Last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Gaga, Haus of Gaga and Polariod debuted three new Grey Label Line products; a new digital/print camera, a wireless mini printer that uses innovative ink and wearable camera/sideshow glasses. What you might not know is that design firm Ammunition was the fourth collaborator. We spoke with Ammunition founder about the design process and the "camera glasses".
Polaroid GL30 Camera
Lady Gaga is Polaroid's creative director and Ammunition are the designers of these new Grey Label products - can you tell us how that collaboration came about?
And what the collaboration consisted of - how it worked?
I started working with her and her team though Beats by Dr. Dre, our headphone line. We worked with them to create her "HeartBeats" in-ear headphone last year. We had a good working relationship on this project and enjoyed the process. After she became involved with Polaroid, her team approached me to help develop the glasses. Eventually we were contracted by Polaroid to help develop the entire Grey Label line. I think for Gaga, there is a love and respect of the original Polaroid brand and passion about the creation of and sharing of images, so she connected with Polaroid to work together and became their Creative Director. We became involved to bring our approach and expertise to help create the first products. Now it's become a full effort to help Polaroid to return to its roots of innovation. The collaboration is good. Never a dull moment! Some people probably think this is another "celebrity endorsement" but it's really not the case here. She has a lot of passion about the brand and takes her role very seriously. She wants to do great design, push things and build great products. So for me this is an ideal situation. Great brand, really creative people, cool ideas. It's fun. She is a very smart, engaged, and an extremely creative person. The working process is about understanding and exploring her vision, creating and review concepts, and developing and detailing them. We meet in person and review remotely. Its sometimes challenging with the demands she has. But its really important to keep the communication open. Our role is to help her make great things happen. There seems to be a lot of mutual respect going around. It probably would not work otherwise.
The approach is typically it is a process of discussion, brainstorming, development and review in several cycles. That is we meet initially and talk at a high level about what we want to do, generate loose ideas, talk about the experience we want, etc. Then my team and I generate specific concepts based on this, visualize them, create rough models, etc. Then we review and discuss, hopefully in person. This second discussion is probably the most important as we start to zone in on what we are really trying to do. At this point all feedback is valid as we collectively are seeking to discover that kernel of a great idea to build upon. After this we usually do multiple rounds of development and modeling, and most interaction is over the phone or e mail. As we get the final concept ready to move forward, we meet again to review realistic models and prototypes to finalize the details with her. Then as we move forward into production we review the pre production product for final approval and final tweaking. Its a back and forth thing. One of our challenges is always helping her and her team to understand what it takes to build a great product, what the challenges and constraints are, technical and ergonomic issues, etc. But as its a shared responsibility, it actually goes pretty well.
Polaroid GL10 Printer
Camera Glasses, camera, printer, why three products?
These were the first in the development cue. We felt it was important to go out with a suite of products and these all have different positions. Overall the idea of Grey Label gives consumers a new and exciting way to embrace self-expression, originality and artistry and communicate it instantly through technology to the world around them. To this end, the GL20 Camera Glasses are more experimental and signal our collective desire to push boundaries in integrating imaging and self expression. The GL30 Instant Digital Camera is really the modernization of the classic Polaroid instant camera, bring digital technology to the idea of instant photography. The camera design is vestigial of classic Polaroid cameras of the past, while being modern and forward looking as well. The GL10 Instant Mobile Printer was a recognition that to many their mobile phones are their new cameras, and it would allow them to participate in Polaroid style imaging with their devices. We felt it was a great group to go out with.
Polaroid GL20 Camera Camera Glasses
The Camera Glasses have attracted a bit of controversy with some saying that they're an example of how style can trump substance. Your thoughts?
Well, What's wrong with some style sometimes? ;) Seriously, I think anything new and reaching gets some of this attention. And in this case we are really experimenting with the idea of imaging as a real time form of self expression worn on your body. It's really a new thing. So I'd argue against the lack of substance. What I see is a product as a first version of an idea. Is it necessary in people's lives? For many, probably not. Maybe those with a strong need to express themselves this way. But the point is that it's a movement towards looking at how instant imaging can be further integrated into social situations and really become part of one's physical make up. It may not be the perfect product yet, but we will see what people do with it. And iconically it does signal strong movement in this direction for Polaroid and how Lady Gaga wants to push this brand forward.
Polaroid GL30 Camera
Are there plans for more Grey Label products?
If yes, can you share some details?
Yes of course there are plans. But if I told you I'd be shot.
Probably by the lady herself!