Rainer Mutsch embodies modern Vienna. He is an industrial designer creating minimalist designs atop an extremely busy street around the corner from the Belvedere Palace. In other words, it’s a mix of creative edge, traffic that could have put Jimi Hendrix in a songwriting mood, and Disneyland-for-real. Mutsch’s designs are often very material and tech-driven – he studied furniture design in Copenhagen, product design at the University of Arts Berlin, and industrial design at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. He’s had his own design studio since 2008, with notable projects including modular outdoor furniture made of fiber-cement, as well as a variety of other projects in which structural and mechanical properties go hand-in-hand. With this focus, it makes sense that Rado (with its emphasis on materials-driven watch design) paid a visit to his studio in a 19th-century apartment building some 18 months ago – where I met him to talk about his design for the Rado True Stratum.
After apologizing for the door buzzer not working (it was a nice change of pace to be met by a personalized handwritten note sticky-taped to the intercom) and apologizing again for the lack of an elevator, Mutsch leads me into a high-ceilinged apartment, with walls lined with prototypes and sketches of products that are now in production at global furniture and lighting companies.
A lot of watch designers pay extreme attention to the layout of the digits, and typography. But Mutsch, 40 this year, chose a road less travelled. “When Rado contacted me I asked myself ‘what value can I add to a company that has a long tradition in material and design?’ I am an industrial designer, not a graphic designer, so I wanted to work with the third dimension. This was the basic idea behind what would become Rado cheap fake watches True Stratum, a very pure watch,” he says.