Brand Spotlight: The Design Positioning of Nooka

When it comes to accessible fashion in the wristwatch industry, it is generally assumed that brands in this category are usually watered down derivatives. And that assumption isn’t too far away from truth. Most brands are the equivalent of value chains churning out trends from the upper strata of the luxury sphere. There is very little conceptual thinking involved but this doesn’t apply to everyone, as in the case of one Matthew Waldman and his merry brand Nooka.

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For those unfamiliar, the brand was born out of an idea that time could be told in a more simpler way – in the form of dots and bars. Dots for the hours and bars for the minutes. A time telling aesthetic that is usually associated with novelty watches that accentuate the scifi vibes emanating from within.

Nooka, on the other hand, puts forth an argument that their time telling style has less to do with style and more with being intuitive. Embedded in the brand’s folklore is the story of how Matthew came up with the concept:

“My inspiration was a memory. I was sitting in a hotel in London waiting for a client when i noticed a large clock on the wall. It somehow reminded me of the clock on the wall in first grade. This brought back the memory of being taught ‘how to tell time’.

I then remembered being taught ‘how to tell time’ again in the fifth grade when digital clocks became popular. I thought if one has to be taught how to tell time, how intuitive is it really? surely there are other models, once learned, that can be as intuitive as what we are taught.”

What makes the Nooka design story interesting is that they’ve focused on being intuitive and genuinely design forward instead of falling in the novelty amusement trap.

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That, despite the potential for sci-fi leanings, the brand’s design has focused on simple silhouettes rather than flashy cuts, and unlike other wristwatch brands that have pretended to ignore the onslaught of smart-watches coming over the horizon, the brand has taken the stance that their products project a different view of futurism – one that focuses on simplicity rather than features. That, this approach means that you focus on the physical linguistics – how a product feels or communicates rather than any sort of mechanical innovation.

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It’s this positioning that sets Nooka apart and unlike most of their peers that correct themselves in a more mainstream direction after being consumed by an ebb and flow of the market, Matthew has strengthened and tuned the design philosophy of the brand. In a recent talk at an event (You can view the video below), he attributed his approach to his techno-progressivism philosophy which is a viewpoint that social change should not be bogged down by culture but should go hand in hand with technology advancement.

It’s this type of unorthodox thinking that makes it an interesting brand to follow for years to come.

Matthew Waldman. Linguistics of Design [PSFK 2014] from Piers Fawkes on Vimeo.

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