If you have been following my blog for long, or even not long at all, you know that I like to stick to outfit posts and videos for the majority of my content. It has been rare that I break out of that mold, but when I was contacted by Roger Wood's team about his new product The RUBY, I knew I wanted to make an exception, as he is a Chattanooga native himself, and I support people rooted in small worlds going on to do big things, especially when that small world is in fact my own town.
Over the past few years, we've really seen wearable technology become a concept adopted by many, including the fashion industry which is a rather big deal considering that is a feat that many new products fail at. Allow me to make a Clueless reference, where the fashion industry are Cher and Dionne, who can't let just anyone sit with them - as if!- however, they do include the right newbies like Tai (ahem, wearable technology). The RUBY, is one of the latest of these devices, and I'm sure will turn out to be one of my favorites. It is designed as a brooch to be worn on your collar or lapel and will notify you when one of your friends within your self picked constellation of contacts texts or calls your phone. Being a brooch lover myself (proof here) because of their vintage/glamorous aspect the RUBY would fit easily into my style aesthetic, while keeping me from the annoyance of having to keep my phone in hand at all times.
Below, I have posted an interview with the designer, Roger Wood, given by Desiree Ontiveros, and would love to hear your thoughts on the RUBY and fashion forward wearable technology itself. Feel free to comment below or tweet me @dear_desirae_.
The New Frontier of Industrial Design: Fashion meets Technology.
We speak with Roger C. Wood veteran designer of ORION, a company specializing in fashion wearable accessories.
by Desiree Ontiveros
It’s Friday night, you and your group are on the move. So many parties to attend, so many people to see. Your bestie had a late flight back from business trip in San Francisco. This means your phone is likely resting on the table and you are frequently looking at the screen making sure she isn’t missed so you can join the festivities. As you engage with the rest of the group and continue to have the best time ever, looking at your phone becomes a distraction. The RUBY, ORION’s most buzzed about product is a fashionable solution to instant communication of the social set. RUBY is a crafted piece of luxury jewelry, designed as a modern architectural butterfly brooch. Fixed to your lapels or pockets as a luxury accessory, RUBY will notify you when our bestie has texted or called and at the touch of a button, so you can tell her exactly where we are sitting. We speak to Roger C. Wood, veteran designer in both the fashion and tech sector, and the design mind behind the product to find out how RUBY is going to change the way we communicate forever.
DO: RUBY seems like an advanced concept in both the technological and fashion stratosphere. Tell us in layperson’s terms how RUBY works?
RCW: RUBY is a luxury communications accessory, which we will fix to our lapels or pockets. Connected via an app to your phone, you will create a “constellation” of 45 of your most important contacts. It works on the Orion network. Imagine a beautiful version of Nextel or Virgin Mobile. It is wearable tech, but actually mid-luxury finish, on par with David Yurman or Alexis Bittar, two designers that I admire.
DO: Your promise seems to be that for busy professionals, the RUBY makes staying in touch more fashionable. What was your inspiration behind the creation of this device?
RCW: The inspiration behind RUBY has always been to keep people connected in a beautiful way. All three co-founders of the company thought deeply about the concept for years. There is now rule that says instant contact devices must be heavy, awkward and unappealing.
DO: How do you see RUBY being used on the Orion network?
RCW: We are connecting our products to a timeless human ritual. The first time you’re collaborating on a great project, you never forget that feeling, and we want to be a part of that. Whether it’s a small personal thing, like planning a surprise birthday party with friends or something big and glamorous, like working the press line at the Oscars. We want RUBY to be there with you.
DO: Let’s talk more about the beauty part. We love the sleek architectural design of the piece. Is there a specific piece of architecture that influenced the design of the RUBY?
RCW: It began with a whimsical notion, a kind of dream. I imagined a kaleidoscope of butterflies resting camouflaged on the side of a beautiful modernist building, like the Broad Family Art Museum. Then, two talented young designers Arlen Abraham and Sylvia Wu entered the design process. We traded sketches back and forth, sometimes adding and erasing each others lines. We’d walk through downtown San Francisco, looking for concepts, taking them apart, talking, sharing. A general design direction emerged, and a brand narrative flowed from it. I draw energy from the people around me. I draw more energy from Arlen and Sylvia than any other designers.
DO: The RUBY is such a fashion forward piece in the form of a brooch, which we think is the epitome of vintage luxury. Is there a person who is your style muse who directly influenced creating such a timeless accessory?
RCW: The spirit of Diana Vreeland inspires me. she wore brooches, and I think we need a new Vreeland to wear ours. Let me know which celebrities you have in mind!
DO: Who do you see as your modern day muse for the RUBY concept?
RCW: Maggie Betts is my modern muse. She is chic, fresh and classic all at once. She has the unstudied elegance of Amanda Burden, the dignity of Carolina Herrera, and the sunny charisma of a pop star. Her life, her style and her social sphere is the embodiment of the past, and future, of America. She is the spirit of RUBY.
DO: You went from the mobile phone industry to working in fashion. Tell me more about how those experiences merged to form the idea of the RUBY.
RCW: Many designers in technology project functionality, they’re trying to tell you how it works. That’s good. But, fashion accessories designers are trying to convey emotion through craftsmanship, concepts and heritage. The depth of emotion possible with a product like this is limitless because it focuses on keeping people together. We think the emotions you experience with groups are exhilarating, and RUBY is a vehicle to get us to those great emotions.
DO: What’s next for ORION Accessories? Are there plans for a new roll out of an entire collection? Earrings that double as earpieces, rings, watches, anything else?
RCW: You will have to wait and see until next season! We have an amazing team. When people collaborate as a group, they can do anything.
The RUBY launches in AW15. Prices will range from $400 to several thousand dollars. Please visit www.orionlabs.co for updates on the launch and to pre-order and start you very own constellation. Follow the RUBY story on social media @exploreruby #exploreruby