Swedish industrial designer Thomas Meyerhoffer feels equally at home surfing waves in the Pacific Ocean and walking boutique-lined streets in Paris. Whether he’s designing ground-breaking computers or cell phones — he worked at Porsche, Ideo and Apple before starting his own firm — or creating new windsurf sails for NeilPryde and his own line of surfboards, Meyerhoffer is always looking for ways to innovate and entice consumers. Among his latest products are the Wikireader, a palm-size electronic encyclopedia, and a surfboard collaboration with Cynthia Rowley and Roxy that sells in Barneys New York and Collette in Paris. The San Francisco-based designer also is working on a soft sporting goods collaboration that is still under wraps.
WWD: What were your early style influences? Thomas Meyerhoffer: Growing up in Scandinavia, it was the Swedish design movement and the open landscape. When I came to California to attend Art Center College of Design, I realized there was a strong connection aesthetically. It was a great mix of Arts and Crafts, modern design and science. Now, I am really interested in how nature designs things that appeal to our eyes and our minds. I love reading National Geographic.
WWD: What is your typical day like? T.M.: Normally, the tide guides my work. I surf at the best time of the day and work around that. When I design, I shut down my Internet and e-mail so that I can work uninterrupted for three or four hours at a time.
WWD: When you worked at Apple in the Nineties, what inspired your design for the eMate, which became a precursor to the iMac? T.M.: When Steve Jobs came back to the company, it was like the floodgates opened. We discussed how a computer could be something other than a beige box, so we created different stories around it and the user. One of the tools was to use color and translucency to show that we stood for a whole different message and brand experience. It’s funny how outdated the iMac looks now.
WWD: How does fashion influence what you do? T.M.: Fashion has always inspired me because it’s a great commentary on our society. I’m always interested in how you take stories from fashion and bring them back into the product. I designed the Chumby, a soft beanbag-like computer, just like a sneaker. The back part of it was actually made in a sneaker factory. Our target audience was teenagers using it in their bedrooms. Applying this knowledge about fashion, we were able to make something entirely new that we enjoy in a different way. That’s really what I am interested in doing.
WWD: But ultimately you would choose functionality over form? T.M.: Yes, because it’s functionality that changes a person’s interaction with a product. That’s the basis of the surfboard I designed. I wanted it to turn like a short board and paddle like a long board. Once I started to change the form and shape of the board, I applied design values on top of that. A lot of the greatest fashion has a function, too. Think about a Dior dress whose purpose was to show off the shoulder. It’s telling a story to the end user from a visual point of view, but it’s doing something new.
WWD: Do you think the Internet will render the printed page obsolete? T.M.: It will change in that a lot of things will become more similar. Just like music, where it’s not about the whole record anymore, but about each song. Newspapers will become all about headlines and video and that will make mainstream media more homogenous. It’s not the death of print, but we have to go through that shift before print can experience a renaissance. Then I think people will want to see high-quality print because it will represent a bigger contrast to quick media and blogs.
WWD: How do you force yourself to always look forward instead of back? T.M.: It’s important to keep training your intuition by putting yourself in situations where you aren’t entirely comfortable, where you don’t know what might happen.
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@Pharrell and his wife Helen Lasichanh were among the stars that came out to celebrate @rimowa’s first pop-up concept shop. The space, which is located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, draws inspiration from airport luggage carousels and lounge areas – and features the company’s luggage and accessories. If the pop-up is successful it could pave the way for addition temporary shops throughout the world. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA)
@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
This Just In: Industry sources have told WWD that Anastasia Soare is rumored to be considering selling her beauty business, @anastasiabeverlyhills. According to those sources, Soare has tapped investment bank Imperial Capital to explore sale options for her eponymous beauty brand –– and with at least $340 million in net sales, this would be a big deal. Put in context of other recent transactions for makeup companies, Soare’s price tag could be in the billions if she were to sell the whole thing. #wwdnews #wwdbeauty (📷: @clint_spaulding)
@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)