OBAKU creates timeless designer watches inspired from minimalism and simplicity, the two core values in the history and traditions of Classic Danish Design and the Asian Zen philosophy.
The inspiration behind every OBAKU watch comes from the classic Danish design tradition combined with the Asian Zen Philosophy that focuses on the essential things in life. It might seem difficult to blend traditions that originate thousands of kilometers apart, but thanks to our designers OBAKU has created a design where Nordic and Asian design idioms meet. A concept that is inspired by the root of both cultures and traditions – simplicity.
Each OBAKU watch is designed to look as modern and elegant ten years from now as it does today with a sense of calm and relieved of all superfluous details. All OBAKU watches are designed with the purpose of offering ‘Affordable Luxury’ using both a unique design and a keen sense of detail.
OBAKU’s watches don’t just tell time, they represent a feeling and a search for the optimal design. A simple and elegant object that represents the sheer beauty of basic materials.
Since the Viking age, Danish design has evolved from a basic mindset of creating a simple, durable and strong design, into helping elevate the fundamental standards of living through simplicity and functionality mixed with key elements such as: functionality, edgy/clean lines and a minimalist look.
Today Danish design is known around the world for its emphasis on function, the use of simple lines, the focus on good choice of materials and quality production – with the idea of ‘less is more’ as the main focus point. An Arne Jacobsen Egg chair or the Jorn Utzon Opera house in Sydney, still look as if they could have been designed yesterday, although it has been more than half a century since they were created.
Danish design serves many purposes, but most importantly it is designed to last a life time – this is also the key element in designing an OBAKU watch.
Obaku takes its name from a branch of the Zen philosophy that was founded in 1661 at the foot of Mount Obaku.
Obaku Zen focuses on incorporating a total togetherness of body and mind. It is a way of being – a state of mind. Obaku Zen tries to see things without distortion and to concentrate on the essentials created by your own thoughts and nature. In Asia the Zen philosophy has molded a set of basic values that pay tribute to simplicity and the search for the essence in life. Values that honor truth and calmness.
The idea that there should be a sense of calm and balance in the items we use to adorn ourselves, is what gave birth to Obaku. In Asia, Zen philosophies have given rise to natural simplicity – in both thought and act. Simplicity is often associated with Zen – and Zen practice is indeed simple, if not easy.
The OBAKU logo is inspired by the Zen calligraphic circle of life, also known as the Enso, which in Japanese means ‘circle’. It symbolizes strength, elegance and the universe and is an ‘expression of the moment’. The calligraphic Enso refers to a moment when the mind is free to simply let the body and spirit create.
One of the main driving forces behind the OBAKU collection is Christian Mikkelsen. Regarded as one of the best in the business, he graduated from the Danish School of Architecture in Aarhus with specialty in industrial design. Christian has been designing watches for more than 15 years and is internationally recognized for his minimalist and contemporary designs
Growing up in a family of high-end craftsmen, he was taught that the beauty of a product comes from the effort and consideration you put into every step of the development. It’s all in the detail - and the detail is the product.
“When I design a watch I think of it as much more than a time keeper. For me a great watch should be a joy to look at, to touch and to wear. It should bring an emotion that speaks to people and brings out an expression of their personality,” he says.
Lau Liengård Ruge
Lau has been a key part in creating the brand Obaku and he is designing most of what surrounds the watches. Lau Liengård Ruge trained as an industrial designer at the Aarhus School of Architecture in Denmark, and has been interested in the creative aspects of life ever since childhood.
“For me, the important thing is to produce a design that stands the test of time. I’m no fan of quick-fire, flavor-of-the month solutions. I want to really get to grips with a design, and focus my energy on bringing it to fruition,” he says, at the same time admitting that he is an incorrigible perfectionist.
“Being involved in creating OBAKU watches is a process that’s both exciting and interesting. As a designer, I am given free rein to put my personal fingerprint on my designs. I am very aware of the different effects it has when working with different materials,” he says. “The objective with my designs is to create products that people consider worth keeping.”