COPENHAGEN MEETS NEW YORK
Welcome behind the scenes of Numbers – a limited edition capsule collection designed in a year-long collaboration with New York-based Poulsen Projects. Numbers is a synthesis of time and language, numbers and letters. In this creative collaboration our celebration of time is synchronized with Poulsen Projects' iconic textuality.
MADS JAKOB POULSEN - THE BRAIN BEHIND POULSEN PROJECTS
Let us introduce you to Mads Jakob Poulsen and the collaborative effort that led to the Numbers collection. Poulsen Projects is founded by Danish designer Mads Jakob Poulsen who lives in New York. His Danish heritage makes him fluent in the language of design and his iconic work often tends to be very engaging.
Mads’s talent and achievements involve work on a blue circle that leaves space for a new illustrated logo every day for USA Today, a giant feather that went to space and back for Blue Origin, and a dynamic flag that waves on your screen for Al Gore's Current TV channel. His client range is spectacular, and one could even say very global – from Danish Design Center and Copenhagen Pride, to Microsoft, Asian Art Museum, Brooklyn Museum, NBC Universal and many others.
Mads Jakob Poulsen has received numerous international awards and has spread his knowledge and the insights of the design universe by giving lectures at events and educational institutions in Denmark, Canada and the US. About Numbers Mads admits “I wanted to create a playful yet iconic watch face that looks familiar and new at the same time, making you take an extra glance at this everyday object”.
Here you have the unique opportunity to get more insights about Mads, Poulsen Projects and our collaboration – read the interview below.
How would you describe yourself?
- Danish designer working in New York.
What brought you into the design universe?
- I was always attracted to visual and graphic things. From an early age I was into album cover art, graffiti and music videos.
How was Poulsen Projects founded?
- For many years I worked at large design and branding studios in New York, and I wanted to do things my own way, and establish more personal connections with the clients I worked with. Plus, I wanted to create more at the intersection of graphic design and product design.
DESIGN & WORK & INSPIRATION
How would you define “design”?
- Everything that has a purpose is designed, or at least it should be. I can be designed poorly, or it can be designed very well. I prefer the latter.
How would you characterize good/successful design?
- Good design solves a problem, makes you feel like that’s the best possible way it could be designed. And depending on what it is, it’s a plus if it is also visually appealing.
Describe your creative process. What steps do you take when you are working with a project?
- First I explore, meaning looking in many different directions trying to cover ground that might be right, or wrong and once I find the right area or direction I narrow things down, strip away, until I am at the core of the idea I am trying to convey.
What kind of questions do you ask yourself before beginning a design project?
- “All kinds.”
What piece of information is of utmost value?
- Everything or anything can be what leads you to that special little nugget or insight that solves the problem, so you have to ask a lot of questions, and most of them won’t help, but one of them will, you just don’t know which one until you get the answers.
How do you approach a new project?
- I love starting new projects, there is nothing more inspiring, and terrifying than a blank piece of paper. You start from there, and then you just have to fill it up, with ideas, words, thoughts, sketches, questions. Often, I have a phrase or a feeling I want to achieve, I don’t know what the solution is, but I know how I want the final result to make you think or feel.
How do you stay organized when provided with multiple design assets, files and ideas?
- Folders, bookmarks, lots of folders and bookmarks.
How do you incorporate feedback into your design work?
- I don’t. Just kidding, often the hard asks from a client is what makes a project interesting, how do we communicate these three completely different things in just one design? It’s harder, but also very satisfying when you achieve that.
Any tips for problem/conflict solving situations (when something unexpected happens, change of plans, etc.)?
- See how you can flip it to be a positive.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE & INSIGHTS
How do you get unstuck (creatively) when you are struggling for ideas?
- Do something new, go to a record store and look at album covers, look at art, watch a movie.
What is your favorite project you have ever done, and why?
- Of older projects I love the work I did for Current TV (Al Gore’s Youtube-like TV network) with Wolff Olins. It was an inspiring client and my favorite visual identity I have worked on. Of more recent projects this watch collaboration is right up there. It was a great collaboration, with all of us coming together and being open to try something new, make something cool, and I personally can’t wait to wear these watches.
How much do you rely on inspiration and how much on data?
- It depends a bit on the project, you need to have your facts right, so if that is data, then 30% data, and 70% inspiration, and even more so intuition.
Who and/or what inspires you?
- Everything visual, art, cities, people, utilitarian designs, tools, etc. Especially things that stand out, by being familiar, and just a bit strange at the same time.
What qualities do you look for in a collaboration?
- I look for openness, and willingness to dare, to risk to do something different together, why else do a collaboration?
How do you keep yourself updated with the latest design trends?
- First off, I live in New York, and you would have to walk around with your eyes closed to not pick up new things, and not be inspired, after that I get inspired by blogs online and on Instagram. I prefer real life stuff though, like art shows, movies, concerts, looking at what people are wearing, what is on their t-shirts, what is on the album covers? Very much the same things that inspired me when I was a kid.
How do you see the world of design in a near future or, like, 50 years from now?
- That is a good question. We have gone through a period where everything has become very minimal, I think that will go on for a while and then I think we might return to more rich designs with more detail, maybe things will start looking more natural as the world hopefully goes greener sooner than later.
COLLABORATION WITH LARSEN & ERIKSEN ON NUMBERS
How did the cooperation with LARSEN & ERIKSEN emerge?
- We started talking about our common passion for watch design and Magnus and Jeppe asked me how I would design a watch if I were to do one. That lead to us exploring how a combination of my watch and the classic LARSEN & ERIKSEN watch could look. We explored many concepts, some very minimal, some super fun and extreme, and then we landed on Numbers.
What is the concept and inspiration behind Numbers?
- When looking at the LARSEN & ERIKSEN watches you see the Art Deco style, the classic linework and also the lack of numbers. So the concept came up almost as a challenge - how can we add numbers to the watches in an interesting and meaningful way?
Generally, numbers or letters?
- To me they are all the same as they are based on my love for typography. As long as it is not Roman numerals, I definitely prefer Arabic numerals and modern clean typography.
If you had to, how would you describe Numbers in 3 words?
- Playful, bold and iconic.
3 MODELS. 3 INTERPRETATIONS OF TIME.
ONLY 123 WATCHES PRODUCED OF EACH MODEL, ALL INDIVIDUALLY NUMBERED.
The Numbers collection has the subtle silhouette of our well-established watch body paired with Poulsen Projects’s distinct and descriptive watch face. Minimalist Danish design and Swiss parts movement remain as our ultimate building blocks. Numbers has 3 designs, each uniquely observing and then bridging the juncture between time and language.
We realize that time is a relative concept. Let us imagine a little scene – 5 minutes in two contrary situations differ a lot. For instance, 5 minutes when you are trying to catch a flight before the gate is closed will run as fast as never before. On the other hand, when you are waiting to see your loved ones after a very long time being apart, they will seem the 5 longest minutes of your life. Generally, people these days are busy and overwhelmed of how the time flies. However, no matter the circumstances, having an exquisite and exceptional watch to update you on the precise hours and minutes can soothe you and keep you calm.
Bring out the best values of your watch – not only reliable functionality and classic minimalist design, but also a surprising element which makes you and your watch stand out.
Number 1. The watch celebrates every hour by having their full name represent each of the indices. Even though letters might take more space than numbers, they are created in a perfect size and font, thus keeping our value of minimalist design - in the spotlight. When viewed from a distance, the words turn into hour markers. We invite you to celebrate the beautiful friendship of numbers and letters and give a special honor to each and every hour on the watch.
Number 2. Yes, we do believe that beauty lies in simplicity. What we also believe is that traditional forms and concepts of watches should leave a little space for new thinking. So, instead of having the ordinary 12, 3, 6 and 9 on the dial, the Number 2 watch literally brings back the overlooked times to our attention. Let’s not divide our day into quarters of an hour, let’s embrace the diversity of our long-established perception of time. The unrecalled numbers are vivid and bold. Simultaneously, they preserve aesthetics in a tasteful manner.
Number 3. Even though the hero hours of 12, 3, 6 and 9 have had their prominence, we are used to perceive them in a numeral language. The Number 3 watch offers the hero hours textual coherence and breathing space; encouraging a daily practice of pause. If you prefer the classical layout of a watch but feel the need for some authentic and extraordinary adjustments – this watch is made for you. Letters deserve to adorn the watch big time.
By playing with the representation of time, this collaborative collection adds a twist to the familiarity of the iconic watch face.