MINI Design In Tension

29 Mar 2017

An invite to the inventors, thinkers, tinkerers and grid breakers.










Strategy | Branding | Campaigns | Activations | Experiences | Digital | Social |

Project Overview

MINI New Zealand invited Fly to be a creative partner for Urbis Design Day, an event that brings together the design community to revel in the latest design inspiration. The brief was to create an experience with design that made people smile, was engaging and intelligent and created a conversation around the experience of driving a MINI.

We got thinking about how great design delivers on function and aesthetic beauty in a harmonious way. But to deliver harmony requires tension - to break the grid, place things off centre and shift people off their feet. That resonated deeply with the MINI brand attitude and is at the heart of Fly's philosophy of design.

The Creative Solution

The MINI brand design system is based on a grid structure. We created a modified grid system that intentionally created tension. The words DESIGN IN TENSION share common letters, which we pushed certain letters outside the grid to cause people to look closer.

Working with our favourite artistic genius, Walter Hansen, we created an art installation composed of five sheets of 2.4 metre clear acrylic framed in a steel housing. Each sheet had hundreds of digitally printed and hand applied graphics. While each layer of the art told a story in and of itself, it was how these five layers interacted that created an experience with design in tension.

When the viewer stood at a precise point, 3 metres from the installation and looked through the five layers, the art revealed the words DESIGN IN TENSION. Each layer of artwork had to be scaled by a math-magician so that the layers further away would align perfectly with those closer to the viewer. An interesting design challenge.

The MINI Story

The art told a story of five interconnected layers in the MINI driving experience, taking you on a journey from the external environment to an internal emotional reaction. Layer 1: Bright city lights zooming by. Layer 2: air flow caressing the MINI - styled as retro MINI racing stripes. Layer 3: The unique design features of the MINI 5 Door Hatch that delivers a unique driving experience. Layer 4: The internal engineering. Layer 5: Converging on the thrill and adventure of driving a MINI.

Create Design, Win Design, Drive Design

We developed a full campaign across all channels, from pre-event invitations, online registration, website design & build, social media content and event management. The 800+ visitors to AUCKLAND MINI GARAGE were invited to CREATE, WIN and DRIVE DESIGN.

A screen printing experience with Glenn from Art Rite was a major hit. People were able to create their own perspective of design in tension, by how they applied tension to the screen. They could then win to have their artwork custom framed by Trent at Momentum Framing Gallery and a five week stint in a custom designed MINI 5 Door Hatch.

A "mini" art booklet was created, made with clear acetate sheets, creating the 5 layers of the art installation in take home form. Even the website was designed with tension in mind, by using Parralax to have layers of the site shift in and out of perspective. The client was over the moon with the response, having a 200% increase in MINI test drive bookings than expected.


Creative Director - Johnson McKay
Art & Design - Walter Hansen
Design - Helen Mai
Campaign Manager - Belinda Gliddon