Yair Neuman Wires Courtesy of Wires

Ready for Liftoff
For the speed issue we take a look at forward-thinking disruptors and innovators from the startup capitals of the world. These are the people behind the big ideas that are changing the future, coming up with new ways to look at old problems, and in the process inspiring us by their entrepreneurial spirit and their ambition to execute change.

Interview JUSTIN ROSS

YAIR NEUMAN, WIRES
Curious Daring Simple | A Fresh Take on Eyewear Design, Wires Reimagined

Company: Wires
Position: Founder and Designer
Age: 34
Location: London
Founded: 2017
Website: Wiresglasses

“When you innovate you have to move fast as good ideas catch on”

YAIR NEUMAN, WIRES
YAIR NEUMAN, WIRES

Who is Wires Glasses?

Wires glasses is an independent eyewear brand which looks to change how eyewear is made and worn. We aim to minimize material usage in design and production, and encourage you to keep your pair of wires for life. The glasses are made from a single piece of stainless steel wire with an invisible screw-less hinge mechanism which pairs with lens rims in a variety of shapes. This modular approach to eyewear means that you can change your look without needing to buy a whole new pair of glasses.

Why did you start your company?
The idea for Wires came after I needed some sunglasses for a holiday and made a pair with what I had in my studio. This became the first prototype. But I’ve been obsessed with wire for a long time and the possibilities it presents to create and shape. You only need to look at African wire craft, especially in Zimbabwe, where our first collection was made. I see wire as living between a 2D and a 3D world. It can be a flat signature or silhouette but also a complex deep structure. So, that summer day back in 2016 it made perfect sense for me to wear a piece of wire around my head with some lens rims which I’d 3D printed in the workshop! The result is a simplified eyewear frame based on what’s needed to hold the lenses in the right place.

What makes your company different? 

We aim to minimize material usage in design and production, and encourage our customers to have their pair of wires for life. We want people to treat and wear Wires in the same way they would a necklace or a ring.

What have you learned from starting a company?
That it’s all about the people who form it.

What were the most difficult challenges along the way? 

Finding the right core team of people to work with and the producers who are willing to take risks.

What did you do before your current role? 

Produced ceramic speakers in Stoke on Trent (England’s pottery town).

Where do you look for inspiration as an entrepreneur? Any books or role models that have been particularly influential? 

Fashion idols like Bowie or Oskar Schlemmer are kind of a default. I now find myself looking more into structures and mechanisms, bringing them out from the backstage and try to reveal their beauty.

What does it mean to be a startup?
That it’s both reassuring and pressuring that someone believes you’ll succeed big time.

Is it important to be first or fastest? 

It depends. In a highly competitive market such as eyewear with the well-established brands, when you innovate you have to move fast as good ideas catch on. Though for a new brand this can be more challenging as production and distribution is still being built and need time for testing.

What advice do you have for people with a great idea who want to start their own business? 

Try not to fall in love with your own creation and when appropriate let others lead.

In ten years where do you want to be? 

In a small Greek village working on new ranges that will bring technology and fashion even closer together in ways that would benefit both the user and the environment.

Photo: courtesy of Wires

Leah Lange Junique Bert Spangemacher

Ready for Liftoff
For the speed issue we take a look at forward-thinking disruptors and innovators from the startup capitals of the world. These are the people behind the big ideas that are changing the future, coming up with new ways to look at old problems, and in the process inspiring us by their entrepreneurial spirit and their ambition to execute change.

Interview JUSTIN ROSS
Photography BERT SPANGEMACHER

LEA LANGE, JUNIQE
Creative Exciting Innovative | For Culture Lovers, Art within Reach

Company: JUNIQE
Position: Co-Founder & Managing Director
Age: 31
Location: Berlin
Founded: 2014
Website: juniqe

“A truly great idea has to solve a problem and make something better, faster, less expensive, or more efficient.”

What is JUNIQUE?
JUNIQE brings together carefully curated, yet affordable wall art posters, framed prints, and more from over 600 artists. While JUNIQE HQ is in Berlin, we have customers across 13 countries in Europe. Since our launch, the company has secured more than €20 million ($24 million) of investment and now employs 100 members of staff.

Why did you start your company?
The idea for JUNIQE came about when I was furnishing my home and helping friends decorate theirs. There were plenty of places to buy well-designed furniture at all sorts of price points, but it was incredibly difficult to find something exciting for the walls. I wanted to change that.

What makes your company different?
With JUNIQE, we disrupted the market—what we’re offering now simply didn’t used to exist. Art meant fine art and the sector was dominated by a small circle of people who were in the know about what even constitutes art and which artists to follow. They tended to be the people who had the money to buy real art, so it was quite an exclusive circle. At the other end of the spectrum was mass-produced wall art. There was nothing in between.

What were the most difficult challenges along the way?
One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced so far was right at the beginning. We tried to raise money without having any real data, customers, or even a website. All we had was our business plan and a presentation. It takes a lot of passion and perseverance when you’re starting out and you have to convince a lot of players that your idea makes sense. Whether they’re investors, staff, or creative talent, it’s impossible to persuade them if you’re not passionate about the idea yourself.

Where do you look for inspiration as an entrepreneur?
For startup-related inspiration, I regularly read First Round Review, a blog by Eight Roads. I get my industry-related inspiration from Horizont, W&V, and Business of Fashion for Marketing. But I also come from an entrepreneurial family—both my father and grandfather ran their own businesses. I have great respect for both of them, and of course grew up with a certain openness to entrepreneurship.

Is it important to be first or fastest?
Fastest, I guess. That’s why startups can turn entire industries upside down: they are making things better, more efficient, and solve problems—a lot quicker than anyone else could.

What advice do you have for people with a great idea who want to start their own business?

If I was giving one single piece of advice about founding a startup, it would be to focus on the most important thing that drives your business. And that includes saying “no” to things when you need to. Building a company from the ground up is unbelievably challenging. You have to invest a lot of time and resources, and be focused on moving the business forward. When you start out, everything feels like it’s happening at the same time. You have to prepare for the unexpected and be able to think on your feet.

In ten years where do you want to be?
Good question. Probably right where I am now: an entrepreneur seeing problems and solving them.

Adrian Bianco Eyewear by BLACKFIN ESBJERG Bert Spangemacher

Ready for Liftoff

For the speed issue we take a look at forward-thinking disruptors and innovators from the startup capitals of the world. These are the people behind the big ideas that are changing the future, coming up with new ways to look at old problems, and in the process inspiring us by their entrepreneurial spirit and their ambition to execute change.

Interview JUSTIN ROSS
Photography BERT SPANGEMACHER

ADRIAN BIANCO, BIANCISSIMO
Global Youth Culture | A Tokyo Transplant Uncovering Subcultures

Eyewear by BLACKFIN ESBJERG
Eyewear by BLACKFIN ESBJERG

 

Project: Biancissimo & Ruby Pseudo – Worldwide
Position: I do too many things
Age: 32
Location: Global
Founded: 2016
Website: www.biancissimo.com

“Being real and honest will not help you making profit and gain friends in the industry, but people will start respecting and trusting you.”

What is your mission?
I started this project to shine light on subcultures, creative minds, driving forces and young voices that don’t necessarily have to be famous or known. It is also to guide people to the best and most authentic food and make them buy plane tickets to Japan.

What makes your project (or you) different?
It’s not about me.

What have you learned from starting this project?
Being real and honest will not help you making profit and gain friends in the industry, but people will start respecting and trusting you.

What were the most difficult challenges along the way?
To keep my content authentic, mostly unpaid and to do this all next to earning money with all my other jobs. I basically say no to a lot of advertorials and paid content because I work a lot all the time on other jobs and projects. It’s not easy, my energy is limited and I barely have a single day without work. That’s the life I choose.

What did you do before your current role?
I worked for Virtue/Vice as a creative, also as an editor-in-chief. I did a lot for Adidas Originals and a little bit for Nike. I did the whole “creative person in Berlin” thing. Stuff that sounds nice when you tell them someone at a bar, but it’s just work at the end of the day. Lovely and necessary.

Where do you look for inspiration as an entrepreneur?
I look at strong women. They are my inspiration. I only grew up with women and for me a woman is everything. She’s the boss, whoever she is. I also like to look up to Manga/Anime heroes. They never forget to laugh about themselves, they never take themselves too seriously and they are super strong still. I like that.

What does it mean to be a startup?
Work a lot, invest a lot of time, be free, be afraid of taxes, be able to sleep as long as you want and still wake up at 7am.

Is it important to be first or fastest?
Be real. That’s the most important thing.

What advice do you have for people with a great idea who want to start their own business?
Just do it. It took me so long to finally start and I could have done it way earlier. I was too afraid, but you will always be afraid of doing your own thing. So don’t wait.

In ten years where do you want to be?
In my office in Tokyo.

Thomas-Wirthensohn Eyewear by JACQUES MARIE MAGE Lance Cheshire

HOMME LESS in The City – Thomas Wirthensohn

Interview CHRISTINE TOMAS
Photography LANCE CHESHIRE

By day, Mark walks the streets of New York wearing a designer suit, looking like a million bucks. With a job working in the fashion and movie industries, to some, he is the American dream personified. But at night, this dream turns to nightmare; the truth is that Mark is homeless.

I love vintage glasses, the first pair was a pair of black frames I found at a flea market in Vienna.

New York is renowned for being a city that never sleeps with an energy and a rush that outstrips nearly anywhere else and housing market that keeps pace, too. But what happens when the demands of the city and the exorbitant cost of living are too much to handle? Who gets left behind, and why? What does it take to make it in the city and what is the human cost of business? Edited from more than 200 hours of footage shot over the course of almost three years, Thomas Wirthensohn’s directorial debut HOMME LESS captures the raw, unfiltered beauty of NYC and the lengths some have to go to make a living there. 4SEE spoke with Thomas to learn about the inspiration behind his award-winning film, as well as what’s next for the talented filmmaker with a social conscience.

How do you know Mark and how did you find out he was homeless?
We met in the late ’80s working for the same modeling agency in Europe. 30 years later, we ran into each other at a photo exhibit in NYC. He was wearing a classic grey suit, looking like a movie star. After a couple of hours together in a bar and a few drinks later, I asked him where he lived. He revealed he didn’t have an apartment and that he had been secretly sleeping on a rooftop for 3 years.

Most of your previous work revolved around advertising production and filming. What inspired you to create this documentary? 
Documentary filmmaking and advertising have a very different work process. It can be inspiring to work in a team and do the best to achieve a certain outcome or product, but I had the desire to create something without strict guidelines and limitations other than my own. Mark fascinated me on many levels. At first I was intrigued by the discrepancy between his appearance and his lifestyle. Although his story was pretty unique, I began to wonder how many more were out there living on the edge, struggling to keep up the facade of a well-off citizen, but barely making enough to survive. His life style seemed very courageous and adventurous, but at the same time dark and depressing. Those conflicts interested me and the idea was born.

Eyewear by JACQUES MARIE MAGE
Eyewear by JACQUES MARIE MAGE

What was Mark’s initial reaction when you came up with the idea for the documentary? 
I think he was flattered, but at first not sure if I could pull it off. After all, it was my first film and I didn’t know what I was doing. Really, I just knew that I had to make this film, no matter what, and I believe that determination convinced him. One week after his revelation, we started shooting, and by that I mean, just him and me, all the way through. No sound guy, no assistant, no producer. Guerrilla style.

What was your overall vision?
I didn’t want to come from a place of judgment. My goal was to show his life from different angles and let him explain it. In the beginning, I even tried to help him until I realized that he quite enjoyed his adventurous and unique life on the roof and that he wasn’t open for change. It wasn’t my intention to find a solution for a certain situation; rather, more about raising questions that would start a discussion. It worked—people started to talk about the film and we had many really great experiences on our festival tour and, of course, globally, media picked up on it as well. We even went on The View, Whoopi Goldberg’s show.

Mark has put up this ruse for years. Neither his mom nor his friend whose roof he lived on had a clue about his situation. While filming, were there ever moments where you sensed that he wasn’t being truthful?
Truth, I believe, is rather subjective. We describe the world how we see it from our own perspective. That doesn’t mean others are seeing it the exact same way and we have to respect that. Of course, we can agree on basic things like “this apple is red,” but while I think it tastes sweet, someone else might think it’s sour. I wasn’t so worried about him ‘lying’ to me, because I could see that his story was real. I think he enjoyed talking about his life in front of a camera. He even said it helps him to collect his thoughts and almost feels like therapy. In my opinion, he was lying more to himself about why he found himself in this situation. We all have to deal with our own issues and shortcomings and it takes courage. It can hurt to dig deep to find the truth of who we really are. If you’re not prepared to go that path, your life will spin in circles and you’re facing the same problems over and over again. That’s my experience anyways.

Do you still keep in touch? 
Yes, but we don’t see each other often.
If you were a screenwriter instead of a documentarist, how would Mark’s story end?
Good question. If I was a Hollywood screenwriter Mark would meet the girl that saves him and they would drive towards the sunset together and live happily ever after. (laughs.) Ironically, this almost happened to him, but in the end, it didn’t work out. The thing is that the story really never ends. When I watch a film where the guy finally gets the girl, that’s the end of the film, but in real life it’s the beginning of everything else.

You used to live in Vienna. Do you think a story like Mark’s could exist there?
Vienna has a better quality of life when you count in all the factors like prices, air quality, healthcare, standard of living, etc. Mark’s story could exist in Vienna because he wasn’t completely forced in to his situation by his circumstances, but made a choice at some point. As difficult as it was, it gave him a certain feeling of independence and freedom. When I talk to him today, he says he misses the roof.

What are you working on next?
I’m working on a few documentary projects right now. One is about consciousness, science, and psychedelic substances. Another one is about my mother-in-law who was an iconic figure in Harlem in the sixties and seventies. I’m also working on a short film about a PanAm stewardess from back in the day.

Eyewear by JACQUES MARIE MAGE
Eyewear by JACQUES MARIE MAGE

Studio Interior Portrait: Photographed at Bath House Studios, New York City,
Special thanks to James Gingold

Studio Roof top Portraits: Photographed at Go Studios Penthouse, New York City,
Special thanks to Halley

Special thanks to Roger Dong, G.E Projects, New York City

clodagh

Life-Enhancing Minimalism

Interview TOMIO NAGAOKA
Photography ERIC LAIGNEL

In the complex world of eyewear, the most beautiful designs are often the most simple, seamlessly integrated with our own sense of identity to enhance our wellbeing while enhancing our sense of style. The fundamentals of good quality design are universal attributes and what better place to learn about them than from one of the top design firms in the world: Clodagh Designs. Acclaimed designer Clodagh has been redefining the world we live in, from private sanctuaries to aspirational spaces like luxury hotels and spas, through her studied application of interior design strategies that blend her own brand of “Life-Enhancing Minimalism™” with a wide range of influences from Feng Shui to chomotherapy.

Her innovative approach to interior design includes an award-winning portfolio that spans projects in more than 30 countries. Since the beginning, Clodagh has been inspired by the environment, championing eco-conscious projects around the world. Today, Clodagh’s designs can be found across a broad range of projects from million-square-foot hotels, residential buildings, international spas, private residences, restaurants, retail stores and showrooms to women’s apparel and cosmetic packaging, branding, furniture, and even on private jets and luxury yachts.

What she has learned from her many years of designing spaces is that design is not just about design but about “creating experiences that people can enjoy”. Clodagh takes a holistic approach to design with the ultimate goal of supporting and enhancing wellbeing through her interpretation of the spaces around us. Her third book called Life-Enhancing Design on the subject of designing for wellbeing will be published later this year. She tells 4SEE about her storied career as a designer, her design philosophy, and the transformative power of designing environments for living well.

What is your “core” design philosophy? Are there one or two very simple words to describe it that are unique to you and to no one else?
Life-enhancing minimalism. Everything that you need, but nothing more than what you need. But everything that you need to feel well and happy. Because I believe in design for wellness. I design for wellness and make sure that homes support peoples’ lives. I like universal designs—you’re designing for babies and hundred-year-olds. It’s a whole-life process.

As an interior designer, one of your hallmarks is that you are very particular about materials, and textures… Can you tell me why that is?
That’s what I’m all about. Because nature is full of textures. Although I like shiny and hard things too, you need the counterpoint, I think. I think design is like composing music. There’s a theme that runs through, there are high notes and low notes. If it’s all one note, it’s boring. So the textures are incredibly important to me. Also, I’ve been working since 1986 with Feng Shui and biogeometry, biophilia, chromotherapy… I’m very careful how I weave these modalities into my work, and use experts to help me to do that. So that people really feel comfortable and safe when they’re in one of my spaces.

So it’s not only about the beauty in design?
Design is not about design. Design is about creating experiences that people can enjoy.

How do you get that inspiration when you’re discussing a project with a client who may not know anything about interior design?
Well, the client may not know anything about interior design, but everybody is a brand. Every person is a brand. For example, I have a saying that you can put the same ingredients down in front of 50 different chefs and you’ll get 50 different dishes. So we very often use words to write a narrative before we put lines to paper. We actually interview the client, and ask them very firm questions. That interview is extremely important because that’s what I consider the branding process. Design involves a huge amount of observation, psychology, and watching how people move through space.

Your sort of approach applies to any kind of interior design…
It does, and now we also do consulting on gardens and art, as well. I very often sit in a café and just watch people. We’re doing a big hotel and restaurant in the Cayman Islands, and yesterday the team went out, and we had a drink, and just watched how the chef and restaurant that we thought was the closest to what we might be doing prepared the food – how they styled it before they presented it. Because you really have to think of the “back-of-house” and everything. It’s not just “front-of-house”. So we design, in a sense, from the inside out, as well as from the outside in. I think a lot of design is from the outside in, we’re from the inside out.

I’ve witnessed that many interior designers’ work looks obsolete or stale after a number of years. Your work, on the other hand, becomes enriched as time passes. Why is that?
You see, I don’t believe in trends, I believe in movements. My movement has always been toward simplicity, comfort, joy, wonderful art, wonderful food… and I’ve also been very influenced by Japan. Before I was ever there, people thought I was influenced by Japan. Perhaps I was Japanese in a past life… but you see the beautiful buildings in Japan, they don’t change, they’re just beautiful, that’s it! Even from architects like Tadao Ando, they don’t change, they’re just beautiful. There’s no need to constantly change, just go in the right direction. If design is honest and you’re really taking care of people, and taking care of what they need, it’s going to last forever.

You started out as a fashion designer when you were a teen in Ireland, but at some point you changed your career from fashion design to interior design. How did that come about, and why?
Well, I changed husbands, countries and careers, basically. I was a fashion designer—I had a very well-known company—but I didn’t have a good marriage! [Laughs] So I met a man, married him, and I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do. I closed my business in Dublin, and he decided he wanted to live in Spain for a while. I didn’t speak Spanish, so I asked him if I could take care of the old house that we had bought on a really beautiful old square. I could deal with the architect and I was going to learn Spanish along the way, while he did his business. And I realized, when I was talking to the architect, that the architect was not really very clever about how people live—where a dining room should go in relation to a kitchen, and stuff like that. So I kept drawing over his drawings.
The old house had been abandoned for a long time, and it was just very dusty and old—it was a beautiful old house. And the day the demolition happened… there were 4-meter shutters looking out over the old square. They were open, and the dust was everywhere. The sun came in the window and hit the dust, and made a beam of light. I looked at the beam of light, and it just occurred to me that “this is what I want to do, I want to design spaces. I want to create experiences.” So when my husband came home that evening, I said “Daniel, I have decided what I want to do.” That’s how it started.

Now you’re one of the most celebrated interior designers, and possibly the busiest female designer in the world. So I imagine you’re involved in many projects, but what’s holding your focus right now? Can you tell me about them?
Well, there are many of them [laughs]. We’re just finishing the interiors of 1,800 apartments in Jackson Park in Queens, in New York City. We’re working on a very large building in San Francisco, rentals and condos—it’s our sixth project for the same developer. They do very well with our projects, people line up for them. I’m working in Washington, and we’re doing a very big resort in Kaplankaya, Turkey. It’s about 60 acres. We’re working with the landscape, I think it’s 150 hotel rooms, and a massive spa.
Also, we’re developing new licenses. We’ve got a wall covering collection coming out in late fall. We’ve got a faucet collection, which has just come out and we’re developing. We just signed up recently, spring last year, with Restoration Hardware, and we’re continuing with them. I think what makes our design a little different is the amount of research we do. We’ve been researching the healthy brain. There’s an institute for the study of the healthy brain in Wisconsin. I’ve been out there, and listened to the speakers, and actually presented to the Dalai Lama, which was really extraordinary… And we think, “what makes people happy?” That research is what really fuels us. It’s a question I ask people when they’re presenting to me in the studio, “Is that going to make you feel good?”
When I went to Tibet in 2007 I bought myself a great new camera, and started to take photographs myself. I started to sell them about five years ago, so now I’m going to have an exhibition. I’m always exploring something new.

That’s how I’ve always seen you for the past 30 years. Always exploring, always moving forward with things people haven’t seen, something new. But not “trendy new”.

Not trendy, no. With my clients, I don’t let up until I feel that something’s right for the wellness and health and joy of the people who are going to be there. It’s funny, one of my clients emailed me the other day and he wrote “Relentless, Clodagh!” [Laughs.]

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