Artnet Asks: Collector and Designer Tomas Maier

Cranach, Holbein, Twombly, Agnes Martin, and Judd excite the designer.

Tomas Maier

Tomas Maier is the creative director of Bottega Veneta and an avid art collector. He talks to Benjamin Genocchio about collecting, collaborating with artists on campaigns, and what inspires his designs. He lives between New York and Gulfstream, which is in Palm Beach county.

Let’s talk about the idea of “less being more” which you are often quoted as saying is a guiding aesthetic principle in your work.  

It’s about adhering to an ethos that’s fortified and fed by understatement–a clear line of thinking, free of clutter. The aesthetic principle, as you say, is trendless, timeless, and functional. It’s not “minimalistic,” though, which so often seems to be associated with the term “less is more.”

Geometry, optical imagery, simplicity and clean lines seems to have been a common thread in your work, correct?

Obliquely, yes. I think the simplicities and lines you see in Bottega Veneta can be attributed to my early childhood exposure to architecture. But it’s never so literal or finite. My inspiration comes from everywhere–though these are things that I relate to.

Goethe has this idea of elective affinities, basically that we gravitate towards things that in turn gravitate towards us. You have achieved great success at Bottega so I am wondering if you feel you have that kind of affinity with the brand?

In respect to the brand’s extraordinary artisanal production methods and the framework for developing and innovating said methods therein, yes. But also no, in that Bottega is very different now than when I first started at the company. Affinity to me suggests something totally reflexive. I was eager because my ambition was to design and produce work that would speak for itself, but it was (and still is) about always pushing forward, and never settling for anything less than optimal. My relationship with the brand is deep and evolving, but it’s not necessarily an affinity.

You have the passion, opportunity and means to collect art. Is this something you do strictly for pleasure, stimulation, or does it feed into your work?

I collect based on what speaks to me – there is no formula.

What are the artists you are most interested in right now and why?

Cranach, Holbein, Twombly, Agnes Martin, Judd. Each has their own particularities.

How do you pick the artists to work with on the campaigns? What are you looking for there?  Is it after you design and then think a particular artist would be a good choice to photograph the collection?

The collection is already designed. We always try to think how a specific collection could fit with a particular artist’s work, and from there we determine the choice that makes the most sense for both us and the artist.

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