Photography BERT SPANGEMACHER
Interview JUSTIN ROSS
Hair and Makeup CAT VON P
A constant innovator with her own highly refined sense of style, noted fashion designer Tina Lutz has been at the very forefront of fashion for the past three decades, not only creating iconic styles for everyone from Issey Miyake to Calvin Klein but also launching her own very successful brand Lutz & Patmos in New York.
Moving back to Germany in 2016, Tina Lutz found new opportunities to carry on her mission of creating timeless designs in a responsible way: reviving traditional handcrafts and giving back to worthy causes at the same time. 4SEE asked Tina to visit our new studio space in Berlin to discuss her new venture in handbags, her ethical design philosophy, and the challenges and rewards of responsibly crafting luxury items.
Tina Lutz’s elegantly classic and minimalist avant-garde mix was at the core of her first brand Lutz & Patmos, which she started in New York in the late nineties along with Marcia Patmos. As the brand cemented her status as a talented designer and fashion maven, Tina decided to use her influence in the design world to spearhead a movement towards honest and ethical fashion that continues today. The first steps toward this goal began at Lutz & Patmos with the inspired idea to look outside the fashion world for design collaborations, including with many of her close friends and idols like Jane Birkin, Sofia Coppola, Kirsten Dunst, Christy Turlington, and many more.
“I collaborated with artists and actors, architects, singers, directors, and even with Desmond Tutu, the archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. It was always people that I really admired, and we would say to them, you can design a sweater, your dream sweater, we make it, and then we pick a charity that those proceeds go to.”
It was an unusual move at the time but it was also an ingenious step that broadened the appeal of the brand while also enabling Tina to give back a portion of the profits from these specially designed garments to respected charities chosen together with the high-profile partners. But this is just one aspect of her holistic view (which she calls her three pillars) on how to encourage integrity in the luxury fashion world through ethical and responsible manufacturing practices.
“My first pillar is to produce responsibly. You know where you produce and how things are made, you know the people behind them and that people are being treated fairly. I like to work with artisans, to support arts and craft, because they are sort of dying away and a lot of people are struggling to keep certain artisanships alive. That is my second pillar, working with artisans. My third pillar is altruism, I feel it is really important to give back. We are so privileged working in the business we are in. It’s important to help people who aren’t as privileged.”
In 2011, Tina Lutz separated from her business partner at Lutz & Patmos and began consulting work for fashion and knitwear companies. This freed up more time for her to spend with her family and to travel back to Germany more regularly to visit with her aging parents. In 2016, with her parent’s health a growing concern, she and her family made the decision to try out living in Germany for a year. One year turned into two and has now become three as she and her husband and their young son find that Berlin is growing on them. Moving back to Germany was a big change for her and her family, but they approached it with enthusiasm and a spirit of adventure:
“My husband and son said to me, let’s do an adventure year in Germany. My son was 9, about to be 10, and we said let’s just stay a year and I can be there for my parents. Berlin was the only city in consideration, we all wanted to be here. That Christmas, our first in Berlin, my husband gave me a leather box, like an old cigar box, and I fell in love with that box. I don’t know exactly how it all came together, but I started looking up the name of the manufacturer. I told him ‘I love what you do, I have so many ideas’, and he asked if I wanted to come to visit. I started making some samples and prototypes and suddenly I had a new company again.”
Tina Lutz is back doing what she loves—designing beautiful things—this time applying her expertise to luxury handbags with a new company under a new name: Lutz Morris. In 2017, Lutz Morris debuted in a world tour with a number of “salons” in various cities in Europe and North America. The reaction to her bag designs, inspired by and developed with the same concept as the cigar box frame, was phenomenal and she started selling the first versions right away. Now, Lutz Morris is officially just a year old but already a success, available online (www.lutzmorris.com) and just finishing up their first season with showrooms in London, Paris, and New York.
Lutz Morris carries on Tina’s missions to design and create, working with local artisans to revive their handcraft work and support communities by sourcing responsibly. Defining responsible and ethical fashion means being heavily involved in the process and keeping everything as local as possible.
“The pebbled leather, which makes up about 80% of the collection is tanned 30 minutes from the factory. The frames are another hour away. And there are some bags that have a beautiful, heavy brass chain, everything hand-soldered, which is made in the black forest. And the packaging is made in the same town where the bags are being made. So, everything is sourced as close as possible and made as responsibly as possible.”
At the end of the day, everyone can feel good about what Tina Lutz is doing as she not only helps revive local economies through her partnerships with artisans but she also gives back a percentage of the profits to a worthy cause, reducing maternal mortality worldwide through the charity efforts at her longtime friend Christy Turlington’s charity Every Mother Counts. Tina Lutz is proving that there is a way to design and create responsibly, and that is truly something beautiful.
Photography BERT SPANGEMACHER
Interview JUSTIN ROSS
Travis Mathews’ Discreet is Difficult, Disturbing, and Necessary
4SEE sits down with the indie filmmaker and director Travis Mathews of acclaimed films such as Interior Leather Bar, which he coproduced with James Franco, to shed light on his process, the difficult job of being a filmmaker, and the politically charged setting that led to his film Discreet.
As one of the progenitors of mumblecore movement in filmmaking, Travis Mathews is adept at putting the audience up close and personal with his actors. And Discreet is no exception, but unlike some of his previous films such as I Want Your Love, which have ventured towards portraying authentic and intimate sides of life that we feel privileged to get access to, Discreet has follows a darker shadowy path. In Discreet Travis generates intimacy, even when it is uncomfortable.
Discreet follows the very personal journey of self-exploration and unfolding (read: unravelling) of a young man, Alex (played by Jonny Mars), who is retracing his steps while trying and often failing to come to terms with his past and facing gargantuan uphill battle to find a place for himself in rural Texas.
The script for Discreet came together as Mathews spent time in rural Texas, unwittingly immersing himself in the political epicenter of a growing populist movement that would variously come to be described as alt-right. The dark and damning effects of this pervasive mentality are manifest not only in the film’s setting in rural Texas, but also through the circuitous and often desperate attempts by its protagonist Alex to come to terms with a deeply embedded sadness and isolation.
It is this anxious mood that permeates the film throughout, a droning, humming soundscape amplifying the whole experience of foreboding, but it is also the tensile strength that drives it along. In an era where we are confronted with an increasingly polarized world, Discreet shows us what it is like when the internal world echoes, mirrors, and multiplies the panic of the world around us.
We caught up with Travis and producer on Discreet and husband João Federici while they were in Berlin to premiere the film. Travis delves behind the concept of Discreet and touches upon its poignant, personal depiction of an uneasy place and point in time in American society.
ALAIN MIKLI A04002N
Q: How has your film been received so far, are you pleased with the audience reaction?
I’m happy with people having what seem to be pretty strong responses one way or another. I don’t think many filmmakers look for a vanilla, middle of the road, tepid kind of response from the work that they do, but I feel like what I’ve done in the past and certainly with this movie are things that generally ask people to either get on that ride or they are not going to get on that ride, there is not really a lot of middle ground. We have been seeing that with the reception [of this film, Discreet]. But a lot of the people that I look to as cinephiles, or publications that I really want them to get it, are getting it. And I feel good about that.
Q: Tell me about how the film came about, what led you down this path?
I was in development and pre-production on another film that was a three-year process after [my last film project] Interior Leather Bar, where I wasn’t getting paid and it was all of this heavy lifting to get the film made – there was all of this grant money and investors and it was kind of being poised around me as the film that was going to be a little bit of a crossover film for me. It was going to attract a larger audience, but there was money involved and bureaucracy involved that slowed it all down and then we were going to shoot it in central Texas. We were a week out from shooting and something happened with the lead actor, and the movie fell apart. And as soon as it fell apart – and I had been in central Texas for a while prepping for this movie and driving around in that van that is in the film, that was the van I drove for pre-production on the other film – I was reminded that part of what I like about being a filmmaker is being able to do things boldly, where things are kind of immediate, and decisions aren’t being made by a committee of ten different people. It is more about me and one person I trust, that kind of thing.
And so I kind of took the temperature of what was going on around me in central Texas and my own personal experiences and what felt like this rumble of palpable anxiety in the air, and this looming fear, dread, violence, of (not to get too deep into the analytical intellectual stuff), but the patriarchy and the generational angst that they are not going to be bearing us fruit in generations to come. This sense of this straight, white, male, conservative rural mentality that was terrified of losing power and in that terrified of being emasculated and having to cede power, share power, lose power. And there was this feeling of a sort of last effort of brute masculine strength, and that these alt-right, fringe people were willing to do anything in order to maintain power. I felt like I was hearing on the talk radio, and just being in rural Texas, it was almost like a Faustian deal that had been made among these conservative white men. They would forego morality and any sense of respect or law, and do the most perverse things, all in the name of maintaining power. They package it differently, but that was the deal they had made.
I wanted to channel that energy, plus the closeted homophobia and racism that I was seeing on all those [dating] apps, and men hiding behind all these sort of black boxes that just said ‘discreet’. I was obsessed with this black box that was a black hole kind of.
I wanted to mix that together and have that channeled through a character that could be a sort of time-stamp on the zeitgeist. And I wanted people to be dropped into his frame, for better or for worse, that involves trauma, and involves memory and it involves some non-linearity and some of the more surreal elements in the film are in an effort to be there with him in that space that he is experiencing of what is harmful and what is a healing tool and what’s a good relationship and what’s a bad relationship. The confusion that he was feeling, I wanted the audience to be also dropped into that space.
And we thought we would be living in a post-Hillary world, like most people [did at the time]. We thought this was going to be a new era of progressivism and a new awakening of an enlightened moment. We thought, when we were in Texas and I was assembling my team, that we were putting a button on this horrible moment that we just narrowly avoided.
The body that is floating away at the end of it. We, all of us within our team, have different ideas about who is literally in that body bag, but I suppose this was sort of a poisoned toxic mix that needed to come to an end and go away and that is how we saw it. An era of this alt-right insanity that was coming to a close and not ascending to greater levels of power.
Q: How do you think that changes your own reading of the film now in this post-election Trump presidency.
What is great about premiering at Berlinale and having a lot of other festivals coming up is that it gives me a megaphone to talk about this and to also talk about the politics of the time that we are living in now and how, whether you are a filmmaker or an artist or you are somebody who just sits at home and watches TV all day, there is something that everyone can do. It is not the time to be silent and it is not the time to isolate. So I keep trying to encourage people to take care of themselves in the process, but to not hide.
Q: What about the virtual relationship with his online companion Mandy from YouTube, it felt like on the one hand this could be an empowering and restorative element in Alex’s life, but as it turns out he takes it too far and it ends up leading to further troubles or bringing up some of his more disturbing characteristics.
T: I’m not normally somebody who does deep dives into YouTube and subcultures there, but when I heard about ASMR…
Q: What is ASMR?
T: You need to know about ASMR! It stands for Audio Sensory Meridian Response, but if you look it up and you look at some of the videos by some of the key people in this community, they are these videos that are not exclusively, but largely made by women, and they never go anywhere inappropriate or sexual, but it always feels a little bit innocent, but also creepy. They have these 3D microphones that they put on either side of the camera like she [Mandy] does in the film, as if they are with you. They whisper and make noises into the microphone and it is meant to put people to sleep as a relaxation tool. A lot of people use them as therapy for PTSD as well. I wanted it to be this marriage of sound and removed intimacy that he stumbled up that felt like one of the first things that actually worked for him and give him some sort of piece through the repetition of sound and how that interacts with trauma and calms him. But he has such fragile defenses and such arrested development issues that his ideas about relationships and his idea of this relationship with her is almost like that of a child in terms of what he thinks is there and what is really there. I wanted her to echo a sort of in the womb voice that he maybe didn’t get.
Q: How was it working with your now husband João on this film? It was exactly four years ago that you met here in Berlin?
T:We met here at Südblock actually. I have a famously bad memory, but I remember well how we met! [laughter]. It was a programmers’ afternoon cocktail reception. Some filmmakers were there, but it was mostly programmers
J: That’s right. I’m the director of MIX Brazil film festival and so I was here as I’ve been doing for about ten years to scout movies to bring to São Paulo for our festival in November. So I was doing my job.
Q: Congratulations! And now you are also working together?
T: Yes, on Discreet he is a producer, and he is an actor (he plays Miguel). In a former life he used to be an actor in Brazil and did some commercials and soap operas there.
J: Actually I graduated in drama, but after some time I started to work more in production. I produced a lot of plays for theatre before and some movies. And also this big festival that is now in its 25th edition this year in São Paulo. We have a lot of common ideas about projects and I really liked Travis’s work before I met him and after I met him even more [chuckles].
Q: I want to get back to the film for a second and I was curious about the choice to outfit the main character Alex with these bright white sunglasses. They seemed to become an integral part of his character and I noticed that he took them with him everywhere he went.
T: The sunglasses were something, and this is one of the reasons that I love filmmaking, they were one of those spontaneous things that you can find, everything from clothing to locations to equipment, that sometimes it is something that you would never have been able to predict. Jonny Mars who plays Alex showed up to one of our pre-production meetings and he had those on and it was such a striking “look at me but don’t look at me” kind of impression that they made because they are white. I liked them on him and so I decided this would be part of his costume or his armor. I also like that they seemed a little bit ’80s and I like that his whole thing is just a whole hodge-podge of things that have been found. I didn’t want him to look ‘hipsterish’ and we were careful of not doing that. So I felt like his armor or his costuming was an assemblage of different things and not a particular design aesthetic.
J: I felt like he could hide some of his feelings behind those glasses.
T: Yes, sure they were to hide behind, but then they are also white which says ‘look at me’.
Discreet premiered at the 67th Berlinale Film Festival in February in Berlin and is currently touring festivals across the world, most recently appearing at the San Francisco Film Festival in April. It will also be featured at MIX in São Paulo later this year.
Photography BERT SPANGEMACHER
Text JUSTIN ROSS
Hair & Makeup GITA KURDPOOR
4SEE features Patrick Mohr, the sometimes controversial, but always authentic, mastermind behind the hottest shoes on the market about his game-changing sneakers, his creative vision, and his favorite glasses.
Patrick Mohr’s sneakers literally sell out worldwide in seconds. Extremely limited editions (the last edition saw only 1000 pairs released worldwide), a strong design concept based on his personal obsession with the equilateral triangle which for him symbolizes freedom, and careful attention to every detail have made his sneakers a hot commodity for street style enthusiasts around the world.
Glasses: L/R ALLIED METAL WORKS A001, M. FUNK Utgard
But all this success seems unlikely to alter Patrick’s singular vision for his products. “I’m not a designer, I’m a visionary” he says, describing the instant sensation his products have become and his multifaceted approach to design and fashion. “I don’t really care what other people are thinking about me if they are saying good things or not, I follow my vision and achieve my goals.”
In fact, Patrick seems almost surprised by his own sudden success and the fact that celebrities and musicians from Chris Brown to The Weekend are proudly sporting his limited edition shoes. “In 2014, in autumn, we had a release at the store in LA and suddenly ‘bang,’ there was a global hype. The sneakers sold out in minutes, and since 2014 there has been a massive hype.” He recognizes that his success came at a particularly fortuitous moment for him. “You have to have a good product, a good team, good connections, but you also have to have good luck. To do something at the right time, at the right moment, and with the right people, its some kind of destiny.”
Glasses: l. ALLIED METAL WORKS A001, m. FUNK FOOD SUN Pincar
LEISURE SOCIETY Nice – Shoes: EXCLUSIVE K1XPM BOOT
Destiny and success didn’t arrive overnight for the Munich native, but rather built over time and as a result of keeping true to this aesthetics and working with the people he naturally forged a connection such as the co-producers of his sneaker collection, the Munich-based company K1X. “Everything that I’m doing is coming from my heart and I don’t do things without heart.”
This heartfelt approach draws people to Patrick’s work just as he is drawn to the work of similarly genuine and authentic brands that emphasize quality over quantity such as his eyewear of choice, Dieter Funk. Besides knowing each other personally from their shared roots in Munich, Patrick maintains his devotion to the brand because of its commitment to producing authentically handmade eyewear in Germany. “I only wear Funk… we are really deeply connected. It started because of [knowing] him, and then I was also at his factory in Kinsau and it is really authentically handmade in Germany, from the raw material to the final product and this is incredible, what he is doing and he is amazing and that’s why I’m wearing his stuff.”
Certainly his genuine nature and his loyalty to his close network of colleagues such as the creative director at Reebok, Swizz Beatz, along with his sought-after sneakers have helped to pave the way for Patrick to emerge as a German designer on the very forefront of fashion and streetwear trends. He now joins the illustrious company of Marc Jacobs, Pharrell Williams, and Jeremy Scott, having been designated as the next designer to be selected by Viacom and Nickelodeon to create a capsule collection with the SpongeBob SquarePants licensed image. This line, hitting a very select few stores in June, will of course also be a seriously limited edition.
Photographer JORGEN AXELVALL
Fashion Editor KEITH S. WASHINGTON
Writer ANNEMARIE LUCK
Remember that time Brad Pitt designed his own furniture range and critics were full of praise for the surprise collection? Well, in Denmark, style icon Emil Thorup has pulled off a similar feat. The Danish public has come to know (and love) him primarily as a model and TV host on the country’s biggest national network, but the 32-year-old has been harbouring a passion for design that he’s finally found expression for in his new furniture brand called HANDVÄRK, which launched in August 2015.
While Thorup admits some people were reluctant to believe he could make a U-turn in his career and just begin designing furniture, he says he has actually been working on the side in design and architecture for several years. From his industry peers he has had nothing but praise, and says this is largely down to the fact that they are all ‘working for the same purpose – to promote Danish design to the rest of the world’.
We caught up with Thorup on his recent visit to Tokyo to chat more about HANDVÄRK, his inspirations and why he’s a huge fan of Japanese eyewear brand Frency & Mercury.
What’s your connection to Tokyo?
I have a great passion for Japan – the people, language, food and architecture. By heart, I’m an architect and residential architecture is amazing in Japan. I’d love for HANDVÄRK to open a flagship store in Tokyo. The style is international with a Danish flavor that – in my humble opinion – would go great with Japanese architecture.
What is it that you love about Japanese design and architecture?
It’s in many ways an organic version of the Bauhaus style, where function dictates form. In the Japanese “version” it’s more about the materials, the user and nature, but still, with excruciating detail, never adding any redundant design feature. Japanese minimalism seems to have some warmth to it – something that we, cold, Nordic minimalists could be inspired by.
Eyewear by Max Pittion Maestro in Black Tortoise
Grey sweater and white oxford with silver plated clip all by John Lawrence Sullivan
But with HANDVÄRK, you’ve said you want to stay true to Nordic DNA…
To me, the Nordic DNA is much more than just the design; it is based on passionate designers and skillful craftsmen. HANDVÄRK is one of the few brands left that produces all our furniture in Denmark. This means I have a day-to-day communication with the people crafting the steel frame to our tables and I probably see my upholsterer more than I see my own family. This gives us all a deep connection to the brand and all the know-how and skill possessed is not lost in translation.
Do you have any plans for a new collection yet?
I’m probably the most impatient designer you’ll ever meet – I’ve had the next two collections ready for several months. For now we have to focus on our first collection, the “Black/Brass”, but we have plans to release “The White Edition” in August 2016, which will feature powder white products with honed crystal white marbles and grey granites.
Eyewear by Max Pittion Shelby in Black Tortoise
Grey pinstriped suit and white oxford with silver plated clip all by John Lawrence Sullivan Leather cuff by John Lawrence Sullivan
You also work on other big design and architecture projects. Are you working on anything interesting at the moment?
I just finished designing a line of luxury pre-fab houses for building giant Kalmar-Huse. But my most interesting project at the moment is creating the HANDVÄRK Apartment. We have gotten our hands on a 300m2 historic apartment overlooking the royal park in Copenhagen – perfectly restored. Here, I’m decorating our showroom, primarily with our own furniture but mixed with the best of Danish and international design – and vintage items from around the world. A perfect place for a press brunch and it’s available to rent for shoots.
Your sense of style clearly crosses over from design to clothing. Do you have a favourite brand of eyewear?
I’m a huge fan of the Japanese brand Frency & Mercury, who make the most stunning eyewear. The brand is in many ways like my own brand – everything is produced locally, they use precious materials, titanium, silver and gold, and maintain a very high level of craftsmanship. And the young owner and designer, Eque, is a flamboyant and extroverted person – much like myself. [Laughs]
Eyewear by Max Pittion Shelby in Blue Tortoise
Black blazer and grey oxford all by John Lawrence Sullivan
Photography: BERT SPANGEMACHER Interview: ANN FORD Glasses: MAKELLOS ME 9004
Ansgar Schmidt was born in Borken, Germany in 1971. He acquired a diploma in architecture in Cologne and he has been running a successful design shop, “s1 Architecture “ in Berlin, for the past 15 years together with his partner Henning Ziepke. His firm’s focus is on retail development and their works include the “14 oz.” stores in Berlin. They have won the Trade Association Germany’s “Store of the Year” HDE Award three times. 4SEE asked Ansgar about what makes good eyewear frames and store designs and his view on trends.
Let’s get started with an obvious question. What do you prefer, glasses or contact lenses?
With glasses you can shape your face. Glasses used to be considered like medicine, but nowadays they are more like a fashion statement to express own personality. Some people prefer wearing contact lenses because they are convenient, but there should be one perfect pair of glasses for each face, assuming they have a good consulting service. In the past few years, eyewear has become more and more important in the fashion world. For example, there is a new eyewear concept store in Berlin that offers only vintage eyewear. When buying furniture, it is important to find out the year it was made, and its origin and designer. Some people like to own an original piece. The same thing applies to glasses.
What do you think makes good eyewear design?
That is a difficult question! There is no such thing as one good eyewear design. There is only a good design that fits best to each individual. But whether glasses are a perfect match depends on what the market offers. That’s why it is important for customers to find a store where she or he can actually find something and try, or just browse.
Do customers still shop in store?
Competition with online stores is constantly growing, but the market protects itself. Glasses must first be tried on your own face. Buying glasses is still something very personal. Again, it is also a matter of what the market offers. If selections are reasonable and have enough appeal to customers, they will come into a store and come back again.
How should a store create an inviting and customer friendly atmosphere?
Clients and their well-being must come at the forefront – corresponding to their respectable environment, or it has to be hip. Optical stores used to look like doctors’ office, so it is relatively easy to find something that makes customers feel good.
But in what setting a client could feel pleasant and comfortable?
There are different types of people. Some feel comfortable in an industrial loft, while others prefer a cozy, warm atmosphere. It depends on the products I present and also on customers I’d like to reach – they could be anyone from young to old people or could be very specific and targeted customers.
Does it make any difference between big and small cities?
Small towns like Bocholt or Münster, or rural areas in Bavaria – they would require three completely different approaches. What is important is to analyze each optical store independently, who their customers are and what they are selling. I don’t want to apply a one-size fit all type of approach. People from rural communities might need more consulting while customers in Berlin have already a clear vision of what they want. In other words, opticians have to adjust a design concept depending on what customers want.
That’s why each optician requires different expertise.
Exactly. Some clients want to know more about products. Some of them are also interested in finding out the heritage of specific frames, who the designers are, or whose design they were influenced by. Or some clients want to buy iconic styles. Confident consumers have a totally different approach to fashion. These types of customers are found in rural areas as well as in cities.
And to what degree can architecture support what customers want?
We can offer optical storeowners a platform that helps them sell their spectacles.
How does that platform look like?
It has to correspond to that person. There is no use in designing a hip store if a storeowner doesn’t feel comfortable in it. For us the priority is to build a good surrounding for him or her in which they can present themselves well, but also show them new possibilities which might not have been clear before.
But how do you create such conditions?
First, our work is always to listen. Then we develop proposals reflecting the wishes of our client, the storeowner. The choice of floor, color and material manifests itself from there.
And that’s how a good store design emerges?
Yes, depending on the owner, their clientele and location. In some occasions, it could be useful to showcase certain glasses at the storefront. In back there could be space for fitting – preferably in a pleasant atmosphere. Knowledge about the design and the heritage of spectacles is also part of it. In another location I might need a straightforward design that addresses confident and informed consumers. But most importantly, a blueprint for stores does not exist. The focal point is always service.
According to you, what is trend?
A long-term trend: the store needs its own personality. Customers should feel right when they enter the store. Another trend is the usage of materials; the authenticity and the feel of the materials. This is totally the in thing right now: conscious usage of material and style, tradition in craftsmanship. And if it’s vintage, it has to be real, it can’t be fake vintage.
How about 10 years from now? Do you think retail stores will continue to exist?
I am firmly convinced that they will, because by now online platforms are already looking for physical stores to sell their products. This way dotcom companies can go local. In the long run there is going to be a mix of both. If I have to wear my glasses on a daily bases – for work and pleasure, then I need more than just a cheap pair of glasses I can find on the Internet. So then I need to go into a store and because of this, the concept of partnership has a future.