September is Silmo month.
It's the month when I travel to Europe and make the most of 30hours air travel for an abundant supply of cheese and wine on tap. I say ‘I’ this time, as my loving and supportive wife Josie was not able to make the trip, needing to only juggle our new store 6 days a week while raising 2 children under 3 aswell…. Presents were bought and some by me, some by Josie…
So back in Europe, the continent where all diets are forgotten and belts are loosened and eyewear voyeuristically observed.
This trip was perhaps a little over optimistic, as I visited a new city every 1.5 days.
Day 1 : Paris, Lyon and the Jura Mountains. Armed with an Australian speaking GPS in a French car, driving on the wrong side of the road, out of time zone whack by 8hrs and a little feverish by a ‘flu’ caught enroute – WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG!!
After visiting a potential stockist in Paris a B-line was made for Lyon to see our friends at Optique Createurs, the best eyewear store in all of Lyon. Dressing for Winter and being delivered an Indian Summer, the staff at Optique des Createurs were very accommodating of me as I melted in the heat… Seeing my stock in the window and on customers always gives me a thrill – but even more so when I’m overseas.
Knowing that I’ve totally nailed a design for a particular person – without seeing them – is the ultimate reward for any Industrial Designer. It would be immensely different and easier task if I'd copied a frame based on Marketing Data or Sales Figures. All Niloca designs push the boundaries of what’s deemed ‘designer or stylish eyewear’, so to see it worn, warms the cockles of the heart.
So to the courageous few that ride the crest of the wave while others observe from the wake – I personally, thank each and everyone of you.
Next day I went through very exciting technical details for new designs and materials. I won’t bore you, rather, I’ll promise to keep you informed when released in 2016. YES it takes that long to create something new.
Rome, honestly, my favourite city in Europe. It still has the old neighborhood society, the heiracy, the cobbled roads, the uber-relaxed nonchalant living. The important things in life are maintained here, it’s a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne, NYC or Paris. The balance of life is definitely skewed to AMAZING FOOD and AMAZING WINE and AMAZING FASHION. The small streets make it impossible not to greet a complete stranger walking toward you, without getting stabbed I mean – or harangued for ‘a few dollars’.
Meeting the delightful people at Astrologo Ottica, was like returning home. My primary school Italian was all but forgotten, so we had to make good with hand gestures and small talk. However the common passion for eyewear we both share brought us together – until the store was filled with customers, where I exited discreetly.
Next stop Milano, like Rome except with added hustle and bustle. Here I had more discussions with more stockists – to be revealed once stock is delivered. However I will say this as a hint, the entire city is AMAZING and especially the surrounding country side.
Next stop Grenoble and time for R&R. Those that know me, know that I’m an A-Grade cyclist, winning races on the local circuit in Melbourne and around Australia. So I just had to pay respects to the Alps on my 2 days off in Grenoble. I won’t write too much, except to say riding through the Hautes Alpes to a peak of nearly 3000m, was like living a JRR Tolken epic. The scenery was inspiring, heart stopping (ironically as I tackled +10% climbs) and breathless all at once. This is what cycling is about, a chance to reflect, enjoy and unwind. Next year some Andorran, US and Belgium friends will be joining in, if interested please email me.
Tuesday – off to Paris on the fast train for some Sales Training. Yes I know it’s not obvious, I’m such a people person.. honestly though, I relate strongly to the opening lyrics of Vance Joy'a song Riptide. So I had decided to accept a very special invite to an exclusive sales training session in Paris, held by a beautiful bunch of people. This all-day work shop was just what I needed after spending the year either talking baby talk, yelling obscenities at the computer while designing and/or discussing designs with myself late at night in the office.