Tomas Maier on Creative Collaboration

Tomas Maier muses on creative collaboration and his design process.

04.23.09 7:38 AM ET

Since assuming a seat at the helm of Bottega Veneta in 2001, Creative Director Tomas Maier has expanded the brand’s repertoire immensely. What was once a Mecca for luxury leather goods has evolved into a multi-faceted mega brand boasting men’s and women’s lines, as well as furniture and home décor. From working with in-house Italian artisans, to enlisting fine art photographers for the brand’s advertising campaigns, collaboration is integral to Maier’s creative process, as well as Bottega Veneta’s dynamic brand identity.

[#AD-BV20#] Maier first spoke about the challenges he has faced as head of Bottega Veneta, as well as the brand’s reputation for quiet sophistication. Here, in the second of three conversations, Maier discusses an upcoming partnership and personal style. As of mid-April, the brand showcases the fruits of a new partnership—a pairing with one of NYC’s premiere shopping destinations: Bergdorf Goodman. The full-store installation acts as a visual entrée into the world of Bottega Veneta. Here, Maier shows us the creative process and collaboration through his eyes.

Tell me about the collaboration with Bergdorf Goodman.

The World of Bottega Veneta at Bergdorf Goodman opened on April 14th and it’s a full-store installation showcasing the entire brand. There are also window displays, a dinner, and The Fenice, a limited-edition handbag that we’ve designed for the occasion—it’s very exciting.

You’re known for having a hand in all aspects of Bottega Veneta—from accessories and furniture, to the décor within the brand’s boutiques. Is the same true of the Bergdorf Goodman collaboration?

It’s true, I’m usually involved in everything, but this time I left the decisions to Bergdorf Goodman. They selected the items to be displayed and designed the installation. The idea is to show Bottega Veneta through the eyes of Bergdorf Goodman. For me it’s been fascinating to gain another perspective.

What is the key to keeping all of the different branches of Bottega Veneta—from shoes and jewelry to furniture and glassware—cohesive and complimentary?

The principles I mentioned earlier—quality, craftsmanship, functionality, and timeless design—keep the brand aesthetically and philosophically consistent. We’re also careful to grow organically, with each new line evolving from previous ones.

How would you describe your design process?

The first step is color. I begin with a color palette and then consider materials and shape. Often there’s an idea or question that drives the process. For example, in the Women’s S/S 2009 collection, we explored construction, particularly the relationship between fabric and form.

Who do you see when you envision the ideal Bottega Veneta customer?

I picture men and women with confidence and personal style.

Do you expect that customer to change at all as a result of the recession?

No. We aren’t changing what we do so I don’t expect our customer to change.

Bottega Veneta has commissioned an eclectic array of photographers for its ad campaigns. Why the choice to avoid traditional fashion photographers?

Using different kinds of photographers conveys the fact that Bottega Veneta is not a fashion label in the traditional sense. I think it also underscores the importance of individuality and personal style.

Why is collaboration important to you as a creative as well as to Bottega Veneta as a brand?

Collaboration allows me to see things differently, to explore new ideas, to consider other possibilities. For Bottega Veneta, the collaboration between artisan and designer is the foundation of the brand. The collaborative process can be difficult or easy, but it’s always constructive.

Part two of an exclusive three-part series. Next: The Future of Bottega Veneta. For part one, click here.