During ArtBasel 2018, Hublot had a special event at their Miami Design District store to celebrate young artist Dozie Kanu, co-winner of the fourth design prize award that Hublot sponsors. For the uninitiated watch lover, you might ask why does Hublot sponsor such prize and why give it to young designers?
I believe the answer to these questions go at the heart of what Hublot is, as a brand, and how it can capture the hearts of more watch lovers. Let’s explore why I am so positive about this prize and Hublot’s involvements in the arts.
Hublot is not new to sponsoring the arts or being involved in celebrations during ArtBasel in Miami Beach. Indeed four years ago I remember being at the same location in the Miami Design District for their collaboration with street artist Mr. Brainwash.
It’s part of Hublot’s long term “Hublot Loves Art” and “The art of fusion” campaigns to collaborate with artists, who like the brand, are breaking the rules, combining and fusing different materials, as the brand does with its watches.
The results of these collaborations sometimes lead to special limited edition watches designed with the artists as well as a series of paintings and art works that Hublot uses to decorate their stores. Visit the Miami Design District store to appreciate some recent art work.
For this year Hublot was also awarding young artists. These are artists that have not yet reached the notoriety of the artists aforementioned and who could use a booster to their careers.
They are typically younger artists whose art fit into the overall vision of Hublot’s values and design ethos: fusion, materials, avant-garde, and bold. Fittingly, the prize was established by Hublot’s Chairman Jean-Claude Biver to celebrate the brand’s flagship model 10 years anniversary: the Big Bang.
The winner this year is Houston-born American artist Dozie Kanu. A recent art school graduate who is establishing himself as a sculptor and mixed-media artist that uses metals and other materials to create everyday objects and furnitures in vibrant colors.
After a brief introduction by the Hublot team, we got a chance to walk the ever expanding and luxurious location that is the Miami Design District to see and touch Dozie’s art. For the winning installation, Dozie created a series of live usable multicolored metallic structures all over the Design District.
Some represent Dozie’s fascination to convert scrap metals to create usable objects such as a series of children playground sculptures. Coloring them in pastel metallic red, blue, yellow, and green, the results fits perfectly in the mostly white Design District corridors. They give a sense of playfulness to an otherwise up scale and posh area of Miami Beach.
Part of Dozie’s goal is to create usable livable art that don’t just take space and are nice to look at, but that kids can use and play. Another part of his installation was colorful metallic bird feeders that he sprinkled around the neighborhood’s trees; while also perfectly fitting the Christmas atmosphere that was growing in early December.
Dozie explained that the feeders had to be “disabled” by not having a receptacle for water or filled with food. This is mainly due to avoid the consequences of having birds eating in an area where shoppers and diners are walking and enjoying the warm weather of this part of the world. I quickly suggested he’d create dog bowls and cages that could be useful to the growing population of canine companions of shoppers.
Hublot is a successful brand that has its die-hard fans and detractors. Their bold, modern, fusion designs are undeniably unique and attractive. Even if you don’t like Hublot, you can surely appreciate that the Bing Bang’s design, and it’s derivatives, is unique and bold. The brand’s detractors will criticize Hublot for creating too many special editions and diluting the original design.
I don’t disagree with this viewpoint and I certainly have tempered my initial lust for their watches when I first saw the original Big Bang more than 10 years ago. Jean-Claude Biver is on record answering this criticism as a strategy to maintain and own the wrist of the Hublot buyer. That is, after purchasing their first watch, the many limited editions are a means to allow customers to come back and buy something a bit more special and less common and keep wearing Hublot watches.
The problem of course is that Hublot has released so many limited editions that new customers, or those unfamiliar with their watches, will have a hard time knowing which watches are part of the mainstream collection. They all seem to be limited. Therefore creating an unlimited limited set of watches!
In any case, talking to brand representatives, this business model seems to work for them, as sales keep going up. So perhaps this detracting view is in the minority and does not impact the brand’s core customers.
For me, I like Hublot for being the trailblazer in fusing materials and thinking bold while staying pure to a design language that is unique to them. Like them or not, you cannot but appreciate some of their releases: colored ceramic, Big Bang sapphire, and by pushing watchmaking art with their Hublot Ferrari 50 days, 16 days, and tourbillon chronograph movements, as well as the super technical and cool Big Bang Meca-10 line.
In the end, I also personally appreciate and like Hublot as a collector. In my view, they represent that crazy Harley-riding uncle that we all have. They are cool, look dangerous, and loud. But boy do we enjoy taking a ride on the back of that black and loud Harley. Wearing a helmet and protective leather jacket, of course.
And like that unforgettable ride, perhaps you will also develop a taste for the “dangerous” and liberating ride and join the club — or admire it from afar. However, you cannot deny the feeling and joy the experience brought to you and daily to their owners. Hublot for me is that Harley-riding uncle, in watch form. Keep banging! hublot.com