphic Design and Art Direction together in Manchester, UK.

Jon progressed to do a masters in design, completing his thesis on design in football, and is now Professor of Communication Design at the prestigious Emily Carr University of Arts & Design. Jon consults for VOLO Athletics on various projects.

Arran is an award-winning designer specialising in creative strategy, brand identities and visual design systems, and worked as a graphic designer for Manchester United Football Club before moving to Vancouver. Arran contracts as a designer for VOLO Athletics.


For more information on VOLO Soccer Balls and VOLO Keeper Gloves visit our Shop Page

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