DVF|Made for Glass: In Conversation with Isabelle Olsson

June 03, 2014

We are so excited to announce our latest collaboration DVF|Made for Glass! First things first, DVF and Google have joined forces yet again on a super chic eyewear collection that combines the boldness and creativity of Glass Explorers with the confidence and independence of the DVF woman. With five frame colors and eight shades in two styles, there is truly something for everyone. So to mark this momentous debut, we caught up with the woman behind all things Glass, Google’s Isabelle Olsson, on the cutting edge collection, her design philosophy and what it’s like to be a woman in tech.  (And just so you don’t have to Google it: the collection will be available to the public on June 23 through net-a-porter.com and Google.)

So, tell us about how the DVF|Made for Glass collaboration came about:

Diane has always been on the cutting edge. We first collaborated with her in September 2012, when Diane and her models used Glass to share their view of her runway show. We knew we wanted to continue to work together and a DVF collection was a completely natural and thrilling next step for us.

What was the aim when designing DVF|Made for Glass?

Glass is designed to make your life easier. It offers a new, unique way of interacting with technology without distracting from your life. And it’s about being able to express your personal style at the same time. Diane really understood each of these goals and brought that vision to life. The Titanium Collection, which we released in January, is unisex, so I’m excited that we now have expressive women’s styles.

Do you have a favorite style in the collection?

I gravitate towards feminine and minimal designs, so my favorite everyday style is the Shiny Ink frame with Charcoal Glass. I can’t wait to wear the Navigator shades in Orchid Mist on vacation in the South of France this summer and when I hit the ski slopes later this year.

What is your design philosophy?

I believe everything new we create needs to deserve to exist, which means that my approach is always reductionist. We need to remove everything that isn’t necessary until we are left with its very essence.

I set up three design principles for Glass that we have been using along the way: simplicity, lightness (visually and physically) and scalability, which means allowing people to make Glass their own through color and style choices.

As a female industrial designer in the male dominated tech world, what is your take on Lean In? What advice would you give young women hoping to make it in the tech world? 

When I first moved to the U.S., I realized that everyone in tech was iterating on existing products: essentially black, glossy slabs. At my first job at a design firm in San Francisco, all the guys put up inspiration pictures of tech products. I had printed out tiny pictures of jewelry and furniture. I wondered what I’d gotten myself into, but ultimately the team got really excited about how different my approach was.

So, I think it’s important to “lean in” by being unafraid to be different and confident in your ideas. Challenging the status quo and even how or why we approach things the way that we do leads to better questions and ultimately, better products.

What is your work style?

My and my team’s role is to inspire and collaborate. I’ve built a design team with very diverse, non-tech backgrounds, which helps us stay focused on how Glass fits into people’s lives. We are extremely hands-on, building prototypes and experimenting a lot.  This is key to creating a cohesive vision, especially when you’re trying to build something that has never existed before.

Diane loves mantras. Do you have any words that you live by?

Stay uncomfortable. It has helped me take risks and turn them into opportunities. If you get too comfortable, you’re probably not learning or growing. You’re definitely not pushing yourself hard enough.

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