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Up-and-coming artists film with On

Two design artists and filmmakers from Zurich created a piece of cinematography with On at its heart – we sat down with them to talk about their work.

The above is an incredible video made by two artists/designers/filmmakers from Zurich: Kathrin Grossenbacher from the ZHdK University and Brigitte Fässler. We sat with them both, Kathrin (K) and Brigitte (B), to talk about their inspirations as to the video, how they made it all happen, and why they chose On to be a part of their work.


Let’s start right at the beginning: how did On get on your radar as the right fit for the project?


K: Being a fashion designer, I came across On when I was doing my research. I was fascinated about the technology story behind the brand and because of that, I actually bought my first On sneakers in December 2015. Though I’m not a “runner” I still use them daily.



What happened from there?


K: In January 2016, On Co-Founder David Allemann wrote to ask me if I’d be interested in working in some way for On. Coincidentally he also wrote to me shortly after I had bought my first On shoes. At that time, I was busy finding a topic for my bachelor thesis in Visual Communication at ZhdK. As I already had a Bachelor’s Degree in fashion design, I thought it would be great to do my second bachelor around On. I wanted to find out about how sports fashion is communicated and how it can be pushed and enhanced.


B: For me as a filmmaker and photographer - with a focus on “stage photography/film” I was interested in creating a unique atmosphere and story – the shoes were perfect for a piece revolving around these themes.

Tell us about what went in to organizing and planning?


K: As we live in two different cities we communicated via Facebook and Skype.

We sent each other YouTube links and other sources of inspiration and gradually decided and agreed upon what we would like to do and how we would like to go about creating it. We then formed our team consisting of a dancer, a drone pilot and two people that ended up creating the incredible soundtrack for the end video.



What was the hardest part of it all?


B: The hardest part was that we had a strong deadline and only one chance to shoot and get it right – whatever the weather was like on shoot day would be it. Therefore, we planned everything very carefully: the storyboard, the location, the music – all of it. On the other hand, we had to stay open to react to spur-of-the moment situations and changes, like bad weather, that were always a very real possibility. In fact, on the shoot, we had to fight a very strong wind, but luckily, we were also overwhelmed/ inspired by the beauty of the dancer’s performance in the snow kicked up by the wind by night it was a blessing in the end.

Textures were created from the visual patterning of the shoes and the landscapes

The star of the video is incredible – how did you find the dancer?


B: We were looking for someone doing some sort of “subculture” dance and doing it not only as a “dancer” but as a way of life. Some months before the project started, I happened to see a video with the dancer we ended up using - Dakota Simao – and was mesmerized by his incredible talent. We (Kathrin and I) both thought that he would be perfect for our video and luckily for us, he thought the same thing and so from there we were able to plan it all out and work on it together.  



And the location - how was that found?


K: For my Bachelor’s thesis I re-created the On brochure, using a 3D program to transform the shoes into a “textile-landscape”. It was very important for me to find a location which suited the aesthetics of the renderings because I wanted to show them in the video, too. Brigitte suggested the Grimselpass with its imposing landscape and dams and we all thought it was the perfect mix of nature and artificiality plus a dash of “Swissness”.



What does the final video signify for you?


B&K: There is a lot of inspiration behind the video but also a lot of research. When we started working on VisualSportTranslation we first tried to get an overview of the sports-fashion industry and their visual communication styles. We took a close look at contemporary sport-fashion-brands to find out their ways of communicating their products. It is only after understanding conventional visualization that we could go beyond and develop our own new, and more interesting, ways and conceptions.


This is what we call "Visual Sport Translation"; it means that the sport shoes are communicated in an unusual way. There is a dancer instead of an athlete. Through his performance, he expresses his own vision and interpretation of the shoes creating something new, something which has an impact on the viewer and something which inspires him in turn.



With a video like this, I imagine your professors were, for lack of a better word, “impressed”?


K: I’d say we were impressed with ourselves – with things like the spirit and energy of our small team. And yes, we were happy about the good feedback from mentors and delighted that the magazine Wallpaper picked my thesis to show it in its Graduate Directory 2017 - within the discipline of visual communication.

So what’s next?


B&K: The connection between fashion and visual communication fascinates us and we feel that it offers a large field of work with lots of potential in it.


K: I have just worked for Claudiabasel and created the visual communication for the Doing Fashion Graduate Show 17 (the Institute of Fashion Design in Basel).


B: And I am currently working on an audio-visual project which brings sound, digital art and film together.


B&K: ...but, we are planning to do another project together, again in the field of fashion… you’ll have to wait and watch this space.



And after working with On for the project - do you run more now?


B&K: Yes, we run more since we’ve made the video - but still not that much. However, we love walking in On shoes.



And finally, what advice would you give to those who want to create something like you have?


B&K: Go for it - just go “On“!




Follow these two up-and-coming Swiss artists here:

Kathrin Grossenbacher // Brigitte Fässler