When Boris Bidjan Saberi was starting out as a designer, having settled in Barcelona, he came across the work of the Chilean artisan Miguel Munoz Wilson, the designer behind the Barcelona-based label Munoz Vrandecic. Saberi was smitten. He approached MV about collaborating, but it did not work out.
Ever persevering, Saberi came back years later with another offer that Vrandecic could not resist – just one pair of boots, no more, no less, designed and made together. I asked Saberi and Munoz about how this collaboration came about.
Q: How did you and Miguel first meet?
BBS: We first met when I was starting an accessories label called UCANFUCKW, in 2003 or 04. I knew that Miguel was beginning to make these amazing hand-crafted shoes and accessories also. So I thought, “Hey, I want to connect with this guy,” but he did not seem to have any time or desire to collaborate. I thought that was strange, but now I think I understand his decision better. We are all sensitive people and guard our hearts by guarding our work. I also think in this small community of artisanal designers maybe it’s better that designers are not close friends.
MV: We first met a long time ago, in Barcelona. I remember Boris contacted me. At that time I had already launched MUNOZ VRANDECIC, I think I was on my second or third collection. Very few creatives were experimenting on a similar direction from the one that I was on, I m originally a sculptor, so I was really not willing to open up to other designers at that time…. I thought that creatives should have to find their own universe without any influence from other creatives on a similar field. Until today I think this is the way to do it in order to obtain a creative work. So I didn t let Boris into my world. Fortunately, after some years I learned that Boris understood my point…
A: What prompted this collaboration?
BBS: In my opinion Miguel is the best shoemaker on the planet and I don’t know of any other who makes his shoes completely by hand, without help of any machines. He is a master in his field. My thinking is, if you can’t make the best yourself, go to someone who can, and this is how we met the second time. But now I had a clear idea of what I wanted, and he said yes. First time we really met, we sat and listened to old hip-hop records on vinyl and exchanged our life stories. We were both from other countries, he from Chile, I from Germany. Both grew up in a post-punk generation.
Afterwards, we had many discussions, sometimes easy, sometimes hard. We also had a lot of fun, and now I can say I also made a friend, contrary to what I said above! I hope this is a beginning of a long friendship.
MV: It was Boris’s second visit that let things flow. We met and talked a lot, got to know each other a little bit further, and really felt very comfortable with each other’s ideas about creation, about fashion, about life and music…
Q: Are there values that you both share that made this collaboration possible?
BBS: The obsession with making something amazing in our own eyes. Something that makes us happier than we were before, something you can’t stop looking at. Something you want to touch and smell and experience.
MV: I belive that we both love creation and challenges makes this loving alive. We really enjoyed working together and that s the most important thing for both I guess.
Q: Could you share some technical details about the product?
BBS: It was about a 50-50 collaboration from start to finish. He knows shoemaking, so he was able to put my ideas into a live form. I designed and explained, he designed and created the first prototype. Then we went back and discussed and changed. His thread, his needle, his vegetable-tanned cow leather for the sole, his sawing technique and welting technique. My own vegetable tanned horse leather for the upper. His unique hand-finishing process and my take on its esthetic. He gave me input – I gave him input. And that’s how it went.
MV: It was a complete fusion between Boris and I , of the important elements at the time of shoemaking from my point of view. The shape and volume was entirely created by Boris. The construction and pattern was my own contribution. A shoe is a three dimensional piece, so for me the fact of working on Boris’s mold was a unique experience. The material was chosen by Boris, the horse leather but processed and dyed completely in my atelier. At the end we obtained a very special piece, because our two universes melted together.