Sebastian Herkner 14.05.15

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The German designer's new Collar pendant lamps for Gubi will be on display at Icon's House of Culture

Icon's inaugural House of Culture at Clerkenwell Design Week features installations from Fritz Hansen, Moroso, Vitra and Gubi, which is exhibiting a new pendant lamp, Collar, by Sebastian Herkner. We spoke to the German designer about the project

ICON: What excited you about working with Gubi and about its attitude towards design?

Sebastian Herkner: I like the fact that Gubi is a company that celebrates its strong Danish heritage but is also willing to create challenging new products with international designers. Their promotion of traditional crafts like metal spinning – which I employed for the Collar lamp – and their preference for authentic materials like marble and brass are also closely aligned to my own design philosophy.

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Sebastian Herkner: the designer has also worked with brands including Bosa, Pulpo and Rosenthal

ICON: How does your own design process usually begin?

SH: Well, for this particular collaboration, I started by flying to Gubi's Copenhagen HQ in order to meet their staff; for me it is always important to first create that human relationship with any brand that I work with, to understand their values and history as well their vision for the future. From that point, I return to my studio and start sketching.

ICON: What did you find were the benefits of using hand-blown glass over alternative modes of production?

SH: I like to use exactly these sorts of "honest crafts" in my work. The beauty of a product will always be closely connected to the method of its production. The value and character of hand-blown glass is different to pressed glass. A hand-crafted object always reveals the sort of small details that connect it back to human production – there might be a small air bubble in the glass, for instance, but far from being a defect, this is a sign that leads the user on a narrative trail back to the product's origins.

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An early sketch of the Collar lamps

ICON: And what inspired your choice of this colour palette?

SH: I started to explore mineral colours as a solution for the pendants – hues like terracotta, sand and coquina. I think that these colours
are both natural and timeless; they not only complement each other in any combination, but are also amenable to most styles of interior.

ICON: You've talked previously about wanting to imbue your products with a certain sense of "personality" – how does this tend to manifest itself?

SH: In the past, the core mantra of German design was connected purely with function and simplicity. I agree with these ideals but I also want to evolve that mantra by adding the value of personality. I want my products to become companions to people's lives: they should
have to interact, argue and deal with them. I design products that are intended not just to suit a particular person's taste but also to force a dialogue.

Icon will be at Old Sessions House, 22 Clerkenwell Green, EC1R 0NA, during Clerkenwell Design Week, which takes place from 19 to 21 May. See here for more details and visit in the lead up to the design festival for details of Icon's programme of events at the venue. Cru Kafe is offering Icon readers 20% of orders through its website – visit and enter the code ICONCRU to avail of the offer



Peter Maxwell


Above: The Collar pendant lamp for Gubi


Portrait: Ingmar Kirth

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A hand-crafted object always reveals the sort of small details that connect it back to human production

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