Design (2018 | Issue 3)

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Inside Story

German engineering is known for its quality, innovation and functionality. The same applies to the world of interior design. Germans take the role of Innenarchitektur so seriously that it is a legally protected term! Not every interior designer can call himself or herself an Innenarchitekt without completing the demanding training process. What’s Up, Germany? takes a look at the exciting interior design landscape in the country, with a focus on furniture.

Traditionally, when it came to interior design, the emphasis was on craftsmanship. The Bauhaus school introduced an industrial, functional and mass-produced approach to design. Even today, Germans prefer a minimal and subtle look in their homes and offices. Sure, there is great respect for traditional pieces of furniture, but the preference is for clean geometric cuts, sober colours and natural materials. Bling never was their thing and it still isn’t!

Conscious Consumption

Another preference for many Germans is socially responsible design. They want spaces and products that minimise energy consumption and harmful waste. Eco-awareness is more than a passing trend; it’s a priority. It’s cool to buy responsibly and design consciously. A heartening fact is a sensitivity towards the elderly and the differently-abled when it comes to interior design. In addition, the Ecodesign Directive was formed by the European Union to check products like electronics, light bulbs, TVs and fridges that use excessive energy. By 2020, it hopes to reduce power consumption in the EU by 12 percent.

Feeling at Home

A clean aesthetic is evident in many German homes. The look is modern and sleek, but also comfortable and warm. It is not antiseptic, nor does it look like a copy from a design magazine! Overall, the colour palette is neutral, the sofa holds centre stage and the wall unit or schrank continues to be popular among many families—much to the chagrin of modern interior designers! The idea is to create the “hygge” feeling at home, where the interiors come together to create a haven of cosiness and comfort. Think candles, fireplaces, being curled up on a sofa with a hot cup of tea! Home certainly is where the heart is!

What’s Up, Germany?’s Top 10 Favourite German Industrial Designers

1. Considered one of the most important designers of his generation, Richard Sapper created products that combined technical innovation, simplicity of form and an element of surprise. He is the man behind the iconic Tizio desk lamp, one of the first lamps that had no visible wires and used halogen bulbs.

2. Konstantin Grcic is a force to reckon with in the world of contemporary industrial design. He won the prestigious Compasso d’Oro for his May Day lamp and MYTO chair. Another classic is his Chair_One, which has a concrete base and a die-cast aluminium seat that still manages to be very comfy!

3. Claudia Kleine and Jörg Kürschner, the founders of design studio Formstelle, are the brains behind Thonet’s 808 lounge chair, a reinterpretation of what is arguably the most famous chair in the world: chair No14, created by the German product designer Michael Thonet in 1859.

4. SUPERGRAU designs furniture with recoverable materials like local wood and stainless steel. It follows the cradle to cradle (C2C) design concept, which considers the entire life cycle of a product from a socially and environmentally responsible angle.

5. Designers Markus Jehs and Jürgen Laub design furniture, lighting and interiors along Bauhaus lines. For them, form does follow function, and function brings its own aesthetic. They resist over-styling, removing elements that don’t serve a purpose.

6. Werner Aisslinger is known for using new technologies and materials. His iconic tulip-shaped Juli chair was the first to utilise polyurethane foam. It is part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection. He later went on to design chairs made of hemp and gel!

7. Daniel Becker’s designs are all about “decorative functionality”. He follows the German design ideal of creating logical and pleasant-to-use objects. He is most known for his Emily pendant lights and Sparks modular lighting system.

8. Before setting up his own design studio, Stefan Diez studied industrial design under Richard Sapper and Konstantin Grcic. He combines the techniques of traditional craftsmanship with digital tools. His Chassis chair, made with state-of-the-art vehicle manufacturing technology, is considered a milestone in design history.

9. Inspired by diverse cultures and people, 37-year-old Sebastian Herkner merges various cultural contexts in his work. His Bell Table, made of glass with a metal top, is a masterpiece of traditional craftsmanship.

10. For Susanne Kaiser, interior design is all about fun. Each project is unique and needs to be given an identity, so that it is remembered. Her firm has designed a number of hotels, spas, restaurants, shops and private homes.