Responses by MINI USA and Piper Hickman, executive creative director, 360i NY
Background: Since its beginning, MINI has been a brand that embodies the creator’s spirit. It was designed by a man who was a bit of a rebel, and saw opportunity where no one else did. We wanted to tell MINI’s origin story, and we wanted to do it in a new way that would engage creative thinkers everywhere with a similarly rebellious spirit.
Reasoning: The story of MINI’s creator, Alec Issigonis, deserved to be told, and it deserved to be told in a way befitting of his genius. Paying homage to Alec, and to the time period the MINI was introduced, was important to us. This is where the creative decision to tell the story through a book was made. In addition, we wanted to create a visual narrative that drew people in, all without the use of special effects or animation. With the simplest of tools, we wanted to delight an audience—much like what Alec did sixty years ago.
Another theme we explored was the power of small things and how they can have a monumental effect. Alec was just one man, yet he re-engineered the way we drive. The MINI is a small car, yet it is powerful and has historical merit. Our one-minute eighteen-second film takes place on a tabletop with only illustrations and light, yet it tells a big, cinematic story about the birth of an iconic brand.
Challenges: The impetus for this project was to tell the story of MINI in a way that engages the creative class. From the beginning, it was meant to be artful and informative. Finding the right balance was something we were all mindful of during the process.
Favorite details: The level of craft in our piece is a definite point of pride. Virginia Mori’s illustrations, the foundation of the film, are steeped in detail and speak volumes despite being ballpoint pen on paper. Then there’s the book that’s brought to life through light—the way director Virgilio Villoresi compiled Virginia’s drawings and gave them life through cutouts, pop-ups and light made for a fantastic finished product. We’ve been talking about it internally as a form of “analog animation.”
Visual influences: We didn’t want this to look like any other automotive work. We wanted to stand out from the crowd and create something intimate, narrative-driven and inspiring because of its simplicity. We also wanted the final piece to have a tactile feeling, almost like the film itself was “engineered,” much like the car itself. Because of this, Virgilio’s sensibilities sat well with us. He is inspired by old-world animators, experimental cinema legends and anything avant-garde. His references made for the perfect recipe for our project.
Anything new: Never underestimate the power of trust, especially when you are partnering with people who are passionate about your project.