by Zohra KhanOct 01, 2021
“You need to be a good listener. Of course you make your soup and you sell your soup, but if you don’t listen, you go nowhere.”
– Marc Sadler
The force behind the first thermoplastic ski boots and an inventive safety jacket for motorcyclists—French-origin and Austria-born Marc Sadler (b. 1946)—tells us about his many adventures, fixations, and fallouts in this episode of UNSCRIPTED. Sadler, a four time winner of the reputed ADI Compasso d’Oro award, walks us through the soft side of his technical mind, the things that make him go week in the knees, and why he believes he has been lucky all his life.
A strange citizen of Europe as he calls himself, Sadler was born in Innsbruck (Austria) where he lived until the age of four before he moved to Strasbourg and eventually Paris. It was his opera singer mother’s creative streak and his father’s rather mechanical approach to things that gave way to Sadler’s choice of design as a career path. He graduated from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs Paris in 1968 after completing a course in industrial aesthetics (now known as industrial design) following which he co-founded the first group of associate designers in France with the Design Centre Premier. In this period, Sadler worked with reputed brands in the fashion design industry, such as Pierre Cardin and Ted Lapidus.
While he contributed significantly to fashion, what catapulted his popularity in the design industry and made him an international icon found roots in a personal tragedy that he recounts on UNSCRIPTED. A skiing maverick, Sadler fractured his foot in the early 1970s while he was on a ski expedition. The recovery period during which he was stuck to his bed for months gave him the idea of countering the common typology of leather boots with a design that immobilised the ankle in the boot. Already enamoured by the versatility of plastic carpentry, he found himself a solution in its materiality, and after several attempts, created the first recyclable thermoplastic ski boots which were eventually manufactured by Italian firm Caber (now known as Lotto). The product that went on to become the most widely sold ski boot in the world, Sadler says, “was too far, but I didn’t care because I had no experience. I was reinventing completely everything.”
In the mid-nineties, following successful projects within the sports sector with companies such as Nike, Dainese, and Ellesse, the focus moved towards lighting and furniture. Several collaborations with leading product manufacturers gave shape to path breaking projects for Sadler which include the Alukit kitchen and bathroom range for Boffi, the Mite and the Twiggy lamps for Foscarini, Drop rubber wall lamp for Flos, Big bookcase for Caimi Brevetti, and the Bellevue refrigerated counter with Panorama technology for IFI.
People ask me if there is something that I don’t like or I don’t eat. No, there isn’t. I eat everything. I am a bin.
On UNSCRIPTED, looking beyond work, the 75-year old designer looks back to the majestic personal journey he has had: from meeting his beautiful wife Paola 25 years ago and building a life together, to his 1967 road trip from Paris to India, his idiosyncrasies as well as a passion for painting and photography. Lucky as he says that he has been all along, always at the right place and at the right time, we find the soft undiscovered side of him in this 19 minute-episode.
Watch the full conversation by tapping on the cover video.
All photographs © Sadler Associati Srl, unless stated otherwise. Images may not be downloaded, copied, reproduced or used in part or whole without obtaining permission. The photographs in this video are not licensed for personal, commercial or public use, or use in the public domain in any form.
Curated by Pramiti Madhavji (Consultant, Content Adviser, STIR), UNSCRIPTED is a STIR-original series of quick-witted video interviews with leading design professionals who give us an undiscovered peek into their lives. A melting pot of quests, revelations and quirks, the series releases a new episode every Sunday as designers reveal unheard and unknown nuggets from their lives, in response to 30 questions.