How Designers design their Studios
Text: Wiebke Lang (firstname.lastname@example.org
Desk sharing, paperless offices and home offices are a much discussed subject these days. Designers are participating directly in this change in the world of work and communication structures – because they are the ones who design the respective office furnishings and fittings. But how do the designers themselves work, and in what sort of environments? We visited a few studios to find out.
First stop Tàtil Design in Rio de Janeiro: Here, packaging solutions for brands such as Heineken and Nokia are created on the first floor – but that is not all. Depending on how the staff feel, they can either take the staircase to the ground floor or slide down the steel bar specially installed for the purpose. A playful element allowing optimal conditions for creative work according to Fred Gelli at Tàtil Design – which quite literally means tactile, sensual design. The toilet in the New York office of Stefan Sagmeister is also somewhat reminiscent of a playground. Hanging on the wall are 21 toilet paper holders with products from all over the world. Sagmeister’s origins, however, cannot
be mistaken. “Having been born in Bregenz and grown up near the German/Swiss border, I really need order in my design,” he says. Günter Horntrich, founder of Yellow Design which works in Cologne, Pforzheim, and Berlin is likewise no fan of creative chaos. “The
way my desk looks resembles things inside my head, too,” he claims.
Other designers have dispensed with order – Mike Meiré, for example, who recently moved with his agency to a former warehouse in Cologne. “Following on from my former, rather empty office I now need complete chaos. Design no longer has to be clean, underground is where it’s at.” In his new office there is no longer any designer furniture and instead “personal objects” which he picks up, for example, at flea markets. He does admit, however, that the interior objects in this “sampled reality” function like extras on a stage. Like the old folding wooden chair which reminds him of church events. “Now that’s provokative!” He could also well imagine furniture by Konstantin Grcic, with their “philosophical statements”. In Grcic’s Munich office the designers work to music. “I believe it’s important for an office to have a personal atmosphere, without it necessarily feeling like you’re in a living room,” says Grcic. The collection of completely heterogeneous seating furniture ranging from Enzo Mari’s classic chairs to his own prototypes is impressive. “Here, things are always in flux. Each day we sit on at least three different chairs – it promotes healthy sitting. For design theorist, Michael Erlhoff, thinking and writing are unlike conceptual design work specifically in terms of the working hours – Erlhoff seldom gets down to work before 10 p. m. He then requires good lighting and high quality writ-ing utensils. “A pencil has to lie properly in your hand and be fast, otherwise my thoughts race ahead.” Every so often he plays a game of chess with his computer to “give my head a bit of a chance for
Is the interior of a designer’s studio so different from offices in other branches? Maybe designers spend more time thinking about the furnishings. “We don’t live and work with copies, but with originals. After all, we design some of them,” says Günter Horntrich. In his office there are Ulm stools and an old Braun tabletop calculator alongside Rosenthal tableware he himself designed, not to mention his Lamy writing utensils. Dieter Rams prefers his Olivetti Valentine type-writer to an IBM laptop. His office is decorated with the Vitsoe shelf system he designed and a double tabletop table – “and not because I don’t accept other furniture, but simply in order to try things out in daily usage and advance them if necessary.” Often it is just the details which make you reflect on work processes and offer support when designing. But Konstantin Grcic claims that “slowly, industry is beginning to let ideas which intuitively arise from work processes flow into the design of commercial working worlds.”