Posted by core jr
| 9 Sep 2014
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire (and part of this month's ongoing design-education spectacular). Previously, we talked to United Nude creative director Rem D Koolhaas.
Name: Josh Owen
Occupation: Industrial designer and design educator. I'm the president of Josh Owen LLC and a professor and the chair of industrial design at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Location: Rochester, New York
Current projects: At the moment I'm working on mailboxes for Loll Designs and new accessories for Umbra.
Mission: To design, educate and learn
Above: the 8125 calculator for Monroe. Top image: Owen and his Chiaroscuro Clock and XX Coatrack. Portrait by Elizabeth Lamark
Owen's cast-iron menorah for Areaware
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? As a kid I drew constantly, collected discarded items and built things out of them—but I did not know that these were design foundations. My father is an archaeologist and an historian. When I was growing up and he was engaged in fieldwork, I accompanied him on many of his archaeological excavations. I was always fascinated by the artifacts we unearthed and by the process of re-assigning meaning through materiality and context. In university I studied the fine arts and anthropology. Over time I came to realize that design was the combination of all of my interests.
Education: I have two undergraduate degrees from Cornell University: a BFA in sculpture and a BA in visual studies. The second degree was not an official major at the time but an independently designed area of study I created with a focus on anthropology and visual culture. After the above realization—that design is an amalgamation of aspects of anthropology, craft, technology and art—I went back to school to receive an MFA in furniture design from the Rhode Island School of Design in an effort to begin my career as an industrial designer.
First design job: I think my first paid design job was working as a freelancer in Aldo Rossi's New York studio with Morris Adjmi and Lisa Mahar.
Who is your design hero? There are many designers whom I greatly admire. That said, design by any definition has occurred since prehistoric times, leaving many of its greatest creators unnamed. To me, the true heroes are those whose products provided the archetypes we continue to build upon today.
Inside Owen's studio in Rochester
Posted by core jr
| 26 Aug 2014
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Umbra co-founder Paul Rowan.
Name: Rem D Koolhaas
Occupation: I'm a designer and the creative director of United Nude.
Location: I'm based in Guangzhou, China; that's where we have our studio. But I also spend a lot of time abroad. We have showrooms in Amsterdam and New York, and we have shops all around the world. And then I spend the weekends in Hong Kong.
Current projects: We're a seasonal business, so we're designing a new collection every few months. Right now we are also making what I would call an "art car"—it's basically a sculpture that you drive around, which is almost finished. In addition, we're doing a 3D-printing project with 3D Systems, where we designed a shoe for very small-volume 3D printers. That was launched at our store in New York earlier this month.
Mission: To make cool products, and along the way try new things and push boundaries. To be inspired and inspire others.
United Nude's 3D-printed Float shoe launched earlier this month. Top image: Koolhaas and the Biospiracy boot. Portrait by Rosanne Lowit
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? Well, I come from a family with a lot of designers. My uncle is an architect with the same name as me. My father was also an architect and my mother was a graphic artist. So I think I wanted to be an architect like my father basically from the very beginning.
Education: I have a master's degree in architecture from the Technical University of Delft in Holland.
First design job: While I was still a student, I worked at several architecture firms, including OMA; I worked on the Prada store in New York. And then, before I graduated, I had already started United Nude with Galahad Clark, who comes from the Clark's shoe company family. We were already in product development, and the brand was officially launched about a year after I graduated.
Who is your design hero? It's between John DeLorean, from DeLorean Motors, and the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.
The Biospiracy bootie (left) and boot are the latest designs in an ongoing collaboration between United Nude and Iris Van Harpen.
Posted by core jr
| 12 Aug 2014
Left: Rowan with his El Camino. Right: Umbra's Toronto headquarters and the Garbo trash can, designed by Karim Rashid
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Todd St. John of the Brooklyn studio HunterGatherer.
Name: Paul Rowan
Occupation: VP Inspiration and Co-founder, Umbra
Current projects: At Umbra, a steady stream of new design collaborations. Outside of Umbra, I work with Imagination Catalyst, an incubator funded by the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto. Each year, we work with emerging entrepreneurs to mentor and guide them with their inventions. One of my favorite new inventions is an eco-friendly washing machine that can be used without electricity.
Mission: To share my creativity
Launched last spring, Umbra Shift is a collection of everyday items by emerging designers. The Hanger Chair (above) is by Philippe Malouin.
The Cup Lamp by Paul Loebach (who previously answered the Core77 Questionnaire here)
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? When I was six years old, in my Dad's hardware store. The store gave me an applied arts education.
Education: I studied graphic design at George Brown College, Toronto. And industrial design at the Umbra University of Life and Business.
First design job: A brochure for a boat-line company in the Thousand Islands. Wonder if they're still using it?
Who is your design hero? After Mother Nature, it would have to be Matt Carr, design director for Umbra. The new line he created, Umbra Shift, demonstrates holistic design.
Also from Umbra Shift, the Nest Caddy by Umbra Studio, its in-house design team
Posted by core jr
| 29 Jul 2014
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to IKEA creative director Mia Lundström.
Name: Todd St. John
Occupation: Designer/illustrator/animator. Founder of HunterGatherer.
Current projects: We are doing some ongoing work with Pilgrim, which is a surf shop in Brooklyn run by a friend. We just finished up some animation for AM Labs, which is a cleaning-product company based in Denmark. And we're working on our own product designs.
Mission: Striving to make designs that seem inevitable
From Photo-Graphics, an ongoing series of cameras rendered in wood
Cover images for a Money Mark LP and the New York Times Magazine
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? When I was younger I was interested in too many things. At some point in school, when I understood what design could encompass, it really appealed to me. Since it was so expansive, you could do quite a number of things and still call them "design."
Education: My degree is in graphic design, from the University of Arizona. Later I taught a design class for 10 years in Yale's graduate program, and I feel like I learned quite a bit from the faculty and students there. I also absorbed a lot about woodworking and engineering from my father.
First design job: In school, my first "design" internship was in Hawaii, where I grew up. I worked for a small agency, doing illustrations for a local ice cream shop and coffee packaging and things like that. Out of school, it was for a small firm in San Diego, doing identities and packaging.
Who is your design hero? The answer to that question changes. But I recently read a Jim Henson biography, and I've always thought really highly of him and how he combined communication and fun and visual innovation in ways that do great things for the world.
Inside HunterGatherer's studio in Brooklyn
Posted by core jr
| 15 Jul 2014
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to the Italian designer Luca Nichetto.
Name: Mia Lundström
Occupation: Creative director, IKEA Sweden
Location: Älmhult, Sweeden
Current projects: I'm working with long-term home-furnishing priorities, in terms of how people live their everyday lives—their needs and their frustrations and the opportunities and so on. That's a quite big project that goes on all the time, but it needs to be updated and we need to have a product range for it and we need to make sure that the people developing and designing IKEA concepts really, truly understand the latest trends in society, so that we can cater toward them in a good way.
I'm also working quite a lot on some questions around the meeting with the customers in our stores. We want to create a much more vital interaction; we feel that we have been a little bit slow on the uptake with our showrooms and the impression of home-furnishing—that IKEA is a creative company and that we are in tune with society and trends and all that.
Mission: To create a better everyday life for the many people
A cabinet and pendant lamp from IKEA's new PS 2014 collection. (Last March, we interviewed six of the young designers behind the collection.)
When did you decide to pursue a career in design? Well, I'm not working with product design specifically—I'm working with, in a sense, designing the concept of home furnishing. And I've always been very interested in this. I started in the retail sector and one thing sort of led to another.
Education: I would say life and experience is my main education. Other than that, I went to Swedish primary and high school and took a couple of courses at art and design school. But no university; I have gone to IKEA university.
First design job: To design the bedroom department of a store in Stockholm
Who is your design hero? There are many. Estrid Ericson and Josef Frank are, of course, two of my favorites. I also admire some of the Danish and Finnish designers like Arne Jacobsen and Alvar Aalto. Among contemporary designers, I like Paola Navone and Ilse Crawford. There are a lot of women in my favorites, and I think that we sometimes have too few women in design. I could name many, many more.
Also from the PS 2014 collection: a wardrobe by matali crasset (left) and a storage table by Rich Brilliant Willing. (Read more about their contributions here.)
Posted by core jr
| 1 Jul 2014
Portrait by Lera Moiseeva
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Albert Chu of Otaat.
Name: Luca Nichetto
Location: I have two studios, one in Stockholm and another in Venice. So I have two teams and I travel back and forth. Normally I spend two weeks in Venice, two weeks in Stockholm and then one week who knows where.
Current projects: I'm working on a new sofa family for a Danish brand, as well as creating a new furniture collection with De La Espada. We showed several of the De La Espada pieces in New York last May, and we'll show the complete collection in Paris in 2015. I'm also working with several other clients that I've had long-time relationships with, including Foscarini and some Scandinavian brands.
Mission: Right now, I really like to think about design as not only a way to make products and to create profit, but also as a nice platform for creating community. Whether it's a small object or a big architectural project, after the idea has come up from your mind, you immediately start to have other people involved in it. And these people involve other people, so it quite quickly becomes a small community that's working based on your idea. And this means that design is a really good tool from a social point of view, because it can create work and opportunity, and also help people have beautiful things around them.
Above and below: the Elysia lounge chair, part of Nichetto's new furniture collection for De La Espada
Also new for De La Espada, the Stanley sofa and Laurel tables
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? To be honest, I didn't decide. I grew up in Murano, a small island close to Venice famous for the production of glass. From when I was a kid, this super-creative environment was normal for me. And I was lucky to have a good talent in drawing, so the natural step was to study in art school to design glass. After school I started to design some pieces in glass, but without the idea that this was a job, to be a designer. Then I met the art director of Salviati, a famous brand in Murano, and he asked me if I wanted to design something for them. I designed a series of vases that quite soon became best sellers for the brand. After that, I started to look around, thinking about what I want to do, and it was a natural step to work on lighting. So I started to work with Foscarini, and in 2003 I designed a lamp called O-Space that gave me the opportunity to make some money and to run my first small studio, and also to be recognized by other brands. There was a company from the furniture industry that approached me, and I started to think about what I was. And I discovered that I was just starting a career as a designer.
Education: I studied at the Institute of Art in Venice, and after that I studied industrial design at the University Institute of Architecture of Venice.
First design job: The vases that I mentioned before. Their name is Millebolle; I designed them in 2000 for Salviati.
Who is your design hero? I have many design heroes. I really love design; I'm addicted, in a way, to the process. Because design, in my opinion, is not only about making objects but it's also a kind of philosophy. So my heroes change depending on the time of my life. There are moments when I greatly enjoy the Scandinavian masters like Jacobsen or Wegner. Other moments I'm really into Castiglioni or Magistretti or Sottsass. And other moments I love the Eameses and Saarinen. It's really difficult for me to say I have one hero.
Torei side tables for Cassina
Posted by core jr
| 17 Jun 2014
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Giulio Cappellini.
Name: Albert Chu
Location: Los Angeles
Current projects: Expanding and refining Otaat's collection of leather accessories and developing objects for the home and office.
Mission: Paring down complexity to the fundamental beauty, utility and fun of simplicity.
Above: the Drums Clutch from Otaat, the minimalist accessories brand Chu started in 2010. Top right image: the Colla Card Holder
Toby Bag - Small
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? Throughout my childhood, I was always interested in thinking and making things, thanks to my sister who made nearly everything a fun creative process. So I was lucky to grow up in an environment where creativity and generative possibilities were the norm. When I was in high school, I applied to Cooper Union (architecture) on a whim and was unexpectedly accepted. That was probably the first time I thought seriously about design as a career, as I decided whether to attend Cooper or not. And I thought, "Wow, maybe I can actually do this for real!"
Education: I ended up going to UC Berkeley, where I got a Bachelor's in Civil Engineering, and then to Harvard University's Graduate School of Design for a Master's in Architecture.
First design job: First unpaid: atrium landscape design for my childhood home; my parents were nice and trusting enough to let me do it, especially since I was about six years old. I think it turned into a small field of kalanchoe with liriope as liners. Perhaps this was a precursor to my fascination with monochrome and textures (at least when the plants weren't flowering).
First paid job: In high school, I helped out at an architecture office doing some basic model-making work. The first project I worked on had so many arches that I learned really quickly how to cut curves in foam core—and learned that patience is key!
Who is your design hero? Martin Margiela—for his anonymity, his genre-bending mash-ups, his conceptual rebellion, his detail-oriented follow-through and his wit.
Above and below: Otaat prototypes in Chu's Los Angeles studio
Posted by core jr
| 3 Jun 2014
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Leon Ransmeier.
Name: Giulio Cappellini
Occupation: I'm an architect and the art director of Cappellini.
Current projects: I'm working on some new products for Cappellini, and also on two new showrooms for the company—one in Rome and the other in London.
Mission: I always say that my mission is to try to make people dream. That means that we try to do products that are good and nice and useful for others—but I think that really we have to work a lot on beauty, because nobody needs useful but horrible products. So I think that the most important thing in my mission is to try to make people smiling and dreaming.
The Peg sofa and table by Nendo are two of several new furnishings launched by Cappellini during last April's Salone Milan
Jasper Morrison's Elan sofa system was first released in 1999. Cappellini has now expanded the range for its 15th anniversary.
When did you decide to pursue a career in design? Since I was a kid. I think it started when I was six or seven years old, playing with Legos and making small drawings of architectural buildings or furniture. So, really, this passion started when I was very small.
Education: I studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, and during university I had the opportunity to work for one year in Gio Ponti's studio, which was a fantastic experience. I always say that one year with Gio Ponti was worth five years at the university. Then, after the Politecnico, I studied marketing at Bocconi University in Milan for one year.
First design job: When I entered the Cappellini company, it was a very small company, not working on design, just producing furniture. So I started by asking Rodolfo Dordoni to design some products for us, and I also began to take care of the art direction for the company.
Who is your design hero? Definitely Ray and Charles Eames, because when I see the Eames products after 50 or 60 years, they are still so contemporary and so beautiful. Also, when I look at the Eames house and studio—today, people like to mix different products and different styles, with different designs by different people, and really the Eameses started to do this 50 years ago, mixing traditional and contemporary design products. This idea of freedom was for me very, very strong.
This year, Cappellini began producing Shiro Kuramata's Steel Pipe Drink Trolley, designed in 1968.
Posted by core jr
| 13 May 2014
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Satyendra Pakhalé.
Name: Leon Ransmeier
Occupation: Industrial designer
Location: New York, NY
Current projects: I just launched the Chiaro chair for Mattiazzi. We are currently exploring new projects for Herman Miller, as well as for HAY.
Mission: It's a moving target.
Ransmeier's newest product is Chiaro, a wooden chair for the Italian manufacturer Mattiazzi.
Chiaro comes with or without armrests; both versions stack.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? I was 18 when I first encountered the radical, poetic design of the 1980s. This was 1997—I was paying a lot of attention to the work coming out of the Netherlands but simultaneously intrigued by early modernists like Aalto, Breuer and Prouvé. I remember I was reading Robert Venturi the day I saw the Robert Irwin installation at DIA in 1999, which blew me away. It was the tension between all of these approaches and languages that drew me in, and I still find inspiration in all of it.
Education: I graduated from the furniture design program at RISD in 2001.
First design job: Drawing 1:1 wooden chairs with a Mayline. We would spend up to two months on one drawing, send blueprints to India to be built, and receive the prototype in a crate eight weeks later. It seemed slow at the time, but in retrospect my projects are much slower now.
Who is your design hero? I am uncomfortable with the word "hero". There are too many interesting people to list. I often find inspiration in art and architecture.
The AGL Table Group for Herman Miller is intended to function equally well as an executive desk, a conference-room table or a dining table in a residential setting.
Posted by core jr
| 29 Apr 2014
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Eric Trine.
Name: Satyendra Pakhalé
Current projects: There are too many to mention, really. They're in industrial design mainly, and then in architecture and exhibition design as well.
Mission: That sounds quite heavy, but the humble way to say it is that I try to create work that is human.
Kangeri Nomadic Radiator, a mobile radiator launched in Milan earlier this month
Radiator photos by Tiziano Rossi, Italy. Portrait by Satyendra Pakhalé Associates
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? I grew up in India, at a time when things were not industrialized—and still in India things are not industrialized. So you make your own things. You don't go to a toy store to buy a toy; you go to pick up wood, go to a carpenter and make toys for yourself. You make what you want. And that's exactly what I do today, except maybe with better abilities and better resources. In that sense I never really chose to be a designer; it was just a natural progression.
But in terms of discovering the profession, there was a kind of beginning. I found a tiny book by George Nelson in one of the school libraries. I was sitting in the middle of India and I read that whole book and decided that was something I wanted to pursue.
Education: I studied design, first at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, where I got a Master of Design. And then I did a post-master's program at the Art Center College of Design Europe, in Switzerland.
First design job: Designing watches in India, which I quit in the first week. I was very eager to do things and maybe a bit too naive and too enthusiastic. I wanted to engage with the projects and they wouldn't let me. So I talked to the CEO and he said, "Oh, you might be able to design watches after spending six, seven, eight years here." As soon as I left his office, I wrote a resignation letter by hand, gave it to the secretary and walked out.
Who is your design hero? Design heroes in general for me are dangerous, because they could be limiting. I have trouble with that. I do admire lots of people, both historical figures and people who are active right now. But to call them heroes is a bit too much.
Inside Pakhalé's studio in Amsterdam. Photo by Satyendra Pakhalé Associates
Posted by core jr
| 15 Apr 2014
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Inga Sempé.
Name: Eric Trine
Occupation: Artist and designer
Location: Long Beach, California
Current projects: Right now I'm gearing up for New York Design Week. I'm doing a new version of my Rod+Weave chair with a brass-plated frame and dyed-blue leather—it will be like an Yves Klein blue, super-vibrant. And then I'm working on a collaboration with a fashion designer and illustrator named Ellen Van Dusen; she's making the fabric for a new chair that's in the works.
Mission: Taking the pretentiousness away from high design and making it more accessible to a broader audience. And also just being in people's homes with the work that I do—the mission is not to be in a design gallery or the MoMA gift shop but to actually get into people's living spaces.
Above right: Octahedron Pedestals in a spectrum of colors. Top image: a detail view of Trine's Rod+Weave chair
A lounge chair and leather-sling side table from Staycation, a recent collection by Trine and Will Bryant
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? When I started transitioning out of a fine-arts, sculptural practice and started making things for myself. About five and a half years ago, my wife and I got married and moved into our first place. I've always had "maker's chops," so I taught myself how to weld and I started making all the furniture for our place. That turned into making stuff for friends, and then it was friends of friends of friends. It just kept snowballing. And I recognized that there was something in me that was activated through more of a design practice than a fine-arts practice. But I'm still realizing that I want to be a designer; I'm still figuring it out.
Education: I got a B.F.A. in interdisciplinary art, and my thesis was sculptural—I made this house on hinges and wheels that could fold into 434 different positions. So even in undergrad I was talking about themes of the home.
Then for graduate school I went to the Pacific Northwest College of Art, in Portland. The program was called Applied Craft and Design. I was looking at schools that were in between industrial design and a traditional M.F.A.. I know I don't want to be a craftsman, and I don't want to be a fine artist. Design is somehow hovering in between those spaces; it can pull from each of those traditions, but it has, I think, a clearer set of criteria.
First design job: Upon leaving graduate school last year, I've been doing my own thing. So my first design job was basically running my own business as a designer.
Who is your design hero? Russel Wright. I discovered him completely by accident. I found a set of four folding chairs that he did for Sears in the 1940s or '50s. I got them for $15 each and I posted them on my blog, and someone was like, "Where did you find those Russel Wright chairs?" And I was like, "Who the heck is Russel Wright?"
So I looked him up and then continued to study his work. He's my hero because he had a strong connection to the consumer culture and broader culture of his time. The dinnerware that he designed in 1937 is still the best-selling dinnerware set in American history. It's called American Modern. Nailing that design and making it so amazing and successful and accessible that it was literally in every home in America—I love that.
He also wrote this book with his wife called A Guide to Easier Living, talking about the benefits of modern design in an almost theoretical or conceptual way. One whole page is dedicated to a quicker way to making your bed. So design for him was really connected to improving your life, and not improving it in a status kind of way but actually improving the way that you interact with your space.
Inside Trine's studio in Long Beach
Posted by core jr
| 1 Apr 2014
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Jonas Wagell.
Name: Inga Sempé
Occupation: Product designer
Current projects: In Milan, I will present a pinboard called Pinorama, designed for the Danish company Hay. It's a metal grid with rectangular holes and cork, so you can pin items in the cork or hook items in the grid, or you can add accessories like shelves and a mirror. It's a kind of "wall furniture" that acts as storage for daily things like keys, papers, pictures. It can be put in an entrance, for instance, or in an office.
Also with Hay, I will also show some archive boxes that are made from cardboard, with a special lid like on letter boxes that allows you to insert your papers without opening the box. There is also a drawer in it, so that when you really want to organize your papers, you just pull the drawer out. The boxes come in different sizes and they are covered with some special patterns that I designed.
Mission: "Mission" sounds really Catholic, and I'm not Catholic. My job is to design objects that are easy to use and nice to see and possible to produce. This is the sum of industrial design. So there is a kind of trinity, with use, beauty and producibility.
A new line of blankets for the Norwegian company Røros Tweed. Photo by Erik Five
Sempé in her Ruché armchair for Ligne Roset, released last year
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? I never really decided, but I was always attracted to it. As a child, I was always building objects, and I was always looking at objects and thinking about the people who had conceived them, and imagining all the difficulties they had to find good solutions. But I didn't know about being a "designer" until much later.
Education: I studied in Paris at a small public university for industrial design called ENSCI.
First design job: Working with Marc Newson in Paris for six months. I learned a lot from him, because he has a really strong technical knowledge and spirit. When you're a student, you don't realize the hard realities of producing objects, of making them really exist. With him, I learned that.
Who is your design hero? I'm really against that. I can't have a design hero if I haven't met this person. So, for instance, of course everybody likes Castiglioni or Vico Magistretti, but as long as you don't meet people in real life, maybe they are good designers but bad people. So they couldn't be my heroes.
In fact, I'm not a fan—I don't have the spirit of a fan. I was always interested in objects but not that much in the personality of the people who designed them. I never read books about designers. My knowledge of objects comes from the flea market, where there are no names.
The Ruché collection also includes a sofa (above) and a bed (below)
Posted by core jr
| 18 Mar 2014
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Mathieu Lehanneur.
Name: Jonas Wagell
Occupation: Architect and designer
Current projects: There are many, but a couple worth mentioning are a line of glassware for the German company WMF and a desk lamp for Design Within Reach that should be launched in October. It's our first project together. Next weekend I'm going to Taipei to look at prototypes, which is quite exciting.
Mission: What I try to do is basically make a simple, intuitive product—something that's not too complicated and not decorative, but that can be used every day. That's the aim. For instance, with kitchenware and tableware, I don't think there should be "fancy" plates and glasses; it's much more interesting to make stuff that's actually being used all the time. So I suppose that's my niche.
Left: Wagell's Cloud pendant for Bsweden. Right: Punch, a recent lighting prototype
Prego, prototype serving utensils in molded plastic
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? I decided fairly late. I studied economics in high school, and although I was always really fond of drawing and painting as a child, I had almost forgotten about that. Then, when I was around 18, a friend of mine started studying graphic design, and I realized that was really interesting. So I started to study graphic design as well, when I was 19 or 20.
Education: I studied graphic design for a year, then I started working. After a while I switched to working part-time and going back to school part-time. First I studied communications and marketing for a year, then I went to Konstfack for five years, for a Master of Fine Arts.
First design job: After studying graphic design, I got a job at an ad agency in Stockholm—first as a graphic designer, but then quite soon I became a project manager. That was my first and only job before going back to school at Konstfack.
Who is your design hero? I don't really have a design "hero"—I think that's a big word. But I appreciate what Ettore Sottsass did with the Memphis movement. That came after the functionalist moment in design, and they did a lot of things that were more artistic—basically, where the aesthetics of the object were one of its functions. I think that's still relevant.
I also admire the Castiglioni brothers, although their work is almost the opposite of Memphis. They made a lot of functional items, but they also made a lot of experiments and tried out a lot of things that act as a sort of commentary on design.
The Tonic armchair for Mitab
Jack, a prototype desk lamp made of flat panels attached with phono jacks
Posted by core jr
| 4 Mar 2014
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Misha Kahn.
Name: Mathieu Lehanneur
Current projects: I just launched a radio for Lexon named Hybrid, and I'm working on new meeting spaces for Pullman Hotels. I recently won a competition for the interior design of the Grand Palais in Paris; that will be a project of maybe ten years in the works. I'm also working on new spaces for the luxury watch brand Audemars Piguet during Miami Art Basel. And I'm working on a project that will be launched next July in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It will be a place named Le Laboratoire that includes a cafe, a restaurant, a store, an auditorium and an art gallery. It will be just between Harvard University and MIT.
Mission: To be as close as I can to the human beings I work for, and not to consider them as "targets" or "consumers" or "clients" but as very complex machines—as human beings are—and try to find the best way to serve them.
Above and top right image: Lehanneur's Business Playground for Pullman Hotels. Portrait by Jean-Luc Luyssen / Madame Figaro
Wiser, a collection of devices that measure and manage household energy consumption
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? When I was probably 15 or 16. Basically, I wanted to be an artist, and my father was an engineer, so I decided to combine both visions.
Education: I went to design school in Paris, at École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle (ENSCI Les Ateliers). I was supposed to stay for five years but I ended up spending seven years there.
First design job: Actually, the day after I graduated, I decided to work without any boss, because it's not easy to share vision. So my first job was as a freelancer for the Palais de la Découverte, a science museum in Paris. I was commissioned to design all of the interactive devices for explaining astrophysical phenomena to the public.
Who is your design hero? Probably Buckminster Fuller. He was a thinker, a scientist, an architect, an engineer—a designer, basically.
One of Lehanneur's employees in the designer's Paris studio
Posted by core jr
| 18 Feb 2014
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Karim Rashid.
Name: Misha Kahn
Current projects: Right now I'm producing a series of lamps for a room made by Bjarne Melgaard for the Whitney Biennial.
Mission: I think that, especially in the U.S., we have such a rigid aesthetic view of how things get built and constructed, and it can be very constraining. So I'm hoping to help infuse the material culture with a little more looseness and an easier, more accessible way of making things.
Above: Misha Kahn. Top image: Kahn's Neon Table
Kahn's Pig Bench, made with urethane resin and layers of trash
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? I think, for most people, you kind of stumble into it, because there's not much else that you could be. I dabbled in a lot of things. As a kid, I liked to make Claymation films, with lots of miniature furniture. I also like making clothes a lot, and I segued into making furniture at school. For me, furniture is a really nice scale to work on. You can make it by yourself or with a few people—it's kind of the largest thing that's possible to realize in a very tangible way.
Education: I mostly went to RISD—that's where I got my furniture degree. I also did a Fulbright right after school and took some classes at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design.
First design job: My first internship was doing windows at Bergdorf's, which I think had a weird amount of influence on me.
Who is your design hero? I promised my roommate/partner-in-crime Katie Stout that I would say it's her. We're both working in a similar vein, so it's very consoling that there's someone else who sees things in much the same way.
A table from Kahn's Geometric Figures and Solids series
Posted by core jr
| 4 Feb 2014
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Moritz Waldemeyer.
Name: Karim Rashid
Occupation: I am a designer—industrial design, interiors, architecture, graphics, art . . .
Location: Hell's Kitchen, New York City. But that's new for me. I just renovated an office here; we moved in four months ago. I was in Chelsea for 20 years, so it's a big change.
Current projects: Right now I'm working on the architecture of seven buildings around the world—four in New York, one in St. Petersburg, one in Latvia and one in Toronto. And then in industrial design, I'm doing everything from branding for new drink bottles to lighting, kitchen design, jewelry, perfume bottles, and lots of furniture.
Mission: My number one mission in life has been to make design a public subject. To basically preach to the world how design not only shapes a better life, and shapes our future, but how it has a huge impact on our physical well-being.
Rashid's recent product designs include the Bruno lamp for Verreum (above) and the Hooka for Gaia & Gino (below), both from 2013.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? My first inkling of that was when I was about five years old in London with my father. He's an artist, and he used to take me to sketch churches. We were drawing, and I looked up at these Gothic windows, and I started changing the shape of them, making them into ovals. My father looked at my drawing and showed me that I wasn't drawing the shape I was looking at. But I had this weird little epiphany that, oh, I could decide to change the windows if I want. So that was a really abecedarian moment of feeling like I could have some impact or control in shaping the world I'm looking at.
Education: I studied industrial design as an undergraduate at Carlton University in Canada, and then I did graduate studies in Naples, Italy.
First design job: Between my third and fourth year of university, I got a summer job designing business telephones at Mitel, in Canada.
Who is your design hero? Naming one is impossible. It's like saying, What's your favorite song? Let me just name a few people that I think had a great influence on me. Luigi Colani. Ettore Sottass, whom I studied with. Joe Colombo. Philippe Starck. George Nelson. Charles Eames. I remember having a Buckminster Fuller lecture when I was at university—that was a huge inspiration for me. Victor Papanek, he was a professor of mine too. And one more I have to add is Marshall McLuhan, whom I also studied with for one semester. He made me realize that design has to embrace theory—that we're not just doers, we can be thinkers.
Rashid's recent interiors include the Amoji Food Capital in Seoul, completed last spring. Photo by Lee Gyeon Bae.
Rashid designed the exhibition Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture, on view at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto until March 30. Photo by Philip Castleton.
Posted by core jr
| 21 Jan 2014
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to the Belgian designer Sylvain Willenz.
Name: Moritz Waldemeyer
Current projects: We've just delivered two really big ones. We've done a big chandelier in a new hotel in Davos, Switzerland. And then in Milan, there's a department store called La Rinascente; it's a beautiful historic building right next to the Dome, and we did the whole front of that for Christmas.
Mission: To create a new aesthetic with and for technology. It's bringing together these two different disciplines—the arts and technology—that in the past didn't really match up. They used to be very separate, but now it's interesting to see how they're merging in the world. And I'm trying to help with this merger.
For Milan's La Rinascente, Waldemeyer created a WinterWonder installation with 1,300 laser-cut snowflakes
Waldemeyer's Wave Chandelier for the Intercontinental Davos
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? It's almost as if it chose me rather than the other way around—as if there was a gravitational pull in that direction. There was never one moment when I decided, "Oh, I'm going to be a designer." It was a gradual trajectory.
Education: First I went to study international business. Then I changed to engineering. I did mechatronics—mechanical and electronic engineering—at Kings College, in London. After I graduated from engineering, that's when this design path started, which pulled me into the more creative disciplines. But I'm very happy about this engineering base, because it's just such a good foundation to build on.
First design job: I started out working as a research scientist—at least, that was my job title—at Philips. I was working in a very forward-looking area where they brought together a lot of different disciplines. That was the first time that I worked in this intersection between technology and design.
Who is your design hero? Maybe Leonardo Da Vinci, because he was one of those first multi-curious people who really can't be labeled. He would just look at anything that was out there, and it was all like one big art to him. I think he must be the ultimate hero in that respect.
Above and below: Revolution, a lighting installation for the Wallpaper* Handmade exhibition in London last October
Posted by core jr
| 7 Jan 2014
Willenz and his Profile chair
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to the lighting designer Bec Brittain.
Name: Sylvain Willenz
Occupation: Industrial designer
Current projects: At the moment we are working on a variety of things. It's mainly chairs and lighting, which are products that I have a strong interest in. And then there are some complementary accessories as well, such as tables and mirrors, for example. We are also working on a number of textile-based projects using several techniques; this is an area that we are developing and in which I enjoy working.
Mission: To design useful things that people will enjoy using. But also to contribute to the company that is making these things. So I'm not just concerned about the end user; I'm also concerned about the context of the product and it being something interesting and viable for whoever's producing it.
Drop is a simple, affordable, injection-molded-plastic bucket designed by Willenz for the Belgian housewares company Xala.
The legs of Willenz's Candy tables are steel rebar like that normally found on construction sites.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? I guess when I was around 18 and I discovered that this profession existed. At first I wanted to be an illustrator, doing comics. Then when I discovered that you could actually design things and objects, I got really interested in that. But I believe that I have kept my interest in comics and sort of translated it into objects. Because I've always had a really strong interest in drawings—in drawing myself, in other people's drawings, in comics, in how you can simplify reality into a drawing. And I liked the idea of doing that with products, of making sort of three-dimensional sketches that are resolved in really functional and useful objects.
Education: I studied in the UK. I did a B.A. in three-dimensional design, and then I did a two-year masters course at the Royal College of Art in London, in what they called Design Products, rather than product design. That was something that Ron Arad had put into place when he started as the director of the course. I believe he thought it was more interesting to turn things around and call it Design Products, because it opened the possibilities of what you could design.
First design job: The Brackets Included shelf, which was my graduation project and which went into production a year later, in 2004, with a company that no longer exists—and which now, ten years later, has been put back into production by Wrong For Hay in a revised design. The design concept is still the same, but we refined it and tuned a few details. It's much nicer now.
Who is your design hero? There are many designers I admire for obvious reasons. Philippe Starck would be a major one, because I think he's a fascinating mind. Not that I necessarily like what he does in terms of his work and style and products; not that I necessarily agree with everything or understand everything that he does—but I do think he is a profoundly interesting mind.
The Profile chair and table
Posted by Mason Currey
| 30 Dec 2013
Piet Hein Eek even enjoys doing administrative chores.
Core77 2013 Year in Review: Top Ten Posts · Furniture, Pt. 1 · Furniture, Pt. 2
Digital Fabrication, Pt. 1 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 2 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 3 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 4
Insights from the Core77 Questionnaire · Maker Culture: The Good, the Bad and the Future · Food & Drink
Materials, Pt. 1: Wood · Materials, Pt. 2: Creative Repurposing · Materials, Pt. 3: The New Stuff
True I.D. Stories · High-Tech Headlines · The Year in Photos
Over the last seven months, I called up 15 successful, respected designers from around the world and asked them each a set of 22 questions about their backgrounds, their current projects, their working habits and their thoughts on design. In the course of conducting these interviews—which we dubbed the Core77 Questionnaire—I noticed a handful of themes begin to emerge. Even though I talked to designers with a wide range of backgrounds and work experience, many of them had remarkably similar answers to several of our questions. So as part of Core77's year-end review, I wanted to highlight these outstanding themes in the form of the following six insights into the design mind.
Designers Don't Procrastinate
One of our 22 questions is "How Do You Procrastinate?"—and I was truly surprised by how many designers were incapable of coming up with an answer. As a writer, procrastination is an integral part of my daily routine; successful designers, by contrast, seem to actually want to do their work. Either that, or they just have a lot more self-discipline. As Paul Loebach said: "If I'm going to work, I'm going to work. And if I'm not going to work, I will take a vacation." Marcel Wanders can't bear to have work hanging over his head: "For me, procrastinating equals suffering," he said. Sandy Chilewich said the same thing: "Procrastinating, for me, is extremely painful. I'm really not having a good time if I feel like, 'Shit, I should really be doing this other thing.'" Ditto Paul Cocksedge, Piet Hein Eek and Sam Hecht. Even those designers who did come up with an answer really had to think about it first—none of my interviewees could imagine indulging in frequent bouts of work avoidance.
Designers Think Most People Don't Understand What They Do
This was another common theme, and it came up mostly in response to the question "What is the most widespread misunderstanding about design or designers?" Over and over, our interviewees said that the general public basically has no idea what industrial designers do. Here's Ayse Birsel: "No one knows what we do. Fashion designers they get, but with product design it's like, 'What's that?' And then people say, 'Oh, so you style stuff? Or you engineer stuff?' And I'm like, 'Neither.' There's no easy answer."
Sam Hecht answered similarly, noting that because "design means so many different things now," the term designer has become almost useless. (When asked what he does, Hecht prefers to say, "I make things.") Fellow Londoner Paul Cocksedge agreed, saying, "It would be wonderful if there were another word besides designer, but I don't know what it would be." And Adidas's James Carnes suspected that "people would be absolutely amazed by the depth and breadth of a designer's daily work."
Posted by core jr
| 10 Dec 2013
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to the Finnish designer Harri Koskinen.
Name: Bec Brittain
Occupation: Lighting designer
Current projects: Our latest project is the Twin Vise, which is a new iteration of a light that launched last spring. It's these two hand-blown glass globes that are held in place with a metal infrastructure. The "twin" bit is that, in turning it from one globe to two, it's actually sharing an infrastructure and it looks like a twinning crystal or a splitting cell. I'm very excited about it.
Mission: To make things that people would want to keep around for a while. I am very influenced in how I approach objects by my grandmother. She collected a lot of things, and it didn't quite matter whether they were contemporary or older; she just put them all together in her house and they looked amazing. I think about how happy I am now to have a few of her things, and I'm very aware of how old these objects are but in what good condition they're in. So I want to create things that are well made enough that they could be passed down to grandchildren, and that are timeless enough that a grandchild would even want them.
The Vise pendant (above) was released last spring. Brittain recently developed it into a new iteration called Twin Vise (below).
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? I came from a family of makers, and I always knew I was going to be some sort of maker. It went from maybe being a fashion designer to maybe being a product designer to architecture—there was a winding road. It was when I started working in metal for a hardware company that I realized that I really love metal, and that was a guiding force.
Also, working at Lindey Adelman's was really helpful, to see her business model and experience making things to order. Making small things and being able to concentrate on them—essentially, being able to do product design while side-stepping the mass-production element of it—that's what led me to doing this, to doing small production in metal and to dealing with light.
Education: I started out at Parsons, but I left there after a couple of years because it wasn't a good fit. Instead I got a philosophy degree at NYU, and then I got an architecture degree at the Architectural Association in London.
First design job: Well, I worked for an interior designer all through my undergrad years. But my first graduated, adult job was working for the architecture firm Work AC as a project designer. I was on a project for Anthropologie; they wanted a new, crazy concept and were trying to refresh the brand, so that was my project for a year.
Who is your design hero? I'm going to go with the Dutch artist Madelon Vriesendrop. She's just really great. She doesn't take it all too seriously, but she's a smart cookie.
Inside Brittain's Brooklyn studio
Posted by core jr
| 26 Nov 2013
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Fred Bould of Bould Design.
Name: Harri Koskinen
Occupation: I'm a designer.
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Current projects: At the moment, we're doing a lot of work with Finnish-based companies. We are doing work in the safety field, creating some locking systems. We're also doing tableware objects, and we have some material-based studies in the works—these are innovations with new materials, and we are doing some trials in our workshop around those. Then I also share my time with Iittala; I'm there two days a week as the design director.
Mission: To do my best. I would like to have a big, big mission, but at the moment I'm doing things a bit more slowly, step by step, just trying to do my best in this design field.
Koskinen's most recent projects include the Cyclebar bike rack for Valpastin (above) and the M Series two-way active speaker for Genelec (below).
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? I never actually made a decision that someday I was going to be a designer. It just happened. I didn't have any idea about this profession when I was in high school. But I worked with my uncle over many summers, building things with him as a summer job. I felt quite happy doing this, working with my hands. So I thought that design would be something that connects many different interests and skills. And it has been like that, pretty much.
Education: First I studied at the Lahte Design Institute; that was more like workshop studies. Then I applied and entered the University of Art and Design in Helsinki. There I studied industrial design and more conceptual design.
First design job: Well, I worked as a intern at some advertising agencies. But my first actual job as a designer was in 1996, when I was invited to work for Iittala glassworks. And then I was invited to work as an in-house designer at Iittala in 1998.
Who is your design hero? Maybe Dieter Rams—he was perhaps the most important for me. Also Richard Sapper. And, of course, in Finland we cannot forget Alvar Aalto. He's an obvious choice, but still it's amazing the amount of work that he made at a really high-quality level.
Above and below: Some of Koskinen's designs in his Helsinki studio, including his Genelec speakers and subwoofer (above)
Posted by core jr
| 12 Nov 2013
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to the London-based designer Benjamin Hubert.
Name: Fred Bould
Location: Silicon Valley
Current projects: At the moment, we have some connected devices, robots and housewares. Since this is Silicon Valley, I can't say anything more about them than that.
Mission: My personal mission is to be the best designer I can be.
Bould Design's consumer-technology products include the Roku 2 streaming player (above), the Logitech Squeezebox portable Internet radio (below), and the GoPro Hero3 camera line (bottom).
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? I was a freshman premed student at Carnegie Mellon University when I discovered the school of design there. I didn't know the profession existed, but I had been creating things since I was old enough to hold a tool. Once I found out that there was this thing called design, I transferred into the design school as soon as I could, and I've never looked back.
Education: I did the Bachelor of Fine Arts in industrial design at Carnegie Mellon. Then I worked for three years, and during that time I came to the conclusion that I could be a much better, more effective designer if I had some engineering chops. So I went back to school at Stanford and did the M.S. in product design engineering.
First design job: My first real design job was a summer internship at Henry Dreyfuss Associates.
Who is your design hero? Well, I have a lot of them. But I would say that Isamu Noguchi holds a particular fascination for me. I really enjoy the quality of his work and his sense of craft.
Inside Bould Design's Silicon Valley studio
Posted by core jr
| 29 Oct 2013
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Sam Hecht of Industrial Facility.
Name: Benjamin Hubert
Occupation: Industrial designer
Current projects: Most things we can't talk about, but we're working on everything from furniture and lighting to smaller desktop objects and interiors and installations and wallcoverings. It's a very large range.
Mission: To create objects that solve problems and are innovative.
Launched during last September's London Design Festival, Ripple is the world's lightest timber table—it weighs only 9 kilograms, or just under 20 pounds.
Ripple is made by corrugating plywood through pressure lamination, a process developed by Hubert with the Canadian manufacturer Corelam.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? When I was 18. It was a decision at school to continue studying design rather than art, and I made it by choosing a course at university in design.
Education: I studied industrial design and technology at Loughborough University.
First design job: Being a design intern at a company called DCA
Who is your design hero? I don't really think about things like that. We tend to think about things outside of our industry, and we don't focus too heavily on what people have done and what they're doing. So I wouldn't say we have a hero.
Hubert's new Pelt collection for De La Espada includes a chair, stools, and a shelving system, all of which feature a thin plywood shell wrapped around a solid ash frame.
Posted by core jr
| 15 Oct 2013
Hecht in Industrial Facility's London office. Photo by Hello Design.
Name: Sam Hecht
Occupation: I'm a designer.
Current projects: We're working on a new paradigm of the office—so that's office furniture. We started working on that about three years ago, and we're still working in that area. We're also working on some new electronics and domestic appliances, and some reinterpretations for the home, like chairs and those sorts of things. And we're now also involved in some medical devices.
Mission: To serve people, primarily. We design partly autobiographically but primarily for other people. And we see companies and industry as a relevant conduit to people. We tend not to design for galleries or limited-edition scenarios but much more for mass production, which means that, invariably, the complexities are very big because the responsibilities are multiplied. Just one improvement in this world can be hugely impactful.
Industrial Facility's Formwork series of desk accessories, designed for Herman Miller, debuted at last month's London Design Festival. Photo by Milo Reid.
Hecht and his partner, Kim Colin. Photo by Hello Design.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? Well, I was not very good at school. But I was always very good with my hands. My father had a business selling electrical products. I started to work for him very early as a child, repairing things that customers brought back—everything from kettles to toasters to irons to radios, from all different types of manufacturers. And I enjoyed that very much. I was very good at it; I understood everything about components and soldering and boards and these sorts of things. And then my mother came home one day with a book on industrial design, and I found that maybe that is my entry point into the world. So that's why I started to think about going into design. But I was told I had to go to art school, so I studied art first.
Education: I studied fine art first of all, and then I studied industrial design at Central Saint Martin's and then at the Royal College of Art.
First design job: Making instruction manuals for flat-pack furniture. It was a job where I was still at a drafting table—there were no computers. I wore a shirt and a tie, and it was all very, very boring. Incredibly boring. I can't even describe to you how boring it was. People from the design office were not allowed to go into the factory, and they told me to leave after I was found there too often. I only lasted six months.
Who is your design hero? I don't really have design heroes as such; certainly I don't have design heroes that are alive. Not that that means there aren't any great designers; there's some fantastic ones. But I tend to move toward architecture, where I'm fascinated by architects such as Peter Zumthor and Wiel Arets. I don't really have a feeling that I'm moved by the world of design as much as by some other disciplines.
The Passport Memo for Muji. Photo by Industrial Facility.
Posted by core jr
| 1 Oct 2013
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. We'll be posting a new interview every other Tuesday.
Name: Brendan Ravenhill
Occupation: I'm a designer—everything from products to furniture to lighting to interiors.
Location: Los Angeles
Current projects: We self-produce four distinct lighting families that vary in range from sconces to chandeliers, and from elegant to practical. We're developing a new family of lights for winter 2014, in response to a number of inquiries we've gotten for even more dramatic fixtures that are designed to be adjustable. We hope to preview the line this fall.
We're also currently designing barstools, tables, banquettes and chairs for several restaurant projects, and developing a new cast bronze bracket that can be used in a number of different configurations. The bracket grew out of a meeting with a talented metal caster here in L.A. When we find a local manufacturer to work with, it often starts a whole creative process of figuring out what we can make using that individual's particular manufacturing skill and capability.
Mission: What really motivates our work is how material properties and manufacturing methods can drive a design and an aesthetic. We try to celebrate that and bring that out in the work, rather than trying to hide it. So I'd say my mission is to create objects that have a kind of inherent truth to them, that speak about all the various parts that create the whole.
The Black Counter Stool is the newest member of Ravenhill's Black Chair family
The Hood Chandelier—one of Ravenhill's latest lighting products—uses white oak, polyethylene shades, a brass wiring hub and cloth-covered wiring.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? I have an undergrad degree in sculpture, and for years I was a wooden boat builder. I went back to grad school for design because I loved building things but I was really attracted to the idea of being able to mass-produce objects and furniture. So I went to grad school in 2007 with the idea of being a designer, and I started my own company soon after graduating in 2009.
Education: I went to the Rhode Island School of Design for a master's in industrial design.
First design job: While I was in grad school, I designed a bottle opener that got licensed by Areaware. The bottle opener was one of my thesis objects—my thesis at RISD was about investigating objects that, through wear and use, develop a patina and increase in value. The bottle opener was a simple object that I created to investigate some of those material properties. I made eight and gave them out to friends, and one made its way to Areaware and they picked it up for licensing. That was my first "licensed object" job.
Then when I moved out to L.A. in 2010, I got a job to design a restaurant, because the owner had seen my bottle opener in a magazine. That's what jump-started my business—some of my earliest work that I'm now still producing came out of that project.
Who is your design hero? I have a lot of design heroes, but someone who I really look up to his Nathaniel Herreshoff. He was a wooden boat builder who not only had amazing mastery of form, in making really beautiful and fast boats, but he also had his own manufacturing capabilities in Rhode Island, where he constantly pushed materials and methodologies in boat building. So as much as he was an innovator in new forms, he was also an innovator in how to create those forms. He was an early and huge influence on my design career.
Inside Ravenhill's studio in his Los Angeles home
Posted by core jr
| 17 Sep 2013
This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. We'll be posting a new interview every other Tuesday.
Name: Piet Hein Eek
Occupation: Designer, producer, distributor, architect. I don't like doing only one thing, and I like processes in general very much. I'm always very keen on the whole process, from the idea to the consumer.
Location: Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Current projects: We're always doing different projects, either for customers or for ourselves—for the collection or for "free work," as we call it. It's work that's not specifically commercial but more intellectually challenging and so on.
Right now we're working on the Waste Project, with tables and chairs and other things that we make from waste material left over from our own production. This project started in 2000, but we're still working on it on many different levels. One of the new things is a Waste Waste 40x40 series—so it's made of the waste of the Waste Project. Instead of the leftovers determining the size and the image of the product, we cut everything down to 40-by-40-millimeter blocks. It's a totally different approaching to using the leftovers, and we're using almost everything because it's a very small size. And that provides beautiful new objects.
Mission: I always try to make the world a little bit better—but I always feel a little incompetent saying that. Because if you're a designer, you create products to be consumed. And one of the biggest issues in the world, of course, is our senseless way of consuming. So I try to communicate that the way we design, produce, consume, et cetera might be much more clever.
Above and below: an armchair and table from Eek's new Waste Waste 40x40 collection
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? Well, as a child I was always building things, especially outside—huts and cabins and things in the trees. So the fact that I became a designer, and specifically one who is producing his own products, that was from childhood.
Education: Design Academy Eindhoven
First design job: The first design commissions I got were all friends of my mother. And with the third one I got in a little bit of a quarrel, and I promised myself never to work again for friends or relatives. Because you give it everything you have and then in the end they're still not convinced that they have a good bargain, and they start arguing. So I stopped working for people who are close to me.
Who is your design hero? If I have to choose one, it would be Jean Prouvé. Out of all the designers, I feel the most close to his work. When I look at his work I always think, "If you gave me the same situation, I would love to have made that!" He was like an engineer, and he had his own factory, so in the end he was working with the possibilities he had at that moment, and that's quite similar to my situation.
The workshop of Eek's headquarters in Eindhoven, in a converted Philips factory