Designer Interview with Reinhard Plank
Italy’s avant-garde hat designer balances tradition, spontaneity and magic.
Reinhard Plank is representative of a new guard of hand-made craftsmanship. His passion and skilled expertise are juxtaposed by his modern aesthetic and penchant for experimentation. At the explorative age of 8 years old, he realized his true calling after making his first hat. Since that young discovery he has continuously evolved, creating classically based hats with innovate structural shapes and clean lines. He makes each hat by hand in his millinery studio in Italy, using locally sourced materials. Often times, Plank can be seen using abstract and off-the-cuff methods during the hatmaking process. Clips on instagram show him walking on rows of hats, and confidently cutting brims free-form without blinking an eye.
Why did you choose to design hats?
I didn't choose to become a hat designer, it was my nature. I created my first hat when I was 8 years old. For me, a hat is something that's in the air, it means lightness. With a hat you can feel different every day.
What did your first hat look like?
It was a wizard's hat.
How has your design evolved from that very first hat?
For me evolution is done through shapes and how one treats materials.
You can genuinely feel the hands of the craftsman in your hats – tell us about your process.
I usually use very classical materials such as felt, wool, lapin, straw, paper, etc., but i work a lot on the finishing by experimenting a lot on how to make a felt hat look like a unique piece .
What is your most important tool while creating?
Definitely my hands. My hands are the most important tools.
Whose head do you want to see your hats on?
I like the diversity of people. I think every head can have the right hat.
What is the upside to having your own brand and working for yourself? What are the downsides?
The upside is that I can express myself and my entire vision, and I can develop my aesthetic concept. The downside is that I have to think about so many things at the same time - thinking about the creativity is just the beginning.
What creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
Stopping somewhere, sitting in a bar or on a bench, looking at the environment, seeing what's going on around me and feeling the energy of people. People are pure magic.