”If you find a technical solution, then often the form is very appealing as well”
Design Director at Silhouette, on timeless classics
December 08, 2020
Tell me about your background?
— I’ve been at Silhouette for eight years. I started with industrial design, at a smaller agency. I’ve been working with consumer electronics, and a lot of products around your head, when I was approached by Silhouette. It was a happy occasion since I could move back to my home town Linz where I grew up.
What was it about Silhouette that you connected with?
— The minimalistic approach that Silhouette stands for, the lightness, the reduced elements. They really have a cult status. But it’s also a real challenge to design rimless frames. You have so little to design around!
How do you balance being a functional brand and a lifestyle brand?
— It’s interesting that we’re known for being this minimal and technical brand. If you look at our history, we actually started as a company that wanted to create something more fashionable and move away from the medical necessity of eyewear. If you look at the 70s it was actually quite crazy!
— A big part of what we do is to look at how functionality fits into what we want to express. Frames have to underline the character of the wearer, but it’s easy to create something that’s just a statement in your face. We look very carefully at how the frames feel, how they support the wearer. That’s essential.
”Frames have to underline the character of the wearer, but it’s easy to create something that’s just a statement in your face.”
How does your design process start?
— It’s different for different projects. Some pieces start from a fashion aspect, with interesting forms that appeal to trends. In that case, technology comes in second. With the core collection its the opposite. We have a nice piece of technology, and it’s all about making it better. Can we make the hinges smoother and more durable? Personally, I’m more from the technology side. If you find a simple technical solution, then often the form is very appealing as well.
You have the pursuit of innovation as part of your core values, how does that manifest itself in your work?
—It’s sort of a ping-pong match between the design and r%d departments. Sometimes the design department has an idea that they need help realising. But many times its the other way around, when r%d have sourced new materials and production methods that we designers can work with. But the hardest part is to bring it into production. The closer you work with all three departments, the smoother the process goes.
Your TMA line has been in space over 30 times and is a true icon. What’s it been like to have worked on that?
— One of my first projects was to update the tma collection. You have to be very careful, since it’s a very timeless design classic. I always compare it to a car model. There are many versions of the bmw3, but they are iterations of the same design.
What’s the most important thing to focus on right now as a designer?
— Definitely sustainability. How do we make sure to develop a product that has value and will last over time. The consumer is more curious about how things are made, where are they made, and their ecological footprint. We get a lot of things right. We have our own production in Austria that generates very little waste. The product is very timeless, uses very little materials, and people wear them for 5–10 years. That’s very sustainable from my point of view. The next round is the afterlife. How easy is it to recycle? We are now researing ways to detach the materials and parts easily.
Has the role of the designer changed?
— I think its our duty to make sure to always have the value of sustainability with us. Designers should be generating ideas so that society can move forward. Somebody has to start, and as designers we are at the forefront of generating those ideas.
What are you inspired by right now?
— What I really love. When I’m lying at home in my hammock, looking into the skies, seeing the clouds fly by. That’s how I work out my problems in my brain.