Bethan Gray is a designer with a close link to heritage craft techniques – a collaboration with Rado applies these skills to a whole new discipline.
Born to a Scottish father and Welsh mother, Gray’s maternal family descends from a nomadic Rajasthani clan that migrated across Arabia and Persia. Inspired by her family’s eclectic past and fuelled by a curiosity about global art and culture, Gray has travelled in Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa and SouthAmerica, picking up techniques from master craftspeople.
Her designs have won universal acclaim, but it’s the alliance with Swiss watchmaker Rado that has challenged the designer on a new scale: a tiny one. As part of the watch company’s series of collaborations with talents including Jasper Morrison and Konstantin Grcic, Gray’s ‘True Thinline Studs’ watch – in a limited run of 1,001 (£1,560) – pushes the boundaries of watchmaking
‘I stopped wearing a watch with the advent of smartphones, but they are a distraction – you check the time and find yourself looking at social media and emails. In our digital age, there’s something appealing about an analogue timepiece. I was excited to work with Rado to design a watch for cool, confident women,’ enthuses Gray.
To even the untrained eye, the ‘True Thin line Studs’ is clearly a Gray design. The dial is created using a Middle-Eastern marquetry technique first used to form the starburst effect on her ‘Masirah’ table, and the decoration on the strap is reminiscent of her ‘Stud’ furniture (below). For Matthias Breschan, CEO of Rado, working with Gray was a natural move. ‘She is relentless in her pursuit of perfection,’ he says. ‘Her approach to design reflects Rado’s philosophy: if we can imagine it, we can make it.’ rado.com
TIME TO SHINE In 2018, Gray was a judge for the Rado Star Prize, the watchmaker’s annual search for the next generation of designers. If you are bursting with ideas, enter this year’s competition. The judge’s choice will win £5,000 to progress their design, while the public’s favourite becomes the proud owner of a Rado watch.
For details, visit radostarprize.rado.com/uk
This article first appeared in June 2019 issue of ELLE Decoration