Today, BRENMI had the chance to speak with Charles Darius, the founder and creative director of Charles Darius, an accessories brand that builds itself on the foundation of creativity and imagination. It wasn’t until Charles began talking about his vision and thought process, that BRENMI truly understood how unique and different Charles Darius was to a regular accessories brand.
1. Can you tell us a bit more about your brand, what is Charles Darius’ story and meaning? How did Charles Darius start, and how is your brand different?
Charles Darius™ started as a personal art project focusing on the interpretation and craftsmanship of tangible accessories. Charles Darius™ accessories are always approached as “functional art pieces”, where we bring the same sensibility to the design & craftsmanship. Each piece is made by some of the most talented artisans in the world. While we are trying to be profitable, this brand is not about margins; it is a passion for design thinking, product quality and brand legacy.
Charles Darius™ is also unique in its services. Within the brand, we created a new department titled “Un Entretien Bespoke” which is translated to “By a Bespoke Interview”. In other words, “Un Entretien” offers you to collaborate intimately with Charles Darius™ creative team to design, engineer and craft any product you would like, from a pair of shoes, a time-piece, to your private jet.
2. You talk about this new department “Un Entretien Bespoke” and the collaboration that goes behind a design. On your most complex or difficult designs, how many people would be involved with the accessory, and what would some of their functions/tasks be?
On a design standpoint we usually do not need to have too many people working on them. For more complex designs we could have 2-3 designers working on complementary tasks. I usually work on the concept, which means conceptualizing and developing the function [if any] of the artifact. A second designer focuses on the technical development, which involves translating the concept into the technical assets required to prototype and manufacture the artifact. Beyond the designers, we involve our engineers, artisans, and factories to ensure the concept is realized into a tangible product.
3. That is very interesting, can you describe your creative process?
It starts with what we call in French “la pensée magique” (i.e. the magical thought). The goal is to imagine, if not idealize the magical representation of a disruptive behavior without worrying about the process. If you focus right away on the “how”, you solve the problem as an engineer, and limit your ability to develop original emotional responses (i.e. creativity). It comes down to observing and questioning every aspect of our lives, never being satisfied, and learning something new everyday. Inspiration is not something you can plan; it comes from everyday experiences, figuring things out, being uncomfortable, etc.… it is a combination of life, critical thinking and art.
4. The “magical thought” concept sounds very interesting, of course I can imagine even for the readers, it’s hard to picture in our heads. Can you give an example of “la pensée magique” from start to finish, either from a previous work, or something fictional?
To illustrate this notion I will use an “extreme” example, it’s a project I developed in 2010. The project is called METIS; the original statement was, how to enhance the human condition through transhumanism philosophies and anthropotechnic sciences. The purpose of the project was the design of a bionic prosthesis (i.e. a bionic arm connected to the brain) allowing a person to recover the mobility of a natural arm.
To start, I wanted to understand the paradigm of prosthesis and interviewed individuals who had lost their limb. Through my analysis, I determined that prosthetics were unappealing and created a stigma of “being disabled”. For most people, they preferred not wearing a prosthetic limb due to this notion.
Therefore, I set two main objectives for this project, which was to shift the perceived value of prosthetics, and to create a prosthetic with more utility than the natural limb. Once I had established these guidelines, I went through a complete analysis of the relevant fields, ranging from transhumanism philosophies, to ethics, to NBIC (nanotechnology, biology, information technology, and cognitive science). The result of the research and study was a prosthetic limb that increased the range of motion naturally set by human anatomy, and various technological integrations similar to a CPU.
Unfortunately at the time, not all of the required technologies were available to create a fully functional prototype, but the project was featured in various exhibitions, and news networks. More recently, this work was featured by DARPA of the US military, on the democratization of bionic prosthesis and subsequently the creation of a law by the US government that allows the development and distribution of bionic prosthesis to the mass market.
5. Moving onto some of your designs, what is the product you are most proud of, and why?
It is a hard question to ask a designer, as each product offers a different sense of satisfaction. For one, it would be our BOLT bracelets. It is a wearable leather bracelet with different finishes in gold, black rhodium and silver, which can be used to charge Apple mobile devices like your iPhone or iPad. The main reason why consumers regardless of age, gender or culture, have accepted BOLT is because it does not create an “identity fracture” in their everyday lives. The bracelet fully integrates, if not complements, the wearer’s style and fashion sensitivity while offering a solution to a daily need – charging your device!
On a different scale, I am particularly proud of our Eden Ping-Pong table. It is in my opinion one of our most iconic statement piece with a perfect balance between design, materialization and artistry. It redefines the codes of luxury while stay true to the nature of the game.
6. Most designers focus on a specialty, but we’ve noticed with Charles Darius, the brand focuses on almost everything and anything. Do you think that makes the brand stronger/better when other designers only focus on one specific type of product?
My experience is that most designers have a passion for a specific product, which leads them to focus on a single product category. I am passionate about the art of making things and what we call “design thinking” i.e. the thinking process and methodology to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions. It draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore different possibilities and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the customer). In other words, I like to criticize established products and imagine an “ideal” way to enhance the experience!
7. You seem to be involved in so many things – strategy, art and design, marketing, etc. These thought-heavy roles must require a lot of creativity and problem solving. For our designer readers out there, what are your tips to gather inspiration?
I don’t have a specific source for creativity; I think it is a combination of experiences, and learning new things. The more you are exposed to various situations and cultures the more you will be inspired. For instance, I love to learn about the “behind the scenes” of industries I am not familiar with, whether it is manufacturing products or environmental business concepts. Ultimately, the reason behind learning and experiencing all these different notions is to design a product that is able to capture the essence of what customers desire. In most cases, it is not about designing something the designer personally like or would buy, it is about creating an item that has a value in the consumer market, whether financially or aesthetically. Otherwise, it is just an interesting sketch or artwork that will only be displayed in your portfolio.
8. You seem to have experience with tinkering and creating things people want and need. To you, what defines a great product? Do you instill the same product design philosophy to your designers?
I do share my philosophy with all my collaborators, and designers. I think sharing and understanding each other’s skill sets, knowledge, and vision is really important to work cohesively and effectively.
As far of what is a good product… it should make sense with the business requirements on a manufacturing and distributing platform. The accessory needs to be culturally cohesive with the target demographic (not everything is meant for everybody), and it must create an added value for its user, whether it’s functional or emotional. If you can achieve all of those, you should have the foundation for a successful accessory.
9. Describe your audience, and why they love your designs?
Our audience is mostly composed of those who have a genuine interest and appreciation for particularly well-crafted products, and an understated tone to them. I think that people are drawn to our designs because they have an organic lifestyle design, while offering a premium quality. There is a “soulful” characteristic within the textures and material which people can relate to.
With that final question, we conclude our interview series with Charles Darius, an up and coming visionary in the accessories space. It is this type of creativity that makes the team at BRENMI do what they do – to meet amazing designers and creative directors such as CD.
For all the readers out there you can check out his products online below and get 20% until April 18th, using the code: BRENMI
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THE BRENMI TEAM