People of neubau: product designer Sonia Serlenga
neubau eyewear isn't your typical anonymous label but a familiar brand with dozens of different faces and real stories to tell.
Stories about the love for high quality, strong design, innovation as well as personal experiences in Vienna’s Neubau district and latest discoveries in their neighborhood. Frame of Mind wants to introduce the people that make everything happen. An inside view of what’s happening behind the scenes. The second one in this series is Sonia Serlenga who’s working in the company for ten years already. When the Italian born mother of two isn’t designing frames like Sigmund, Diana, or Heinz, she finds her inner balance while passionately doing yoga. She’s a true creative with countless surprises yet to be discovered. Enough reasons to get to know her better…
What is your favorite part about your job at neubau eyewear?
Being a designer. The whole experience I’d say! I multitask continually. I love being curious about people and their unique styles: finding out that special detail that makes them more interesting. I am like a sponge. I observe reality and absorb information quickly and deeply: from design, to art, music, and food… And as soon as I take a new project I love to take a huge breath and dive deeply into it.
Is there anything people might not know about your job as a designer?
I love being isolated when I draw: I can really focus. I wear my big headphones and listen to good music. Each of my frames has its own special soundtrack.
From all the glasses you have designed, which one is your favorite and why?
They’re all “my children” and represent different periods of my life. It’s like connecting the dots in order to understand the big picture. They’re all part of a trajectory that you cannot imagine in advance, but it makes sense when you stop for a moment and watch with attention. Each project inspires the next. What matters is they are not static… Nothing is permanent and the style reflects the moment in which I live.
What makes a good design for frames? Is there anything particular you always keep in mind when designing?
With each new neubau design the key word for me is to be contemporary. Trying to sense the zeitgeist, finding out the “gift” of this present moment and translate it into a unique individual shape.
Do you have a certain process when designing?
“I don’t work… I only play.” That’s a quote I love and that’s how I design: I try to have fun in what I do. I open my eyes to all the beauty our incredible world has to offer and find my own way of translating this into my designs.
Occasionally something comes straight into my head, but the most important thing is feeding it with lots of visual material, it doesn’t matter if it’s good, bad or indifferent, but it is then a resource that provides the material that can be reassembled or used in different ways to make a new thing.
I don’t think any idea comes when I want it to. I guess there are ways in which my thinking evolves but it is usually more coincidental. Like seeing something while you’re thinking of something else and that then having an influence, a spark, so that your imagination does the rest.
Does the fact that you have Italian roots influence your designs?
Oh si! It is the legacy of us Italians to have an eye for beauty and an appreciation for the sensational they say. I believe what draws all Italian design together, is an inimitable sense of drama. And that’s what I like to play with when designing a new pair of eyewear for neubau. Looking good has always been a key aspect of Italian culture. Passion for fashion is our national passion!
But in general I’d say that ALL designers share the same passion, to simply create. It’s in our blood, not from the country we come from. There’s really no secret: follow your heart, put a part of yourself into the work to share with others. Let them see “YOU”.
You have two kids – what is your best tip for balancing a good work life with family-time?
A constant in my style and my life: the enthusiasm and energy that I infuse into what I love. I am always busy…that can be a good thing though, if you love what you do. My tip is to try to stay positive whatever happens – this world needs positive people!
Stay in the present moment. The present for me is something that you really have to live intensely because it’s a gift. Between family and my work life I cannot live so much in the past neither be transported in the future. I am now. This is my practice, something that I try to focus on and cultivate, day by day, like a small plant: the seed you water it grows and becomes a big tree eventually.
Apart from spending time with your family, what is your favorite thing to do or place to visit to relax and gain new energy?
I love to travel because it’s when I feel most alive. It always changes my perspective. Travelling makes me fall in love with my life over and over again. It is a time when I’m inspired to seek new adventures, to explore, to make new memories, to connect to our beautiful Earth and everything around me. I also love to practice yoga, meditate and being creative… I love to open my heart and my mind to the world, and find the things that connect with me.
What is one place everybody should visit in Vienna?
‘Harvest’ – it’s a nice cosy vegetarian bistrot I love to have long brunches in. I’m Italian, so I like moments when we all eat together. Conviviality to me is a very important moment in Italian culture: where there is food there is well-being. So, if you look for a contemporary place with excellent music choices and good food, that’s your place for relaxing and getting inspired on so many levels…
If you had to turn this place into a pair of glasses, what would it look like?
I would say it would be a unique contemporary shape like Frida for example.
If you could design a personal pair of glasses for anyone in the world, who would that be?
I’d love to design a pair of sunglasses for Xavier Rudd, an Australian singer, surfer and eco activist. He is a natural mystic, a beam of light pointing in the right direction… I love his music and the message he conveys through his lyrics (he had been the soundtrack for many of my neubau frames). He is a peaceful warrior inviting us all to move from separation to union.
GET TO KNOW THE PEOPLE OF NEUBAU: WE CAUGHT UP WITH PRODUCT MANAGER DOMINIK FÜREDER!