Damir Doma and Berlin’s most collaborative specs makers, Mykita, will launch their first joint line DD01 next week. DD02 and 03 are sure to follow, as Damir Doma’s recent runway show in Paris revealed. Sleek met up with Doma and Mykita’s CEO and Creative Director Moritz Krüger, to find out more about the origins of the ultimate circular horn specs.
Sleek: How did the collaboration come about?
Damir Doma: I really wanted to design sunglasses and was looking for a partner. I didn’t have to look very far though as it quickly became clear that Mykita would be the best partner for me. I think they’re one of the only truly innovative brands out there that really offer high quality products.
Moritz Krüger: We both had to learn something from the other person. Damir flew over from Paris to see our production place in Berlin, the technology we’re using and how we work. Then he showed us his look-books so we would get an idea of his vision and way of working. It was a long process – we started three years ago! That’s how long it took us to be able to present our first sunglasses and specs collection now.
Sleek: What’s special about the frames, why did it take three years to finalize the product?
Damir: It’s a totally innovative product; we really created something that wasn’t there before. That’s what we were shooting for from the start. That’s how I work when I create my collections, too.
Moritz: Another fundamental aspect was that we wanted to work with our own resources and stay independent. That’s the only way to develop further as a brand. Over 90 per cent of frames available today are replicas of existing models. If you make a conventional model that’s also good and popular, you’ll end up with countless copies in no time – faster than you can produce yourself, in fact. I think we’re one of the only spectacles and sunglasses brands that have never been copied.
Sleek: You decided to make a round frame – what does the shape express for you?
Damir: It’s a wonderfully timeless shape. At the same time it’s also reminiscent of Fifties and Sixties intellectuals and existentialists. But above all it’s a perfect shape. We also wanted a very precise roundness for our very first collaboration, which had to be a statement piece.
Moritz: Damir made it clear he wanted a round frame, so the shape was never an issue. The materials however were a different story. It’s very difficult to mix steel and horn. We always try to find a technical solution in our production that would also bring aesthetically pleasing results. The challenge here was to use horn, not as an application but as an integral, functional part of the design. We’re never worked with horn before, so quite a lot of research and development went into making this product.
Damir: I think this actually gives the product its identity.
Sleek: Why did you choose horn? Were you looking for a challenge?
Damir: First I had to identify the material that fit me. It was clear that it had to be a natural material. Luckily, Moritz was open to working with a material that Mykita has had no experience with. That’s quite a risk to take… So we decided on horn.
Moritz: Historically speaking, horn has been used in specs because it’s natural, meaning, more suitable for contact with the skin than other materials.
Damir: That was the argument that sealed the deal for me.
Moritz: Usually, natural materials are only used in frames as an application on to the contact points with the skin. And then it’s usually done in an all but subtle manner. That’s the opposite of everything we wanted.
Damir: I love well-designed products. Quality is also extremely important nowadays, because the customer wants to know what they’re spending money on, why an item costs a certain amount. The products we make are quite expensive, these frames too, but I think it’s conveyable, as long as the customer understand why. A lot of stuff today is just expensive, and the quality is shit.
Sleek: Moritz, you’ve collaborated with many designers by now. What are your criteria for selecting people to collaborate with?
Moritz: The personal level is the most important thing. You have to like each other and enjoy working together. And then both sides have to want to create something completely new that expresses the visions of both. So you go on a journey together, and sometimes it works out and you end up with a great product, but there are also times where it doesn’t.
Damir: Well, it took us three years; I must admit there were moments I thought it wasn’t going to happen.
Sleek: Is this considered an unusually long time?
Moritz: Considering that we’ve had to develop an entirely new technology to make them, it’s actually a fairly normal amount of time. I wonder if we would have come up with the same quality of product had it not taken so long. Each side learned a lot from the other, and the most interesting thing is to approach a product that we’ve been making for year – frames and sunglasses – from a whole new perspective.
Sleek: Are there any other Mykita + Damir Doma collections in the pipeline?
Moritz: We’re very traditional. We like to create something that continues to develop over time.
Damir: That’s the idea. And that’s why it was actually ok to take all this time – this first collaboration opened up a lot of further possibilities for more.
Interview by Lorena Maza
Portrait by Jason Fosco