Fancy automobiles and slick high-end sunglasses rest at seemingly opposite ends of the design spectrum. You might be surprised to find, however, that the creative approach behind prototyping these products from scratch is not so different -- at least not for renowned 3D designer and MODO enthusiast Harald Belker.
For much of his illustrious 25+ year career, Belker's focus on automotive design has seen him develop everything from posh rides for major companies like Mercedes Benz and Porsche to futuristic autos for blockbuster films like Minority Report and Tron: Legacy. Over the years he's also branched out into designing other products, including toy racers for Matchbox and ANKI Drive, though a chance meeting many years ago opened the door to expanding his repertoire in a very different direction.
Belker bumped into Kaenon Polarized co-founder Steve Rosenberg at a BBQ, and the two hit it off. When the offer to design sunglasses came up, it seemed like a neat change of pace. "I thought 'why not? Sounds like fun,'" he recalls. "'I can always use a good pair of shades, and how cool would it be to wear one that I designed?” This spun out into a steady gig as Kaenon's exclusive designer.
Over the past 11 years, Belker has created more than 50 different frame prototypes, many of which have become staple sellers in the Kaenon line. This, of course, is also alongside many other projects design projects he's tackled across the automotive, film, and industrial design industries.
"I have always been somebody who likes design for the principle of creating something new," he says. "Working in film lets me do that to an extreme. One day I design planes, another I design weapons or spaceships. The beauty of designing a real product is that it has to work and succeed on a different level. I love the application of good ergonomics and believe good design has to make its function better and easier."
With sunglasses, half of the equation is style, but the other half is in how people wear it and how a sport frame performs under extreme use, Belker adds. "It's just another challenge, and I love challenges," he says. "So it is not that different than designing a car, at least to me it isn't. To me it is form language in either case. I approach it the same way."