Dachstein | Christoph Döttelmayer

Dachstein designer, Christoph Döttelmayer recently sat down and dropped some gems with Sportalpen.com. In the interview, Christoph discusses everything from the brands re-birth, the design & development process when coming up with new styles and how the brand is positioning itself for the future.

Check out the full interview, below –
 

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We have not heard about Dachstein for quite a long time. When and how was the brand reborn?

It started about 2 years ago. Dachstein used to belong to Deeluxe Sportartikelhandels GmbH and in 2013 it was detached from Deeluxe as an independent daughter company by Austro Holding. Targeting a new position on the market we formed a new team of 9 members under the guidance of the new CEO Dr. Oliver Wieser.
 

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How does Dachstein’s long history influences the new market position?

I think it has a big influence. Dachstein is still known by many from the past, alone from it´s very successful times in ski sports. A heritage that started in 1925 contributes to our current position now and will be relevant in the future as well.
 

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What is your job at Dachstein?

I take care of the design, the development process and product management in general. You could say that I follow the shoe from the ideation, through the sketching and design phases to the finished model.
 

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Dachstein has a new face since it’s re-birth. How did you approach this process of a new beginning in the design department? What were the first steps?

At the beginning there was the consideration: What do we want to achieve with the brand and the products? Dachstein has a long heritage paired with innovation and passion. Our goal from the beginning was to transform every step in the mountains to a “unique step”. Mountaineering is not a competition for us, it´s a lifestyle. To illustrate this we teamed up with our two ambassadors Andy Holzer and Hannes Arch.
 

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The new design line will debut in 2015. If you look at them in detail you can find recurring components. Which elements and colors did you use and why?

We want to make a statement with the new design line. Here we are again! Dachstein is back and wants to secure it´s place on the market. The details make the design. Therefor we created elements that will appear in all future collections. These elements have different purposes in the single categories as well. The new triangle pattern, which was inspired by our logo, will be used as a ventilation function in our new approach model “Spürsinn” whereas in lifestyle shoes it will be used as pure optics. Also new are the color-blocking, the design of the flex zones and the new logo positions.
 

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How many models span the new collection and what connects them?

For 2015 we are introducing 10 new models for men and women in several colors. New is our crampon-compatible mountaineering shoe, which rounds up the collection at the top. Our goal is to create shoes “from the alps for the alps”. That’s for tours up to 4.000 meters of elevation. Additional highlights are our 90-Years-Collection and the Spürsinn, which was developed with our ambassadors Andy Holzer and Hannes Arch.
 

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The 90 years topic was surly not just picked on purpose. Why the return to tradition?

Foe next year in 2015 we have our 90th anniversary and naturally we want to celebrate it. That´s why we decided to create a whole collection around this theme, which spans from mountaineering to lifestyle.

The aim was to create retro products that have the optics of the past but mixed with the latest technology.
 

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What exactly can you recognize in the retro collection compared to the past?

There are certain elements from the past, which we incorporated into the new models with new materials such as neoprene and PU soles. You can also find the colors of the past with the special light brown and our traditional red. Our role models in the design process were the “Nordwand”, – many will remember from their childhoods – a light brown leather shoe with red laces which also sparks with its leather lining.
 

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What steps does a shoe follow in it´s development process from the idea to mass production?

After the base idea comes the ideation and research phase. Here we look for existing models and new materials that we could incorporate. This is followed by the design process where it´s not just about finding the form, but also to include new technologies and the perfect fit for the shoes. In our case we have to include our new design language. After all the red line should run through our collection. After the final design we start the development phase where we follow a trial-and-error process up to 4 sample building rounds. This takes up a lot of time especially if you work on a new form and style.

The next step is to present the models at trade fairs such as the OutDoor. After this we make further improvements, which result from testing in real alpine environment with selected testers. After this we start the production.

Such a process of shoe manufacturing can take up 2 years or longer.
 

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How long does it take to create a completely new design language?

Our new design language came to life during the development process of the 2015 models. Since then it´s an ongoing process.

How could you include your visions and ideas into the new collection and when did you have to back down?

At Dachstein I´m fortunate that my ideas are being realized almost every day.

You have to know that beforehand you have to think through the whole process pretty thoroughly. How do the models connect with each other? Which technologies do we want to use? How can we set a new step forward with innovation and to separate ourselves from the competition?

Of course sometimes we cancel certain designs or recommendations at our team meetings. It´s an evolution.
 

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How do the defaults of functionality affect the design process?

The demands for functionality are considered all the time specially early on in the design process where they melt together. This is also something, which sets Dachstein apart from others. We are a small team and do everything ourselves, focus, look after the process to the tiniest detail from beginning to the end.

How much influence do your ambassadors Andy Holzer and Hannes Arch have on your work?

A big one! Especially from such athletes you learn a lot and you get honest feedback. Andy and Hannes in their own way want to be the best in their domain. They strive for perfection and we try to create products to support their quest. The feedback you get from such athletes is quite different from the one you get from consumers. Our two ambassadors wear and test the shoes to their limits. If it really works for the athlete we can be sure that it also guarantees satisfaction and joy the regular consumer.
 

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How did you tumble into Hannes Arch and Andy Holzer?

Both write an unbelievably tense history and therefore emphasize our “Unique Steps”. Due to his handicap Andy has an incredible sensitivity and an extraordinary attitude towards life. He puts down every step with absolute consciousness and senses the terrain, in which he moves, with hands and feet. His abilities are extremely useful and therefor we could create the light and sensitive Spürsinn – Serendipity. Hannes originally comes from mountain sports. He is also Austrian and trains outdoors in the mountains. With his professional mountain guide skills he brings a lot of know-how to our development process.
 

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How can we envision the communication between the athlete and you?

At the first, getting to know each other I enquire the needs of athletes.

What do they want? Which products are they using right now and how can we improve them? With our “Spürsinn” for example we integrated these two pretty strongly. With this model we forged a completely new category between approach and trial running. It´s not always about how fast you get uphill, it´s about the path to the top. During the development I met with Andy and Hannes several times to get their feedback. Now we finished the test phase where they bring the shoe to it´s ultimate limit.
 

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The new design line was first introduced this summer at the OutDoor trade fair in Friedrichshafen- How did you present the collection?

The main eye-catcher was the 90 years collection with it´s three models Nordwand 2.0, Ramsau 2.0 and Johann & Anna. In comparison we also showed the old Nordwand model from the 1970´s. We also created a special presentation for the Spürsinn where we specifically showed it´s lightness and the exclusive co-developed Vibram outsole. Besides these highlights our booth was separated into our categories mountaineering, hiking, approach and lifestyle. In a press-breakfast with Hannes Arch we presented the new models to the media.

How were the first reactions?

I think very good.
 

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Which new developments are planed to establish the new face of Dachstein in the outdoor world?

Right now were are working intensively on the fall/ winter collection for 2015/16. For the sports category there will also be a winter version of the Spürsinn. Further more we are expanding our lifestyle range where we use traditional materials such as Austrian Loden. In 2016 we will continue on our new path. There will be extremely exciting topics for all mountain sport enthusiasts. To go even further into the future development we will start a “crowd sourcing” project with “ISPO Open Innovation” for 2017. There we will incorporate the input from consumers into our development.
 

CKLAB-AD3

Mr. Bailey

Product Designer + Footwear Architect | Founder of @ConceptKicks | www.MrBailey.co.uk

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