Fraser Muggeridge Studio has created a series of typographic props and animation for three Nike Russia commercials directed by Daniel Wolfe. The props for the Never Ask films feature a bespoke typeface with numerous “Xs” designed by the studio.
“The ‘X’ is an icon for never," Muggeridge tells It’s Nice That. "It symbolises the obstacles the hero athletes have faced in their careers – people telling them they can’t run marathons as a partially-sighted athlete or can’t be a synchronised swimmer if you’re a man. The athletes are demonstrating that actually you can – they just do it!”
One film features partially-sighted runner Elena Fedoseeva, who overcomes being told that she shouldn’t run to become an athlete. Here the “X” manifests itself on an eye chart, bibs, signage, and the marathon start line. In the second ad, synchronised swimmer Aleksandr Evgenyevich is faced with the “X” on an underwater sign held up by a competition judge, and for the third the “X” icon appears to taunt footballer Fyodor Smolov almost subliminally throughout on props such as rubber stamps, football scarves, computer screens and animations.
Muggeridge and Rachel Treliving, a graphic designer at the studio, worked with Wolfe on each graphic application. “The ‘X” is made from different stencil elements, so you can make lots of different versions,” says Muggeridge. “With five different elements you can make numerous versions. It was about having many different “Xs” that could be used.” Muggeridge adds, “A lot [of applications] don’t make the cut because it’s not quite right, or too costly to realise, and there’s lots of levels of approval. So obviously not everything we produced is in the final cut.” The films were produced by Lee Groombridge at Somesuch with advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam.
Fraser Muggeridge Studio first collaborated with British director Daniel Wolfe on his debut feature film Catch Me Daddy in 2014, and has continued to make typographic props for his TV commercials. “We’re not not known for doing this kind of work but we do a lot of it now,” says Muggeridge.
The London-based designer feels that film is providing growing opportunities for graphic designers. “We’re almost acting as a typographic art department. That’s interesting because not many people do that. The famous example is Wes Anderson, it’s very important to him. But it’s something that film directors are getting more into as everything gets more high-def. You can’t just cobble up a bit of plastic in the background and hope that no-one will notice it. Graphic design is an integral part now.”