12 Oct 10 Questions: Ralph Vaessen
What a five keywords to emotionally describe your eyewear?
In one word: „SEX“ or „EPIC“ or if your prefer 5 words „the most beautiful collection ever“ or „sooooo F#####G F#####G F#####G wanted“. Less emotionally, more down to earth hahah and more descriptive: extravagant but yet sophisticated, premium, niche and natural with beautiful colors. Handcrafted by masters and ultra sharp in fitting.
What would you be doing if it not for eyewear design?
What I would be doing or what I would prefer to do? I worked to the Dutch government for over 15 years as legal advisor, manager and proces designer, so if I would not have started my eyewear label I would have continued my career at the government. Luckely for me I didn’t and changed to start my label. And luckely for you all as well … that I contribute to the eyewear business with the finest collection in the world ever, and by far. As inspiration and reference for other designers and labels. Just joking and to go back to the question. I have a passion for image, so I would prefer to be a photographer or filmmaker or both.
Where do you take your overall inspiration?
London, New York or simular cities. What is going on in the „underground/alternative“ art and music scene. There where all new trends starts.
What were some of the most important milestones after founding the company?
What and when? In 2008 and 2009, so 2-3 years after I started, many puzzle pieces fellt in place. For the first time I had a balanced collection and outstanding campaigns. Celebrities like Kate Moss, Rihanna and also David Lynch and John Malkovich started to wear my eyewear and sunglasses. Reference stores like Colette and L’Eclaireur started to carry my brand and in 2009 I was nominated for the Silmo d’Or, for the Spyker style, designed for the Dutch sportscar manufacturer. Then in 2011 I redesigned my website and it was nominated by the most leading and influential webdesign websites where it was even voted as No. 5 best website world wide in 2011. And for this year; IVKO/Hoffmann is nowadays besides being my atelier also my distributor. David Lynch is the face of my ss 2014 campaign and fashion icons like Vivienne Westwood, Sir Paul Smith, Christian Louboutin and Tommy Hilfiger are wearing my eyewear and sunglasses as well.
How many pieces of eyewear have you created so far?
I have no idea. For my own label? About 80 maybe.
Whats the main attraction of eyewear design to you?
To design a style that is „hot“ next season. To launched it exact in time.
Whats the hardest part about designing eyewear.
Hardest part? Sometimes I’m jealous of other designs and would love it to be mine. I don’t say these are better, but close and close enough to be jealous about hahah and to love it as a ‘would have’ in my collection.
Where do you get the inspiration for your creative design work?
“Sex, drugs and rock&roll“ But serious, yes from music. Listen to music and forcing myself to emptying my head with business and daily routine. A good glass of wine, my drug, can help, but it’s not necessary. It is also called „window starring“. But the best ideas appear unexpectedly and by some strange and new connections inside my head. „Gestalt theory“.
Which eyewear designer has made a lasting impact on you?
Again: I have no idea. Not to be arrogant but non. I don’t consider myself as a designer but as a creative director and label entrepreneur. And I do not have a background in eyewear. Of course I admire some other brands, but that goes further then just the design of the eyewear. It is also about how they brand their label. The complete picture of a brand, their overall „look&feel“.
What separates Ralph Vaessen from other eyewear manufactures?
Besides me? Haha … but serious, oh it was serious but besides that? Hahah That I use this natural, but most of all this outstanding beautiful material with deep intense colors for strong extravagant fashionable designs instead of the rather conservative styles that other brands use it for. And besides that horn is the most beautiful material for eyewear it’s definitive the most comfortable material to wear in eyewear. And my frames are handcrafted by masters at the atelier that is the authority in horn eyewear. So in essence: it’s the combination of the beautiful material, the handcraftship by master and the extravagant styles. This combination is too crazy for most and indeed centainly not strictly commercial. But thats at the other hand also my strenght, I’m the only one (who is this crazy) and therefore I have a unique collection/label. And I prefer to stay this niche label and having the most beautiful eyewear collection ever, if I may believe all the compliments I always get. Unfortunately it is priceless. But as the commercial of a certain credit card provider says: therefore it is „priceless“.