Eager to learn more about PROJECTS watches, I asked The Markuse Corporation’s CEO Jack Markuse a few questions...
What is the quality you find in architecture that carries over to watches and other products?
Traditionally, it has been industrial designers that create product. While this is a good choice, it can also be a limiting choice. Industrial designers are charged with building a product in many cases from the ground up. This includes down to the screws in many of the cases. This can present several problems. One is that often you are re-designing the wheel and a second is that industrial designers are so involved with the most minute detail that often a project cannot be realized because of expense or impracticality.
Architects on the other hand deal with more of a “macro” design and leave the technical details up to the engineers. This not only frees up the architect to focus on the creative aspect of his/her design, but helps the technical people to guide and forge a product priced within the desired goal.
Architects are trained to step back and look at the whole picture…the wrist, the clothing, etc.
Not only are the designs stunning, the price range of $90-135 is striking too. It's a certainly unexpected given the usual association between "designer" and "expensive." Is it a specific part of the Projects mission to make design accessible to a wider audience? To what extent is educating people about architecture and art a component of Projects?
Our mission is to educate through design. In essence whenever one purchases one of our watches he is learning about design. Whether it be the literal translation of one of our watches like the Scarlet (this watch is three dimensional and architectural in its assembly from the tiny small screws that hold the band to the case to the precise curvature of all of its angles) or the symbolic translation such as the High Museum Watch by Richard Meier. This watch is a white massive canvass that when you press a button, the dial lights up. Symbolic of the High Museum which deals with space and lighting.
The Projects mantra is that good design does not have to be expensive. We strive to introduce affordable watches with timeless (no pun intended) design.
What is your impression on Projects evolution since you first startedg it? In the 15 years of business, how has Projects met your hopes and expectations?
Projects is still a company evolving. The Markuse Corporation began in 1983 as the U.S. distributor and design consultant for the Italian company Alessi. During this time, The Markuse Corporation developed PROJECTS. Its initial direction was quite different from today. Originally, we started commissioning American architects to design typically American products such as mailboxes and house numbers. These products were all made in the USA….designed by Americans, made in America. This then evolved to include weathervanes and a Japanese designer. From there we evolved into housewares with bathroom accessories, wall clocks, cookie jars and watches! An immediate affair began between Projects and our buying public with our watches. The designs were unique, affordable, quality oriented and fashionable. Since the introduction of our first watch in 1991 designed by Michael Graves, we have now developed over 60 designs. Some of these designs stay in our collection, some do not and some come back after years of absence.
Finally, what does the future hold for Projects?
We continue to develop unique and affordable watches. We are exploring new technologies. We develop approximately 3 or 4 new designs every six months. Our focus continues to bring great design to the marketplace at affordable prices. Our watches can be found in over 200 museums worldwide. 2010 will bring new designers and artists to the forefront.
Many thanks to Mr. Markuse for generously taking the time to talk with me!
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