Vincent Laine: Designing the Leica Q

Q: How did you come to work for Leica and what is your exact job title?

A: It all started when I designed and published a future design concept for Leica during spare time in university. The project got a lot of exposure in forums and social media online, this is how I finally got in contact with Leica. Later I came to Solms for a visit and to present my portfolio for Product Management and after the meeting I got the opportunity to do my Master Thesis at Leica. After spending a couple months in Solms we all realized the Product Management could benefit from having an in-house designer, a while later I signed the contract. My official job title is Industrial Designer.

Q: Was the Q your first project?

A: Yes, the Q was my first “real” industrial design project, but my very first commercial work Leica was the 100 Year Logo and animation.

Q: When were you first involved in the project? What were the first ideas?

A: I was involved as soon as the basic components and architecture were developed. Early on, we were aware of the incredible performance and the most important thing for me was to design a product which not only embodies the performance but also gives the user control and ease of use. Because a relaxed mind is a creative mind. The thumb rest was an idea that was developed during my thesis. It all started with some hand made mock-ups.

Q: In what manner do the designers and developers collaborate?

A: First of all, I have to say that I consider myself truly privileged for having the opportunity to work with such a great team. We worked extremely close together during the development of the Q, almost to an extent where job titles disappeared and we were just a group of people trying to make the best product possible, but with great respect for each others fields of expertise.

Q: What should the camera look like? Would you describe the design more as retro/classical or a more contemporary design?

A: At Leica we have three design categories or directions: Iconic, Contemporary, and Professional. Iconic is what most people know Leica for and it is the M Design (Classic U-shaped bod, top cover-leather-bottom cover, etc.). Contemporary is the latest addition to our portfolio and was introduced with the Leica T. The last category is Professional and is everything S stands for basically.

Leica Q is definitely within the Iconic category but it has a touch of the contemporary in some details like the thumb rest, how the leather is cut, and the overall alignment of elements.

Q: What were the greatest challenges in the design of the Q?

A: For me every detail has the same value, regardless if it is the size of a radius or the choice of leather because in the end it is the sum of all decisions that creates the product. The hardest thing is to stay consistent throughout the complete process in every detail and not lose the core of the concept.

Q: What freedom does the designer have when it comes to the complexity of the finish and the materials?

A: I believe this might vary between projects but for the Q we had a general framework within which the team and I could move fairly freely.

Q: What was the concept behind the design of the Q’s accessories, the so-called leather ware?

A: As with the colour and trim concept for the camera, we wanted to make everything black and as discrete as possible. Therefore, the camera is completely black and has the small Leica logo. The same philosophy was adapted to the accessories. This time we also added additional function to the accessories; an example would be the leather protector, which allows you to change SD-cards while attached to the camera. It also holds an extra SD-card in the flap.

Thank you for your time, Vincent!

– Leica Internet Team

Read the interview in German here. To connect with Vincent, check out his LinkedIn profile.

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5 comments

  • For a first industrial design project out of school, Vincent gets an “A”. The thumb notch on the Q is brilliant!

  • I would like to see the Q have a faster mechanical shutter. If possible a smaller profile lens. Personally the macro mode is to me not a selling point. Hard to think of the long list of Leica photographers who would have made them even better because of a maroon option. I’ll sacrifice that for a more stealth but awesome lens. Thankyou. Also please. No Red Dot. Stealth.

  • The Red Dot is inside of the heart of Photographer. Be minimalist, clean, pure, is better. 😀

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