A Watchword for Creativity15 November 2013
“I love toothbrushes,” Mika confesses, with the kind of gee-wow enthusiasm for unremarkable, everyday objects that only someone who truly values design excellence could. “I think Philippe Starck’s toothbrush is one of the finest things he’s ever designed. I love going into Japanese stationery shops,” he adds. “They’re like candy shops for me. I’m obsessed with objects that look completely normal, but for some reason make you feel different. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been like that. That’s why I love Swatch watches. I love the normalcy of them.”
Of course, the “normalcy” of the Swatch watch is relative. It may be a modern classic made of plastic and have a simple time-telling function, but conceptually, the sky has been the limit since 1985, when Swatch embarked on its very first, out-of-house design collaboration. Since then, the guest list of personalities from the worlds of art, fashion, film, design, music and photography invited to give the watch their own, highly personal makeover has grown. From eccentric Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar to British portrait and fashion photographer Rankin, all have been drawn by the expressive possibilities of “the world’s smallest canvas”.
Singer-songwriter, performer and relentlessly multi-tasking creative Mika is the latest to seal his love for Swatch by designing a watch, and is only the fourth musician to do so. It’s been a long and affectionate relationship for the 30-year-old, Beirut-born London resident, whose primary-coloured and expansive melodic pop songs have made him a global star. When he was a child his first watch was a Flik Flak, but as a dyslexic, Mika struggled with learning to tell the time. “From then on, I’d always be wearing lots of different watches at once,” he says. “On press shoots, everyone would always wonder why and the truth is, I can’t read them, so to me they’re just nice objects. I can admire the Swatch as an object, as opposed to being obsessed with its function. Because I can’t use them for the purpose for which they’re intended, they become almost like a decorative accessory — or just nice things.”