How come you decided to do a presentation during the London Design Festival this year?
First of all, it’s nice to launch three projects in one go, instead of doing three separate things, and to do it on my own terms. Milan has become so big that it’s impossible to do anything there other than the normal company presentations. I think that the London Design Festival is a nice result
of Milan getting bigger – satellite events, like this one, have become more exciting. Secondly, I think we can get more attention by doing it in London, as it’s my home town.
The Camper Country Trainer is a remake of the original Camper shoe. How do you like working on that basis?
It’s completely different from the original Camper shoe, but the idea was to do again what they did for their first shoe, to reinterpret this very traditional Mallorcan footware. That’s the kind of project I really like. To look at something old and find a way of renewing it.
So how did you do that and in what way is it different from making furniture?
The starting point is the three materials they used to use – canvas, strips of leather and car tyres – so those are the three elements we had to work with. From the beginning the objective was to make a cheap shoe. After that we decided we’d do what we want. The nice thing working with Camper in Mallorca is that they can do a prototype in three hours and in my size. With a chair it’s maybe three months.
The telephone is for a new Swiss company called Punkt. How did that collaboration start?
I met the guy who founded the company – he’s very young, but something about him was convincing. I had been working with Samsung and I was very frustrated with the impossibility of getting the designs through from prototype to the market. There were too many layers of bureaucracy. So I thought, why not try out a new company?
It’s a really good size, not too big and not too small.
Yes, I was surprised that we managed that because all the phones we looked at were bigger than this, to hold things like batteries and speakers. Of course we don’t design the inside. We did the outside and hoped that they would be able to fit it all in. And they did.
What are you working on at the moment?
There’s a retrospective of my earliest work coming up in Utrecht. It’s a sort of prototype for a bigger exhibition, we’re just testing it out on the first ten years, the 1980s work, it’s quite small. The idea is to show fewer pieces, I don’t want to have one of these shows where you just stick some pieces together and wait for the people to clap. There are only four or five real things and then there’s a lot of support material to put the pieces in context.
So you’re going to do a bigger retrospective eventually?
When the time comes, yes, maybe in a few years’ time. Maybe with Vitra or with the Design Museum here, we’ll see.
So do you keep an archive of all your work to date?
Archive is a bit of a grand word but we have some cardboard boxes with bits and pieces in. It’s not very well organised. That’s also the purpose of the exhibition, to get everything together. If you try and do that in a hurry you won’t find anything.