SILHOUETTE SPECIAL EDITION SUN // 20 YEARS TITAN MINIMAL ART
Since 1999, SILHOUETTE has been raising the bar in terms of lightness and comfort with its Titan Minimal Art Collection. The rimless frames without hinges are the core offering of the quality eyewear manufacturer based in Linz, Austria. Weighing a mere 1.8 grams, the TMA models have already attracted the attention of NASA, who outfitted their astronauts with the minimalist frames on several space missions. Throughout the TMA collection’s 20-year history, SILHOUETTE has constantly advanced the status quo: Updates include new technical features and finishes, as well as collaborations with fashion designers such as Wes Gordon, Arthur Arbesser and Perret Schaad on limited editions in their own unique signature styles. Speaking of styles, for the past seven years, the design department has been guided by Roland Keplinger, Head of Design. To celebrate the brand’s 20th anniversary, Roland walked us through the TMA Special Edition Sun featuring four highly expressive micro shapes.
Hello Roland, please provide a bit of background on your career so far.
I’m a trained product designer and before joining SILHOUETTE, I spend ten years working at an agency where I developed and designed products all across the consumer goods segment.
For the past seven years you have focused exclusively on eyewear for SILHOUETTE, on of the largest independent eyewear labels. What defines this brand?
SILHOUETTE represents minimalism, perfect comfort, quality and Austrian craftsmanship.
How important is the label ‘Made in Austria’ to you?
We are proud to range among the few manufacturers who produce entirely in Europe. Our production site is in a water protection area, which comes with strict guidelines. For SILHOUETTE, sustainability and environmental consciousness are no empty marketing promises, but a tradition put into action for decades now.
Are you able to converge all business areas in one location?
Yes, we handle our entire development and manufacturing at one site. Prototype creation, R&D and construction are right next door to the design department. It’s all tightly connected.
What are your general priorities in terms of design?
In our reduced design language, the tangible element is important, the haptics. Lines that flow, no hard edges. I like to call it ‘sensual simplicity’ – exemplified in our Titan Minimal Art family.
It’s been 20 years since you launched the collection. What was the impetus?
My colleague Gerhard Fuchs, the creator of Titan Minimal Art (TMA), was simply looking to reduce eyewear frames to the bare fundamentals. Nothing more, nothing less. The first attempts were still based on steel, but the concept really came full circle with titanium. It also perfectly fit the zeitgeist at the time.
Reductionism and minimalism applied in this way to an eyewear frame was quite revolutionary back then. One of our mantras in day-to-day operations remains, ‘Nothing feels like a SILHOUETTE.’
And has this approach changed at all for the latest collection?
Yes, the TMA collection set out to question everything. Does a frame require hinges? Do lenses have to be fitted with screws? Are there ways to re-think eyewear?
What are the answers you arrived at?
The collection is characterized by absolute reductionism. Form follows function. Embossing the titanium wire creates the flex zone with the characteristically fluent outlines. The original TMA still remains the lightest frame and with less weight comes more comfort. By opting for a rimless frame, we unlocked countless varieties of lens shapes that can be adapted to the individual wearer.
How important is this reduction of weight to you?
For SILHOUETTE, everything revolves around feeling. How do the edges and transitions feel, how does the frame fit? Lightness is essentially the fundamental element behind every SILHOUETTE frame. Which is also the reason for the constant advancements in our second material, the high-tech polymer SPX. Characteristics applying to TMA also figure in our other collections.
The hinge-less concept is rather unique, but it also prevents folding the glasses. Is that a problem?
No, absolutely not. The TMA is primarily aimed at 24/7 wearers. They put it on in the morning and wear it into the evening, without having to think about it in the meantime. It’s perfectly suited for that. We are currently working on a special case to make stowing and retrieving the glasses even more intuitive.
The name of the collection clearly reflects the use of titanium in the frames. What is special about this raw material?
In our TMA family, we implement a special beta titanium alloy, which is custom-tailored for specific frames. This helps us ensure the right ratio between flexibility and stability. In our temples, we allow maximum tolerances around 0.02 mm in thickness for an equally distributed flex!
You like to refer to ‘high-tech titanium’ in this context. What’s the story?
Exactly this special know-how around the right alloy and titanium processing. It extends from raw material to reduction parts all the way to embossing and surface finishes. Our quality control process can be rather nit-picky.
What kind of customer type is the TMA collection designed for?
At this point, TMA has been around for 20 years and is considered a design classic. I think that the TMA is timeless and can cater to a variety of target groups via specific lens shapes. It looks great oversized with a slight tint on young wearers! Delicateness and minimalism are also trending again.
How important is the TMA collection for SILHOUETTE overall?
The Titan Minimal Art is not only the core offering for SILHOUETTE in terms of design, but with over 12 million pieces sold it also creates a nice share of our sales.
For the 20th anniversary, you’re launching the limited Special Edition Sun. How many models are part of the collection?
The Special Edition consists of four models and will only be available for a limited time.
What were the main inspirations for designing the four new models?
For the design, we were inspired by old design sketches for the original TMA. In the late 1990s, early 2000s, the TMA line already featured relatively small lenses. We picked up this idea and took it into the here-and-now, only sharper, more extreme and geometrical.
In how far?
We are focusing on basic geometric shapes. Circle, square, hexagon, plus a tiny cat eye. In the hexagon in particular and the round shape, we minimized overall size by the tiny wings. This results in very expressive micro shapes. Except for the cat eye, these models are all rather unisex compatible.
What kinds of lenses are you implementing?
The color palette is rather classic, all models are only released in gold and silver reflection. The lenses remain pure titanium. This emphasizes the graphic effect and refers to our anniversary.
Can we look forward to more special editions throughout the year of your anniversary?
The micro shape collection is our kick-off to the 20-years of TMA celebration. Over the course of the year we’ll be launching more special collections in order to celebrate and showcase the diversity of the TMA.
How exciting. Thanks for the interview, Roland.
Find out More here.