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Interviews | April 27, 2017

A chat with… Eric Balzan and Mirko Forte

As Eric Balzan and Mirko Forte are mountain lovers, they go onto the mountains when they are looking for new ideas. There, at the top, they feel the sensation of vacuum that turns into creativity, sketches and new concepts…

words Carolina Saporiti

Hi guys! How are you, in this short stop between opti and Mido?

It’s a bit of a hectic time actually. Thanks for asking! Hapter is challenging us more and more to find the right balance between pushing forward the creative process into unknown territory and raising the level of execution of what we have created already. We are lucky we can do it in our work-shop, in the old village of Borgo Prà – Belluno surrounded by our friends who continuously help us in this process.

What does avant-garde mean to you?

Avant-garde is a state of mind, an attitude first of all. The attitude and will to walk unbeaten paths and continually create the unexpected and previously unknown. For Hapter, this means imagining and developing products that challenge the idea of tradition, pushing them forward to current times and continuously applying artisanal virtues that not only carry out a job in the best way but also find solutions to unknown problems. It’s kind-of the attitude of the outsider: it can be exciting, but also quite stressful as it implies a lot of mistakes and failures.

How are your campaigns conceived and developed?

Most of the campaign ideas – but I must say of the entire Hapter project – come about under the extreme exertion we experience during our mountain activities. When you feel the effect of hyper-oxygenation and the brain functions in a sort of vacuum pack; it performs ecstatically, churning out ideas that connect perfectly at the synapse. Weekends in that environment are where we exercise creativity at its purest and most theoretic level, and we put it down in notes and sketches. Then, on weekdays, we work hard to transform theory into concrete actions, by the means of development plans and especially through a lot of hard work.

How has Hapter changed over the years?

From a certain point of view we have not changed that much. We still put a huge amount of effort and resources into experimentation, and a lot is based on a sort of reckless dedication to pursuing our product and brand dreams, with business and commercial goals being still off the radar. On the other hand, we are also evolving. Our product has become more and more advanced, both in technical and design terms. This brings with it complications that we can manage now that we are climbing up the steep learning curve of our unique concept. At the same time, our internal structure is also growing. This brings responsibility with it so it’s also little by little refining our mentality.

What are you going to present at Mido?

With 10 new models, this is going to be one of the largest launches since we started, as we now manage 2 concept collections at the same time: TXTL001, our trademark collection, played with bridges, presenting classy double-bridges squared and round, and ‘naked’ grilled bridges; RBBR001 is the new concept introduced only as a preview in late 2016. We have put great focus on developing a up to the minute collection, with several new shapes and beautiful colours.

Which part of the creative process is the most difficult?

We are into technical design of new species of eyewear, so there is no know-how or previous experience we can rely on. Most of the time we are able to find solutions, sometimes we have to freeze projects and go back to them at a later time when we have more experience in our project.

What are you going to do after Mido?

It has been a very dry winter, we just had a very late snowfall here in Belluno, which should guarantee snowy mountains well into the Spring season. So we will probably take a couple of days off work and take some freeride lines down the steep slopes. After that, we will focus on Silmo projects. In particular a collaborative model with one of the most talented designers we have met in the last few years. It took us a few years before opening up to collaborative projects with our techniques and materials, but this is the first time we feel that there are grounds again to explore untouched terrain.