Tomas Maier

Tomas Maier On Bottega Veneta, Its New Book, and the Supremacy of Craftsmanship

Tomas Maier is a man of few words. Here, Bottega Veneta's creative director shares a few of them...

On starting out...
I was quite young, maybe 15, when I decided to pursue fashion. I applied to study at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and left for Paris as soon as I finished high school.

On meeting Bottega Veneta...
I accepted the position of creative director after I visited Bottega Veneta’s workshop in Vicenza. The talent, techniques, and traditions kept alive by the Bottega Veneta artisans are unmatched. I knew at that moment that Bottega Veneta could be the finest luxury brand in the world. By the time I began in 2001, the brand had lost its way. While its roots were in subtlety and workmanship, by 2000 the clothes were trendy and brash and covered with giant logos. I kept nothing from that era. We went back to the brand’s roots.

On avoiding strong statements each season...
That isn’t my role. Bottega Veneta has an aesthetic philosophy that doesn’t change from one collection to the next. It’s our responsibility to offer products that our customers want and need, and that are designed and crafted to the highest possible standards. Our customers are not looking for Bottega Veneta to reinvent their wardrobe every season.

On what makes Bottega Veneta unique...
Bottega Veneta is a luxury brand defined by refined understatement and artisanal craftsmanship. While there is clearly a Bottega Veneta aesthetic, the brand is designed first and foremost to enhance the personal style of the customer. Where Bottega Veneta is different is in its focus on artisanal craftsmanship, contemporary functionality, and refined, understated design. There is no other brand that focuses as completely on the product.

On his multitudes of inspirations...
I’m inspired by many things—by art, architecture, antiques, music, and of course, the things I have seen in my travels and encountered in my life. In fact, I find fashion a less satisfying source of inspiration. I would rather go to a museum, a gallery show, a concert, or see a film. I am as moved by a Holbein drawing as by a Twombly. I admire masters including Cranach, Durer, Holbein, Zuberan, and Valesquez, as well as contemporary artists such as Ruff, Struth, and Gursky.

On his experience at Hermès and Sonia Rykiel...
I’ve taken something different from each place that I worked. From Sonia Rykiel, I learned the importance of believing in your own vision. From Hermès, I saw the importance of tradition and quality, and learned that luxury products are not only shaped by passion but also by patience. For a young designer, it was an invaluable education. I have enormous respect for tradition but no interest in nostalgia.

On the new Bottega Veneta book from Rizzoli...
I started thinking about the book around the time I marked ten years with Bottega Veneta, in 2011. This sort of milestone moves you to take stock of what you’ve accomplished, and I believe that everyone at Bottega Veneta has a lot to be proud of. Bottega Veneta has grown tremendously since I started at the company. We now have an incredible library of content and images available. For me, it was not an easy task to decide which images to put in the book and which to leave out.

On collaborating with Sam Shahid...
When we began, I told Sam that I wanted to capture the essence of Bottega Veneta in a book. That is, I wanted to offer readers something that was beautifully crafted, thoughtful, personal, and timeless. I also wanted it to be a collaborative effort, representative not just of my ideas but of the talents and perspectives of many people. We worked together as creative collaborators should—sharing ideas, bringing our various strengths to the process, and going back and forth until we hit on a direction that pleased us all. I always enjoy working with people who are the very best at what they do.

On the book's message...
There are two messages I hope readers take away. The first has to do with the essential importance of handcraftsmanship and the need for creative collaboration between artisans and designers to keep craftsmanship alive and relevant, and make products that are truly timeless, yet contemporary. The Veneto region was also an important source of inspiration. The other message I hope readers come away with is a deeper understanding of Bottega Veneta and the values that inform the brand: quality, functionality, timelessness, and of course, craftsmanship. When I started at Bottega Veneta, I revived the brand’s famous line “When your own initials are enough” because I wanted people to look beyond a logo to the product and the individual who owns it. The book makes that case in another, more expansive way.





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Sep 26, 2012 15:15:00

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