A Conversation With Mirko Bressan
A Conversation With Mirko Bressan
Ever wonder who creates the most coveted luxury goods, and what inspired those designs? We have, which is why we sat down with Mirko Bressan. Based in London and hailing from Italy, Mirko is responsible for creating fine jewelry and watches for some of the world’s most prestigious brands. In his current role as an exclusive consultant for LVMH, Mirko worked with Master & Dynamic to co-design Louis Vuitton’s Horizon Earphones, LV’s first venture into the audio market.
Growing up, you were surrounded by family members involved in traditional watchmaking and the jewelry industry. How did this impact your career in luxury jewelry and watch design?
I grew up shaping objects by hand. Having the ability to create something with your hands is so important. I’m only 43, but I already consider myself as belonging to an older generation of designers. At first I learnt about analogue and traditional watchmaking, before becoming more heavily involved in digital. I was never afraid to get my hands dirty – so often people underestimate our most powerful tool!
I design objects that live on the human body. So the first rule is respecting ergonomics, which is something you can only learn through years of practice. It involves constantly changing shapes and angles to craft something that sits flush and remains comfortable. When we speak about watchmaking and jewelry, even today, things are still firmly rooted in craftsmanship and practices native to analogue. That’s why even when designing with CAD software or producing 3D renders I still imagine every single process in the traditional way to ensure it will all make sense. For me, good design today is about striking a balance between the analogue and digital cultures. Combining both makes you a solid designer and not just a dreamer.
Describe your role as an exclusive consultant for LVMH. What does the ideation and design process typically involve?
The most important thing is to develop an understanding of the history of each individual brand. Louis Vuitton has a very old, established design language full of code and meaning. Imagine the flower pattern – even moving one petal or changing the interscale of the flower itself can distort the identity of the product and ultimately the brand. This is why studying the history of LV was so important, even before putting pencil to paper. I’ve been working with them for five years now, and it definitely took at least a year to adjust to master all the code and design language innate to the maison.
In terms of design, it’s always best to mix the brand’s old design code or language with innovation. That’s when something truly unique and quite interesting happens. In terms of process, my team is based in London (away from the big LVMH headquarters in Paris), where we can absorb the best of groundbreaking innovation, especially in terms of fashion and design. We alternate moments of locked-down, pure exploration in our studio and other moments where we work as one with the LV team. In Paris we have the LV Lab with the digital experts who follow the entire process from inception to production, and in Geneva at the LV “La Fabrique du Temps” we focus on traditional watchmaking techniques and craftsmanship, working alongside the best watchmakers.
What ultimately inspired your designs for the Louis Vuitton Horizon collection and what were some challenges of shifting from analog to digital watch design?
At some point I was asked to restyle an icon: the LV Tambour watch designed back in 2002. Of course it can be scary to approach the reshaping of an icon and sometimes this proves difficult to execute, especially when keeping the integrity of the design language intact. Having said that, what came out of this process was the Tambour Moon case used widely today in both the digital and mechanical lines, all the way up to the high-watchmaking collection.
With the Horizon Earphones I wanted the charging case to come from a recognisable shape so, as we did on the watch, we took a convex, polished shape that we flipped and doubled creating a concave new volume.
For the digital watch-face we followed another rule: We wanted to avoid replicating or mimicking a mechanical watch. At the time of the first Horizon’s launch, several smart watches were being released on the market, and designs would generally replicate analogue dials, and sometimes complicated timepieces. Instead we created something intuitive to the modern traveler. Our watch is a compass to modern life, and allows for various degrees of customization. The result ultimately pays respect to Louis Vuitton’s heritage and brand DNA, all while embracing innovation and technology.
How does sound affect or influence your work and creative process?
My career started out in a very traditional setting, working for the jewelry brand Pomellato. The previous generation of designers were convinced that silence was the ultimate requirement for inspiration. Of course I started to wear headphones and collected earphones in an effort to seek out quality and ultimately allow my mind to be inspired. Wearing earphones does of course limit our interactions within the studio, so instead we constantly have our concrete MA770 Wireless Speaker playing loud music.
What excites you about the future of technology and the impact it could have on your designs?
You have to look to the past to predict what will happen in the future. Only 10 years ago we lived in a totally different tech environment from today, so I take notes and mark milestones because if we keep up this pace, then the best opportunities are yet to come.
I am conscious to adapt and evolve, being ever-curious and always switched-on. Sometimes I disconnect completely to focus on adding a craftsmanship touch to my modern design recipe. For me that’s key to remaining in top form as a designer.