Over the past few months, Kate Moross has been keeping the fact they’ve been working with the Spice Girls a massive secret. A “huge fan” of the band since childhood, the influence of Ginger, Scary, Sporty, Baby and Posh is well known by those who follow the designer, who often speaks about their importance in talks and their book Make Your Own Luck: A DIY Attitude to Graphic Design & Illustration.
“It was a real pinch yourself moment to be working with them,” Kate tells It’s Nice That. “We were under NDA so I wasn’t able to tell anyone until it was confirmed, it was a very difficult secret to keep as I was so excited about it!”
Asked to join a proposal on tour visuals by creative director Lee Lodge alongside production designer Jason Sherwood and lighting designer Tim Routledge, Kate first met the reunited Spice Girls in November. Since then, it’s been pretty much non-stop for the team and Studio Moross, who embarked on creating the entire stage visuals and merchandise too.
As art director on the project under Lee, Kate’s main role within the project “was to steer the visual design elements of the show,” they explain. The first step was creating the overall stage graphics with Jason, “and how this extended onto the screens for the ‘House Look’ which is the overarching brand for the show,” Kate explains. It was here where the art director’s team at Studio Moross were hard at work too, designing and animating live visuals under the guidance of animation lead, Tim Marriott. “This was a huge undertaking, we created bespoke content for every song in the show, as well as interstitial films and segues,” they tell us.
Well versed in the details of designing for stage following their work with Disclosure and several festivals, Kate points out that this was by far their biggest project yet: “There were so many people working on it at the studio we had to get a caterer to feed everyone!”
With so many elements at play, Kate’s team “managed a live document that the creative team shared which we updated everyday as the show evolved, so everyone understood the visual direction,” they explain. “From lighting, costume to choreography, Lee knows how to direct a team to create their best work. We spoke and met regularly to ensure we all understood the show from top to bottom.”
Once all live show graphics were decided upon, the team were then also commissioned “to develop the branding and merchandise for a new wave of 2019 creative,” as Kate puts it. For this, the immediate visuals fans will notice on this tour’s merchandise is a Spice World typeface, a bold, capitalised typeface which references the lettering used across Spice Girls’ previous albums. Working together with Marianna Orsho to remaster the typeface under the team’s developed brand guidelines, Kate also oversaw the development of the first two drops of march. “My favourite of these were the individual girl tees, they were a little teaser of what was to come with the show, and they were really well received.”
Now with the tour in motion and continuing across the UK throughout the year, Kate admits they’re “still in shock” when we probe the art director about what some of their favourite parts of the process were. “I think we are all just so happy with how well received it has been.”
However one element Kate hopes fans, old and new, will recognise within the design work is an appreciation of “how much research we put into the project,” they say. Over the past few months the whole of Studio Moross, alongside Lee, Jason and Tim, have “immersed ourselves in the Spice brand” to provide work representative of not only the Spice Girls but the eager excitement of fans too.
That said, the design work contributed by Studio Moross – and in our eyes some of its best to date – is fully the Spice brand through “a 2019 lens,” Kate points out. “It was important to me that we brought the brand into 2019. This tour is all about nostalgia,” the art director admits, “but it’s equally about the cycle of reinvention of the 90s aesthetic that has been happening in visual culture for the last few years. We wanted to hit that sweet spot between nostalgia and now.”
Also for those of you lucky enough to blag tickets for the tour, look out for “lots of Easter eggs in the design,” Kate says, “hidden design elements that reference old merch, live show moments, Spice World, you name it, we referenced it somewhere!”
Full list of credits: Creative direction and production Lee Lodge, choreography and stage direction by Paul Roberts, music production by David Odlum, set design by Jason Sherwood, art direction by Kate Moross, lighting design by Tim Routledge and costume design by Gabriella Slade.
Studio Moross: production by Hazel Falck and Max Badger, studio management by Alice Best, research by Mable Cable and touring production management by Holly Sandeman. Animation lead by Tim Marriott and animators on the project include Rez Alom, TR Bennett, Rory Cahill, Nick Canticus, Therese Detje, Dexter George, Sayeed Islam, Peter Kent, Leio Kirtley, Linus Kraemer, Lara Lee, Andy Needham, Rose Pilkington and Teresa Tang. Design by Harry Butt, Rachel Noble, Stephanie Fung, Berke Yazicioglu, Marianna Orsho, Christina Poku, Nick Greenbank and Oscar Torrans.
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