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Industrial Design

STEFAN DIEZ 12


STEFAN DIEZ

Cover: 404 F for Thonet Photographer: Myrzik & Jarisch (2007)


Bent for Moroso Photographer: Stefan Diez Office (2006)


REVIEW & PREVIEW

STEFAN DIEZ

What was the first object that you consciously designed? How did it come about? Most probably some accessories for my father’s workshop when I was going to school and earned some pocket money. For several years I made the tools for optimizing the workflow in his carpentry workshop. Which is your most successful project so far – and why? In terms of market success I cannot tell precisely, because it takes several years to find out. But the Kuvert Bags for Authentics, the 404 family for Thonet and the Houdini family for e15 are doing very well. In terms of orders Chassis for Wilkhahn is quite promising, too. They just started to sell and production is still having troubles to catch up. In terms of media response, I see Houdini and Chassis were extremely well covered. In general I feel our studio got much attention. The personal favourite project so far is probably the collaboration with Philipp Mainzer. We are same age, we are friends and whatever we did


for his company so far was developed further and got better through their hands. Philipp is daring. And we enjoy that. Currently we are working for some few new companies and I have had similar experiences with Hay and Gandiablasco. You describe your own style as precise, simple and to meet human needs. If you look at yourself as a consumer, which items in your daily life meet your human needs best? As a consumer, I am a minimalist. What makes me happy is my work and being together with friends and family. I hate going shopping, it makes me sick. Most of the things I own are either exchanged with other designers or bought in the shop of friends. Speaking about human needs: I like objects with a strong character that fulfil their functional expectations and have been perfectly manufactured in terms of quality, that are long lasting. Put the other way around: what item do you think needs a new design the most? My toaster. How did your own approach develop? What was the influence of working as a cabinet maker – and in contrast how did people like Richard Sapper and Konstantin Grcic influence you? Richard gave me the reason to study industrial design and became my teacher and mentor at the Academy of Arts in Stuttgart. His approach is

New Order for Established & Sons Photographer: Peter Guenzel for Established and Sons (2010)


Jean for e15 Photographer: Ingmar Kurth (2010)


pared by a carful observation and an enormous general knowledge about manufacturing and materials. He is the most curious person I have ever met. He is full of humour and has an adorable way of enjoying life. Konstantin is, for me, the designer who is most honest and conscious with whatever he is doing. Of all the designers, his moves interest me most. I guess I was quite lucky to have worked with both of them. Concerning my own approach: I know that I am good and fast with a rather hands-on approach to design and experiments. I have learned to trust my hands and knowledge of production and materials. I work the way it is most fun for my studio and me, using the strength we have and being open to new experience and perspective. Are you still in touch with Sapper and Grcic? I wonder whether there is something like an ongoing conversation about design, projects, ideas, solutions with them? If not who else gives you the most relevant feedback on your work – and how? The last time I saw Richard was some years back in Milan. And I am in loose contact with Konstantin. There is no ongoing discussion on design and life with either of them, which I also do not expect. I have a good exchange of thoughts with Saskia and some of my friends like Christian Gärtner or Mirko Borsche. Would you agree that there is a lack of serious design reporting (e.g. in the large German newspapers)? Any idea

why that is the case or how to increase quantity and quality? Yes, I agree. It is not only the fault of the media but rather the fault of designers and above all the manufacturers, that have little substantial to say. Their collections seem arbitrary and miss a link, a bracket, a good story or at least a promise. What can we consumers expect from that company? In addition, most of us designers are too shy to give an opinion in public. Of course there are good examples, too. Taking a look at the Established and Sons collection and the art direction of Sebastian Wrong, I feel they have done a fantastic job. For me the best contemporary collection of furniture design. What is your studio like? An office, a workshop, a factory? How many people are in your team? What kind of people? How do you pick or team members? What are the most important tools? Our studio is a workshop, an office and a living room on the weekends. We have three designers and an office manager plus one or two interns. Except the interns, the team is solid and does not change. You are collaborating with you wife Saskia Diez – among others. How do you collaborate? How do you design together? Do you really work together or does each of you have his/her own field? Did you know from the beginning that you would and could work together?


The collaboration with Saskia was first of all a coincidence. I was working on a collection for Papier Bags and my previous plan, to issue them together with Authentics did not work out. So we migrated the project to Saskia’s label and completed the project by adding some new items. The collaboration turned out to be successful so for the future we are considering collaboration on a regular base on the topic of luggage and accessories. We never forced a collaboration but just made something out of what looked obvious to us. How long does it take to design a chair? What is your starting point (e.g. when working with Thonet or e15)? What are the main steps? How do you know that you are done? To design a chair takes sometimes two weeks or several months. The time to market is between some months and several years. It is relatively easy to work for a strong company with a precise profile and that has demanding customers. Our work is narrative and therefore I need a link. The first thing I usually do is to describe what interests me and then build a perspective upon that. A project is finished, of course, the moment the client and we are happy. As a former cabinet maker I assume that working with manufacturers with a high appreciation for material and craft is the perfect match. Please describe your collaboration with Thonet.

Papier with Saskia Diez Photographer: Stefan Diez Office (2009)


Houdini Contract for e15 Photographer: Ingmar Kurth (2011)


The interesting thing with Thonet is their heritage: They have twice invented a proprietary manufacturing process. First steam wood bending and later steel tube bending. All the strong pieces of Thonet are related to one of these two processes. Working for Thonet was, ergo, not so much about designing a chair but rather designing a process (to manufacture chairs). This was a crucial discovery for me and the way we work in our studio, as well as for other clients. For Authentics you designed products, but you also worked as their art director (together with Mirko Borsche and Christian Gärtner) for a year. What was your role in this art direction team? What was your achievement as a team? Why did it only last for a year? Konstantin did the Art Direction for Authentics some years before and struggled. At the time I was working in his office and the reason, as I understood it, was the enormous amount of work and time that was going into it and the relatively small budget. So when it was up to me, I dramatically increased the budget and manpower. And I also struggled. James Irvine, a friend of mine told me that I need patience and time to change things... I guess he is right. Authentics is an interesting and quite unique platform, but too many people have a say in this company. And they have a quality issue that was neglected for too long. Every time I see one of Konstantin’s Tip in a kitchen or a toilet something is broken. My Kuvert Bags are not long-lasting enough as well. A pity.

Shuttle for Rosenthal Thomas Photographer: Ingmar Kurth (2006)


405 PF / 406 PF for Thonet Photographer: Thonet (2009)


Leo for e15 Photographer: Ingmar Kurth (2011)


What makes a good client? A good client is the one with a strong opinion and a clear vision. Material plays an important role in your projects. Could you explain how you find the right material for a project? How do you research materials? Do you archive samples? I visit factories whenever there is a chance to do so and meet people who are dealing in the field of production, engineering and material. That happens naturally during my work process. From your experience: What is the relevance of presenting (or staging) design e.g. in the context of trade presentations (Milan), exhibitions (Villa Noailles) or in publications? What roles does this form of „Inszenierung“ or communication of design take in your work process? How do you approach that? Any presentation is a chance to draw a red line, to tell a story or to point out on something interesting or humorous, which is obviously important. People like to understand and like to be entertained. That is clearly a part of our job as designers. What were the projects you decided not to do? What made that decision? There was one project that got stuck: A chair made out of super thin and lightweight steel tubes. Until now I have not found a way to get a formal new aspect out of that material. It makes no

sense to go ahead without solving that issue. You are a professor at the HFG Karlsruhe as well. What do you students learn from you? You have to ask my students. We are in a continuous dialogue and I have to moderate it. That forces me to continuously question what I and they do, and how I or we can explain it. That is what I learn from them. Thank you very much.


Villa Noailles exhibition Photographer: Olivier Ansellem (2011)


PUBLICATIONS

COLOPHON

01 CHRISTOPH NIEMANN Illustration 2009 02 MICHEL MALLARD Creative Direction 2009 03 FUN FACTORY Product Design 2009 04 ANDREAS UEBELE Signage Design 2010 05 HARRI PECCINOTTI Photography 2010 06 KUSTAA SAKSI Illustration 2010 07 5.5 DESIGNERS Product Design 2011 08 NIKLAUS TROXLER Graphic Design 2011 09 JOACHIM SAUTER Media Design 2011 10 MICHAEL JOHNSON Graphic Design 2011 11 ELVIS POMPILIO Fashion Design 2011

PUBLISHER Design Friends COORDINATION Pit Kuffer / Arnaud Mouriamé LAYOUT Mik Muhlen INTERVIEW Sven Ehmann COPY EDITING Duncan Roberts / Nadine Clemens PRINT Faber Imprimerie PAPER Scheufelen (Heaven 42 softmatt) PRINT RUN 500 (Limited edition)

with Carrérotondes asbl MAPPING AUGUST. An Infographic Challenge 2010

ISBN 978-99959-717-2-4 PRICE 5 € DESIGN FRIENDS Association sans but lucratif (Luxembourg) BOARDMEMBERS Silvano Vidale (President) Arnaud Mouriamé (Vice-president) Nadine Clemens (Secretary) Heike Fries (Treasurer) Mike Koedinger (Boardmember) Guido Kröger (Boardmember) Pit Kuffer (Boardmember) Stéphanie Rollin (Boardmember) Anabel Witry (Boardmember)

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Exhibition

ThoneT essence

A selecTion of chAirs & furniTure 07 – 26 FEbruary 2012

lEcturE

reVieW & PreVieW

by sTefAn Diez thursday, 16 FEbruary 2012, 6.30 pm THONET_FLYER 148x148.indd 1

18/11/11 09:49

This catalogue is published for Stefan Diez's lecture at Cercle Cité on February 16, 2012 organized by Design Friends, Thonet, Carrérouge, Cercle Cité and Ville de Luxembourg as part of the exhibition "A Selection of Chairs & Furniture" from 07 - 26 February 2012. Design Friends would like to thank all their members and sponsors for their support.

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Stefan Diez