Exclusive Interview with Sebastian Herkner
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Sebastian Herkner was born in 1981 in Bad Mergentheim. He studied product design at the HfG Offenbach am Main (Offenbach University of Art and Design), already focusing during his studies on designing objects and furniture merging various cultural contexts, combining new technologies with traditional craftsmanship in order to highlight the multifaceted beauty of the materials and draw renewed attention to small details.
Whilst still a student, Herkner did an internship with Stella McCartney in London, which helped to hone his feeling for materials, colours, structures and textures. Since founding his own design studio in Offenbach am Main in 2006, he has designed products for manufacturers such as ClassiCon, De Vorm, Moroso and nanoo, as well as working on interior design projects and for exhibitions and museums. Since 2007 he has taught several courses at HfG Offenbach am Main as visiting lecturer. His designs have received multiple prizes, for example the 2011 German Design Award in the Newcomer category. (Markus Frenzl)
What does design mean for you? What is design in your life?
Design is actually my passion and I love my work. There is no stress or to be under compulsion, because this would be a kind of constriction and handicap to my way of working.
Design has to be created with a free mind and very emotional. For me design is about emotion, function, responsibility and need.
Please describe the changes in design over the last 20 years.
Nowadays we focus more on sustainability and also social sustainability. In my work it is very important to think about the process of manufacturing. I like to work with the traditional crafts like glass blowing or metal spinning. These techniques are the fundament of our history of crafts. In the last decades a lot of designs are made without need and responsibility. The aspect of material and the life cycle of a product become more and more important again. The Bell-Table of ClassiCon is handcrafted in Germany. The glass element is done in one of the oldest glass companies in the world located in the Bavarian Forest. It is made by manpower, it costs a lot of energy, time and knowledge to blow such a huge piece. This value and benefit is the substance of this table. It tells this story and makes it special and also classic. I want to create furnitures which are not trendy and outwear the generation.
Which designers/architects have influenced your work the most?
I get my inspirations from all kind of arts and innovations. Be open-minded and question the behaviors of the people around you. Then I have a kind of material and souvenir library with goods I buy on my vacations. Brooms from China, cake pans from Bulgaria, lamp from Nepal …. This pool has so much energy and story-telling for me and influences and conducts my work a lot.
What item have you envied because of its design?
Actually all this small but helpful items of daily life like pegs, scissors and so on which look more or less the same since their launching.
Do you believe that design assists in the creation of a “better” world?
A designer has to create his own position and philosophy. A lot of designs influence our behaviors and change our mentality- see the advantages and disadvantages of the mobile phone culture. I think every designer has to be careful and patient by developing this kind of objects. There is a relevant responsibility to the future.
Should design be more inexpensive or does it deserve to be paid for at a high price?
Design should be affordable and not a privilege for the upper class. One aim of design is to solve problems and to support our daily life. But of cause the production and its location make differences in the pricing.
I think it is more important to think about our shopping behaviors- is it the right way to buy trendy and simple produced products which survive maximum 2 years in our flats and then to throw them away? Is it the correct attitude to pursue a new TV or mobile phone every second year? Why do I have to buy a new printer every year, because the mat of the ink in the printer is full and it is not possible to deflate or the change it?
We all, designers, industry and consumers have to review their behaviors and take responsibility.
What led you to become involved in design?
Since I am a child, it was by motivation to create things.
If you were not a designer-architect, what other profession would you have chosen?
There was no other option for me. Design is not just creating things; it is much more for me.