Our Notable Women series features inspirational women who are leaders in their field and who we personally admire. We have deliberately chosen to profile women with a variety of different backgrounds, ages and careers in order to celebrate the diversity and creativity of the modern woman.
WE’RE VERY PROUD TO INTRODUCE OUR LATEST TALENTED interviewee—FIONA KRÜGER
Fiona Krüger is a designer whose eponymous watch brand is making waves in what remains very much a man's world. Launched in 2013, Fiona Krüger timepieces takes an artistic approach to haute horlogerie through the integration of art with Swiss-made craftsmanship and technology.
When we met Fiona we were struck by her inspirational creativity and passion to do things differently in a traditional category, even when that involves an enormous amount of hard work and grit. Her talent and enthusiasm are now paying off and Fiona has recently been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, BBC and many more. Wallpaper deemed her “UK's coolest watch designer”. We concur!
WHAT IS YOUR AVERAGE DAY LIKE?
I’m an artist/designer; I’m the founder of my own-name brand—Fiona Krüger (FK), I’m also a freelance designer for other luxury brands, and intermittently a teacher too.
I love making things and everything I create is underpinned by a strong concept with a universal theme. I believe that luxury has an obligation to be meaningful, which stems from my artistic background: think about it—if you’re using the best materials and working with the most talented artisans and manufacturers, surely the design of the product you are making should have a real “reason why” behind it! Besides that I’m a proud Scott and a horrendous singer!
An average day depends in which part of our business’s “cycle” we’re in… so if it’s a design/development phase I can be drawing/designing all day, on the road meeting with our supply partners or presenting a design to a client. At other times it’ll be more emails and meetings or managing production, and throughout the year some shows/events (during those times any schedule goes out the window).
If I’m teaching it’s usually a workshop at ECAL linked with a brand partner, which will be blocks of days to visit their headquarters and manufacture and then work with students. I’ve taught on their Masters in Design for Luxury and Craftsmanship since graduating from that programme, and it means I’ve gotten to develop projects and lead workshops for some amazing brands (Hermes, Baccarat, Vacheron Constantin etc… ).
That being said, I do get up early (about 5am). My morning starts with meditation and exercise, then I do any “big work” or creative projects first as my brain is at it’s best in the morning. If I’m really in the zone that will carry on into the afternoon, otherwise I will switch to less creative tasks. I make a point of “switching off” at 5pm unless I have a meeting or we need to give things an extra push ahead of a deadline.
What do you see as your biggest achievement(s) to date?
Learning how to take my work seriously but not take myself seriously! On a personal level having a happy family life with Michael (the hub)—we’re a team in life and in business and make each other laugh a lot!
Professionally I would say creating the company out of nothing—no network, no contacts, no experience and no money—and not compromising on our vision. FK is built on a creativity first approach; I always wanted to make my clients dream with the pieces I created, and I think we’ve done that. We’ve hit some incredible milestones along the way, like being shortlisted for the GPHG (it’s the oscars of the watch industry), and creating our very own mechanism (it’s something only tackled by big brands with big budgets!). But I have to say, there’s no better feeling as a creative person than having a client tell you how much they love the piece they just bought from you.
Which other women inspire you the most and why?
There are so many!… let me narrow it down to 3 of each.
My best friend Stef—she’s one of the strongest women I’ve ever met, but also incredibly funny and a creative powerhouse.
My Mum—she’s one of the kindest people I know, which is a quality I think can be hugely underrated. She’s also extremely intelligent and humble.
Maja Maljevic—she’s an artist based in South Africa whose work I LOVE!!! Every time I look at her work it’s like inhaling creative oxygen for my brain.
Maja Angelou—Grace personified combined with wisdom and humour. What’s not to like?!
Louise Bourgeois—Creative genius.
Tilda Swinton—If “cool” was a person it would be Tilda Swinton.
Have you noticed a shift in terms of how women are being portrayed in the media in the last few years?
Well, the watch industry seems to have woken up to the fact that making a watch the colour pink or putting diamonds on it doesn’t make it a “woman’s watch”… it just makes it a pink watch with diamonds on it! So I’m very happy about that change. I think people in general are becoming more aware of the stereotypes which exist about women, and are trying not to be blindly influenced by those. Today it’s about the individual (their personality, values, etc… ) and gender is slowly becoming just another “fact”, like the colour of your eyes, or your accent. I think the more people get confident with their own voice and express it in an honest way the more exciting the conversation.
What do you think women are looking for from brands today?
Meaning—I think clients in general and women in particular are looking to be inspired, to discover something new, to be shown a new way of looking at things. I think women have a natural intuition which means that if they feel a brand is doing something which is genuinely interesting and exciting they will engage, and I think they value real creativity in the pursuit of creating something truly special. The women who buy our pieces know who they are and their choices reflect their individual personalities, so it’s about having something to share with them.
I think women expect from brands what they expect from any conversation—to be listened to and to be engaged with in an intelligent way.
What are your favourite brands and why?
Hussein Chalayan—I went to see his exhibition at the Design Museum years ago and spent almost 4 hours in there. I love the way his brain works, so I’m a fan of the brand by default, but not yet an owner.
Dior—I love what Maria Grazia Chiuri has been doing there. She plays a lot with contrast, (tailoring vs. soft for example) and contrast is something I use a lot in my own work, so I always discover something interesting in what she does. They’re also on the wish-list.
Pichulik—they’re a south african jewellery brand and I wear their jewellery all. the. time. Obsessed doesn’t even come close, their jewellery makes me smile, it’s inspiring, and I don’t think I’ll ever own enough of it!
Do you think we need another term to replace ‘empowered’?
“Empowered” always felt to me like it was someone giving power to someone else, and when I looked up the definition in the dictionary that kind of rings true. There are so many incredible women doing great things, in big ways and quiet ways—I think we can just “be”.