Dezeen Watch Store: a meeting in Hong Kong in 2008 led to the launch of the first Void watch on Dezeen and, shortly after that, the creation of Dezeen Watch Store. As we unveil our first limited-edition collaboration with the watch brand, founder David Ericsson explains how the elegantly minimal timepiece came about (+ interview).
A pared-back version of Void's iconic V03, the timepiece features a bespoke dial with minimal dial graphics and a black case and black leather strap.
"We designed a custom dial, which is the most unique feature on the watch," said Void founder David Ericsson. "We pretty much took away the regular details that we have."
"We stripped it back until it's almost blank," added Void product designer Patrick Kim-Gustafson.
The collaboration comes eight years after Ericsson met Dezeen founder Marcus Fairs in Hong Kong, where the watch brand is based.
The two agreed that Dezeen would be the perfect platform to launch Void's first watch, which happened in the form of a competition to give away five of the brand's striking, rectangular V01 watches.
"Launching my watch with Dezeen was probably the one clever thing I did around that time, apart from designing a nice product," Ericsson said.
"My first watch was the V01, and Dezeen really liked it," he added. "Dezeen has been in Void's history since day one."
The conversation between Fairs and Ericsson in 2008 also led directly to the creation of Dezeen Watch Store the following year.
"I met up with David Ericsson from Void in Hong Kong and he told me all the benefits to selling watches," Fairs wrote in a blog post about the origins of Dezeen Watch Store.
"There wasn't anywhere you could buy watches by brands like Void so we decided that it would be a good idea to launch an online watch store."
Swedish-born Ericsson explained that there wasn't a template for a design-led watch brand when he started his company in 2008.
"I didn't know how to package a small design niche brand like this. It's fun to have that blank page, you feel like a pioneer," he said.
The brand's design language employs simple, geometric forms, plain materials and restrained detailing that reflects Ericsson's Scandinavian heritage.
Ericsson is glad he chose to launch his brand in Hong Kong, however.
"It feels like a very open atmosphere in general," he said. "People are quite open to ideas. If I tell people that I'm a Swedish designer and I just started my company they think 'Wow! You're an entrepreneur!' But if you say the same thing in Sweden, it's like 'You couldn't get a job'."
Read the edited transcript from our interview with David Ericsson and Patrick Kim-Gustafson below:
Trudie Carter: How did the collaboration begin?
Patrick Kim-Gustafson: I think it's been with us since day one.
David Ericsson: The background story is, I met Marcus quite a long time ago when he was visiting in Hong Kong. He mentioned he was planning to start something in online retailing and I guess we had the embryo of an idea at the same time.
At that point we had recently done a competition with you guys. We basically launched the brand through Dezeen in 2008, which was probably the one clever thing I did around that time, apart from designing a nice product. My first watch was the V01, and Dezeen really liked it.
From day one, Dezeen was in Void Watches' history. It has been our biggest channel to the people that I would like to know about my product.
Trudie Carter: And how has Void developed since you launched?
David Ericsson: It's not so rough around the edges anymore. These days there's a lot of small watch brands, so it is easy to forget that when I started Void Watches there were no other brands to look at. So, I didn't know how to package a small design niche brand like this.It's fun to have that blank page, it's a nice realm to work in when there's not really that much happening in that field. You feel like a bit of a pioneer I guess. I was quite fortunate to pick that spot at an early stage.
Trudie Carter: Why do you think so many young, independent watch brands are starting up at the moment?
David Ericsson: I think it's always been a good idea waiting to happen, but I also think it's the tools to do these things are so accessible now, and by tools I also mean it's pretty cheap to travel, it's easy to get on a flight.
I happen to live in Hong Kong, so for me to get to our manufacturer is very easy and I think our edge on a lot of other companies is that we are close to our factories. I like to think we can maintain quite a high level of quality at a decent price when other companies have to spend a lot of money to be able to do what we do.
But these days younger designers are luckier, they get it a little bit more than people my age. They're not too scared of trying stuff.
Trudie Carter: What are the other benefits of being based in Hong Kong?
Patrick Kim-Gustafson: It's very allowing. You can try whatever you like - if you want to do perfumes one day, you can try to do that.
David Ericsson: It feels like a very open atmosphere in general. People are quite open to ideas. If I tell people that "I'm a Swedish designer and I just started my company" they would think "Wow! You're an entrepreneur!"But if you say the same thing in Sweden, it's like "You couldn't get a job".
Patrick Kim-Gustafson: "You're working from bed", that's what they say.
Trudie Carter: How has your background informed the way you design?
David Ericsson: People approach product design in different ways. I really like manufacturing and I like to be involved in the process, and I like to understand the process.
Of course a lot of designers work more on their styling, you know colour, graphics and kind of approach the project from the other direction. I prefer to push from inward-out rather than from the outside-in. So if you're that type of designer then it's such a fun place to be because there's factories making everything in southern China.
Trudie Carter: Tell me about the watch you've produced with Dezeen.
David Ericsson: It's based on the V03. We designed a custom dial, which is the most unique feature on the watch. Patrick worked on the dial design. We pretty much scaled away the regular details that we have.
We usually have numbers like hours, minutes, that follow the curvature of the watch and they are upside down on the bottom. So it's a little bit quirky in that sense. For the Dezeen version, we decided to take away all those quirks.
Patrick Kim-Gustafson: We stripped it back until it's almost blank and thought "Ok, so what do we need? We need index, minutes and hours."
Trudie Carter: The Dezeen logo is pretty discreet, printed on the back of the case and on the buckle.
David Ericsson: It's not in your face. Dezeen held us back a little bit on this kind of detailing! In the end we persuaded you to put this little logo on the front of the buckle. That's pretty much as subtle as it gets, I think, when it comes to branding.
Trudie Carter: Your own logo on the dial is pretty discreet too.
David Ericsson: We brand our products at the six o'clock position. This is a bit of a joke to the watch industry: normally this is where it says "Swiss Made" on watches. So if you're a watch person, you'll check where the watch is made. In the beginning it was really for watch boffins, because that's where you check.
Trudie Carter: What's your design approach?
David Ericsson: We try to have a little bit of integrity in what we do. The more time we work on designing things, the fewer people are going to like it. But the people that like it are going to like it a little bit more.
Patrick Kim-Gustafson: They're going to love it.
David Ericsson: Yes. At least that's ambition. We have a very backwards approach.