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Eclipsing Boundaries With Titan Minimal Art
Silhouette's Michael Schmied discusses TMA24, sustainability, and relentless eyewear innovation
In this exclusive interview with Michael Schmied, the third-generation owner and CMO of Silhouette, we dive into the iconic Titanium Minimal Art's 25th-anniversary celebration and the launch of the innovative TMA24 collection. Schmied shares insights on Silhouette's commitment to sustainability, its visionary approach to eyewear design, and the relentless pursuit of innovation that defines the brand's legacy.
VisionPlus: Congratulations on your anniversary! And to the next generation of the Titanium Minimal Art!
Michael Schmied: Thank you very much. 2024 is indeed a special year for us. We celebrate 60 years of Silhouette and 25 years of our iconic Titan Minimal Art. There are groundbreaking ideas that are still unsurpassed many years after their creation, and which continue to set standards. Titan Minimal Art is one of those rare examples. First launched in 1999, the minimalistic design revolutionized the whole eyewear market. It inspires millions of people around the world. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of our icon, we launched an update that is designed for the next generation of visionaries.
VP: Tell us something about Silhouette’s operating philosophy. What drives you?
MS: Our success lies in our brand’s claim: We set the benchmark for premium eyewear. We don’t want to create just any eyewear – we want to create the world’s finest. That’s why we are constantly looking for new innovations that fit us. We want to explore new paths – where others see risks, we see chances and possibilities to evolve and grow.
VP: What is the Space story of your Titanium Minimal Art Collection?
MS: In 2000, after rigorous scientific testing, the Titan Minimal Art became space-certified and was selected as the favoured eyewear for all astronauts. It subsequently travelled into space and has since proven itself as a trusted crew member on numerous missions.
The lack of screws eliminates the risk of parts coming loose and causing damage or injury. The non-slip fit, and unique wearing comfort of the Titan Minimal Art is also very helpful, as astronauts cannot adjust the fit of their eyewear during their long outdoor missions. In homage to space travel the campaign of the 2024 collection features models posing in deep-space backgrounds created by AI/CGI.
VP: After 25 years of this TMA launch, you have brought in the commemorative Highlight Collection. Is it still a unique range and technology?
MS: The 2024 collection combines the best of 25 years and enriches the legend with even more detail. Serious progress has been made in technical refinements. For example, the dynamic, rimless models are characterized by an innovative lens finishing technique, a more delicate nose bridge and even more easily adaptable titanium temples with additional flex zones. These innovations create a fresh, exciting look, which can be designed to appear even younger and trendier with very modern highlight shapes.
VP: Who are the architects of these innovations? Please tell us about the founding family and about Designer Gerhard Fuchs.
MS: When Anneliese and Arnold Schmied founded Silhouette in 1964, they believed that eyewear should be much more than just a visual aid; they saw it as an accessory for improved vision that also complements the wearer's appearance. Producing eyewear of the highest quality was of utmost importance for our founders. These visions define our company to this day.
Based on the qualitative and aesthetic roots of our brand DNA, in 1999 Gerhard Fuchs, designer of the Titan Minimal Art, stated that he wanted to omit anything that was unnecessary while refusing to compromise in terms of design and comfort. Together with technical innovations that were groundbreaking the revolutionary approach of Titan Minimal Art became reality.
Today, over 12.4 million pairs have been sold and there is no end in sight to this success. Silhouette is constantly working on the details with passion, dedication, and meticulousness.
VP: You are determined to be climate-neutral and carbon-neutral. Can you tell us more about this? How you are going to achieve these goals?
MS: Our mission is zero emissions. At our corporate headquarters and at our production site, we already use 100 percent CO2-free, sustainable and environmentally friendly electricity. Our energy is generated from natural, renewable sources such as wind, solar, small-sourced power, and biofuels and is free of CO2 and nuclear power.
We are committed to investing in clean energy for the future. Our own solar energy panels generate around 15% of the electricity we consume each year. And our green energy mission is only just getting started.
As a family-owned business, the Silhouette Group has always been mindful of the future of the planet. For many years now, we’ve been pursuing a goal to reduce our CO2 emissions to zero. So far, we’ve managed to halve our CO2 emissions within the space of seven years. Back in September 2022, we reached an important milestone: our eyewear production achieved the status of carbon-neutral with offsetting.
The remaining tons are offset by acquiring certificates from international Gold Standard projects. Deriving from this, we cemented our key objective by adding a timeline, and we’re now working hard to ensure that our eyewear production is carbon-neutral without external offsetting by 2027.
VP: You currently have over 50 patents pending. Can you tell us more about your future plans?
MS: We are constantly looking for new technologies and new materials. 2024 marks a groundbreaking moment with the launch of our first sustainable eyewear collection. This milestone not only underscores our dedication to innovation but also empowers customers to make a style statement with a profound impact on environmental responsibility.
VP: You say pioneers never rest, they innovate. Can you elaborate?
MS: Innovation has always been an important part of the human experience. It is the driving force behind societal changes.
When we look back on our company history, dating all the way back to 1964, one thing is clear: Silhouette has always strived to innovate. And our company has always dared to embrace the new—with great courage and passion. We don’t just rest on our laurels. Just because something seems set in stone doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way of doing it. This constant curiosity, creativity and passion is what keeps us searching for new, innovative solutions.