With Maison & Objet only a week away, we’re excited to see the Designer of the Year accolade dished out to Sebastian Herkner. Blending German engineering and an eye for color, Herkner’s designs have become well known for incorporating traditional crafts and creating something new with the latest manufacturing technologies.
This year you won the Designer of the Year Award at Maison&Objet Paris. What will you be unveiling at the show?
To be Designer of the Year is a huge honor and fantastic appreciation for myself and the great work my studio is doing. We were working already for the installation for M&O. We want to showcase our design philosophy next to some selected products we developed with various companies together over the last 10 years. We will show next to our more iconic products like the Bell Table for ClassiCon or the Oda lamp for Pulpo some novelties like a rug we designed for The Rug Company or a barstool for Thonet.
What are some of your favorite color combinations?
This depends. I really love colors in general, because they add a specific personality to a product. Working with colors and materials, combining them in a unique way is one of my interests.
Over the last decade, you have worked on many collaborations. Do you have one or two which stand out as your favorite?
This is very difficult to say, because you put a lot of effort, time and power in each design and development. A commercial successful or award winning product doesn’t mean that I like it more than another one. I am always happy to discover my products in interiors around the world or spot them on Instagram for example.
But definitely the Bell Table is very special to me, because it was one of my first designs, presented to public 20 years ago. On the other hand my collaboration with Ames is important to me. Traveling to Colombia and starting designs there and to produce it with small manufacturers there is touching and sustainable in another way.
A lot of your work is focusing on artisan craft. What crafts and areas speak most closely to your heart?
Actually in most of my products it is a combination of crafts and new technologies. But my aim is not to show it that much. With the 118 chair for Thonet we use various technologies to produce it. Some elements are steam-bended with a technique Thonet has been using for more than 150 years, other elements like the legs are CNC milled.
I want to use the best way of production to get the best result in case of finishing for example. I am curious always to discover new crafts row ay s of production. Glass is a magical material and you can shape it in many ways. Even each glass blower is working with it in an individual way.
What is it about Offenbach that offers the best vantage point for your studio?
I don’t care to live in a huge city. I need a home to relax and work concentrated. Anyway, I am traveling every week around to see and get inspiration.
How do you decorate your home?
It is an eclectic mix of my designs and lots of souvenirs I bought abroad.
Are there any pieces of art or design you keep at home, that is particularly special?
Designing objects is my real passion, but collecting art is my love. So I have built up my little arts collection already over the last years, which is going step by step.
What moved you to choose industrial design as a career path?
It is the best way to express myself and now it is my passion and a privilege.
What do you look to for design inspiration?
Be curious and open-minded. This is so important and also relevant for our society nowadays. I get inspired everywhere. I collect these moments, and later my intuition and my personal instinct creates something.
What is your process for designing a new piece?
It always starts with a dialogue between the client and the people who are involved. Design is about conversation. I want to do the best, that it fits perfectly to the company and its portfolio and on the other hand also illustrates a vision which tells my story.
What are some upcoming projects we should look out for?
There are the new releases at M&O in Paris, but of cause we are already working on products for the next few years.
*This article has been edited for clarity and length.