For the third installation of our 'Meet the Designer' series we caught up with Robert Dabi from ZIIIRO for a chat about watches.
1. What did you do before you became the designer for ZIIIRO and what attracted you to watch design?
Before ZIIIRO, I didn’t have anything to do with watches at all, even if I was always interested in them. For the 7-8 years before I had been working mostly in print design such as packaging and catalogues, nothing too fancy. I was always doing little projects on the side - that's how ZIIIRO started in 2009. The reason why I started is quite simple – I wanted to design a watch that i would like to wear. So I just started, without further particular plans. I ended up with something I thought could be really cool, so I continued to think about how it could be named and branded.
2. Is there a particular watch that you wish you had designed? What do you love about it?
There are many watches I like apart from ZIIIRO ones. If I had to pick just one, I'd say the "Ressence Type 3" because that’s the first one that came to my mind right now. What’s special about it is that the whole construction is fundamentally different from all other watches. It’s one of those expensive ones that costs as much as a car, and normally I don't like most of those watches.
3. What do you draw inspiration from when coming up with new designs?
Inspiration can come from anything I see, I can't even point out anything particular. When I look around, I often analyze things and start thinking what can be done with them, or how they could be improved or changed. Design-, art- and tech related websites are definitely also an important source of inspiration for me, I browse them every day. Studying and seeing other peoples work also contributes.
4. Do you have anything new in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
We are working on variants of 2 existing models, which I’m sure will be really cool. But that's a surprise ;) Right know we have watches with an analog movement, and the ones using a digital module like the Saturn & Titan. So we are just exploring to develop a watch using LEDs. Like other models, it will be minimal and fit our style. And after that, there are still plenty of ideas left :)
5. What are your thoughts on all of the hype surrounding wearable tech? Does it spell trouble for the traditional watch industry?
At first, I was afraid that there could be some revolutionary smart watch (looking at you, Apple) that could change the watch market so that everybody starts to wear the same (smart-)watch. Then I thought about it some more, about what real benefits a smart watch could have. If you take away all the hype and all the technical wows, I think the benefits are rather little. Not everything that is feasable is really helpful. So I’m starting to think that the situation with smart watches could be the same like when the first watches with digital displays came up. They didn't replace all analog ones, and both do still coexist.
6. Finally, how many watches do you have in your personal collection and which one is your most treasured (excluding your own designs)?
I used to have some watches before but nothing really special. As I said in the first question, that’s why ZIIIRO exist in the first place. So I have many ZIIIRO watches, and it’s all I wear. My wife wouldn’t allow me to wear anything else anyway :D The most treasured ones are the prototypes.
I often come across watches I really like, for example recently I came across some nice "Shinola" watches. But until now, I never felt the need to buy them.