Platform Design and Research Blog

Interview with the men behind Rakso Naibaf

Sitting in Oskar and Fabians’ work space on the sunniest day in Berlin, we were generously offered a coffee and Fritz Cola’s, shown new models for future exhibition. Being with the boys  one immediately notices how free and in tune with one another they are, one starts an idea the other one follows with a new one, talking over one another, ones answer is sparked by the other ones last words. Here is our conversation with these two “cool” boys:

Alex: What kinds of materials do you like to work with and why:

Oskar: (jokingly)as we say on our website, we like to work with real materials, like really pure ones, plywood or extreme plain aluminium

Fabian: but we also work with plastic or artificial materials, for a new project, the rooms are made of natural materials, like stone or wood, and we try to experiment with plastic or printed patterns on aluminium

Both reiterating that with every project brings new ideas to play with the materials in a different way and creating these contradictory atmospheres playing with the notion of real and fake. You start a relationship with the material.

Oskar: At the beginning we were trying to work with plain materials but it doesn’t really work in the furniture world so much

Fabian: but we try to use the material not overdesign it, use it in it’s natural form.

Iohanna: So you choose the material according to the space, which is not the usual way designers think:

Oskar: we see the space…because we are architects, every furniture is made for a room, there are some projects on which you can’t put a plywood chair, it doesn’t fit in every room…

Fabian:for example for the roof terrace we made a piece that was very gray, and the Berlin winter is very gray, Berlin boringness so you don’t want to put some pink furniture which would fit Miami

Alex:What had you imagined you were going to be when you were young:

Oskar I thought I would become a marina deep sea archeologist, but realized you needed a lot of physics skills…but never imagined I would do furniture

Alex: and architecture:

Oskar: Architecture yes but when I was young, I don’t know, to fair I don’t think you can understand what architecture is before you study it. I think the furniture world is small and unique, when you are younger you don’t really know about it.

Fabian: It’s like fashion, it’s small, when you are young it sounds a bit boring

Oskar: architecture too

Fabian: yeah, you know…you want to be an astronaut

Oskar: you also don’t imagine that you will be stting in front of a computer all day, I don’t think anyone who was 12 said they wanted to be an architect, it’s not very childlike

Iohanna: Yeah because architecture, some 20 years ago we could imagine it being dealing with construction

Oskar: yeah exactly, you could imagine being outside with plans somebody else drew, and especially furniture, that you can have a massive launch party for a chair

Fabaian: yeah that’s why we started furniture design, for the parties(everyone laughs)…but for me, a lot of people in my family are architects, and I saw how most of the day is spent in meetings, and having others approve or not of your plans…with a chair, you do it, show it, put it on the internet and people contact you or not, but the product is there

Alex: How does your first idea for a product diverge from the final product:

Oskar: We design more or less by talking, (talking about their umbrella table)we were producing and saw an umbrella and we stuck it to a table, we didn’t do a drawing, and then brought it to the guy who built it

Fabian: it looked like trash, we didn’t expect the result but when we bring our models to the craftsman, he sees it, it gives a better idea of the actual size, a feeling for the form(talking about their X chair) we didn’t draw, it was just a simple idea and then

Iohanna: It is more intuitive then:

Fabian: yeah, we are there and we talk, but the thing is ready

Oskar: and also cuz we invented this(the X chair), we do furniture because in architecture you need to plan everything in detail,with the furniture, it is freer, we don’t need to do fancy renderings, it’s like a real liberty.

Fabian: you know the sketch Bourriaud made of a nuclear power station given for christmas, very famous in Germany, they are kind of beautiful and then we create…it’s really intuition.

Alex: What is the sense you associate with design:

Oskar: some things you just have in the eyes, when your eyes pop up like a child and you just say that is so cool, I really don’t care how it feels or what kind of wood

Fabian: also for the internet it is more important the look, it needs to be communicative…we had a call today from this guy and he wanted the X chairs for his clients and he said cool work, and that’s exactly what we want, the quality of it is that you need to feel the story


Alex: What inspires you outside the design world

Fabian: food, sitting down in a restaurant for hours, having good food, but it’s the feeling behind it, like music or movies, when we started studying we saw the Fabulous world of Amelie, like we want to create a lifestyle, a profession, we work very hard to get this feeling for us.

Oskar: especially in Berlin, it’s an old city and it’s inspiring, but there is no rigorousness, when I go to work at 8am people are coming home from a club, it get’s to be lazy, and we work a lot, so the feeling we get from another lifestyle is inspiring.

Iohanna: so that was another question, how does the city influence you

Fabian: We try to keep Berlin out of our thinking, we’ve been here since 8 years, people from around the world come to this city, but if you live here long, you find it inspiring to leave the city, go somewhere else

Oskar: You find it inspiring to go to a city where things are expensive(laughing all of us), we went to Zurich last week and the work ethic is so different.

Fabian:what is inspiring is the fight against Berlin

Oskar: here you can rent a space like this(their studio), it’s so cheap…the problem is you can start things very easily here but you don’t have the professional structure, the pressure to have a prosperous company, you have nothing holding it up

Fabian: When you work, you need to be very honest with yourself, are you making money with it or are you really cutting edge, last year we were really busy, but if you ask us can you show in Milan….

Iohanna:exhibiting in Milan is a proof that you are working internationally

Oskar:yeah so the next step is promoting, if you mean it seriously, you need to go to Milan, it’s not the same power behind it, in money there is also money, it’s like a flea market, and there you have the Berlin bonus, people like things from here, on the other hand we need them to put it in relation to other design

Oskar:people have a lot of problems though with Berlin because you cannot produce here…when you need to live from what you do then it becomes something else

Alex: what is the first thing you ever designed

Fabian: a lamp and my treehouse, I won a prize for that, maybe it was form my mom…or the first thing I designed was a prize…to me(all laughing)

Oskar: probably a lego house




Alex: On Sunday mornings what do you eat and is it any different from any other day:

Fabian: eat, we eat

Oskar: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, with cinnamon raisin bread, yeah it’s really bad but I love it now

Fabian: I like scrambled eggs

Oskar: Depends if you go out, you go straight lunch…for us it’s important lunch at 12 o’clock

Fabian:but now I am addicted to Bun Mi, food is really important here, on a good working day we spend at least 2 hours in a restaurant, sometimes, when you are in another city or here, you have to decide if you are going to sit in a restaurant or go to a museum, most trips are surrounded by food and new discoveries in taste.

Alex: How do you see school now:

Oskar: Design school, or real school

Fabian: yesterday we were talking about being so happy that we are not going to school anymore

Oskar: yeah we see students, and they have to wake up at 7h30 and go to chemistry classes

Alex: I am so happy to not being going to school because for me it meant a lot of bullying:

Oskar: I am very happy I am not going to design school anymore, because we studied architecture

Fabian: we didn’t study so intense, it was a good time but…

Oskar: you come to university because you think you can now do what you want, and then you have to do group work, let’s face it it’s a bit of an ego show if you do architecture and design, the superstar students. There is a lot of competition, I didn’t enjoy school to much, it was one thing you had to do.

Fabian: a that was one thing because with the masters we had to do nothing, you made your own work in a way

Oskar: we were doing an interior in Mitte at the time, our teachers were not happy, they said that we couldn’t study and work, people had a problem with what we were doing

Fabian: we started to do product design and at least during university you could make mistakes instead of now

Oskar: In Germany school is free so a lot of people just cruise along but it’s a great place to study because you can have a lot, a big apartment, as a student you are probably richer than most Berliners.

Iohanna: Do you think you take inspiration from vintage or second-hand trend:

Oskar: I personnally don’t like it, I think this whole organic earthy thing is beautiful for some spaces like bars and coffee shops, but I prefer to be in the 80′s

Fabian:it inspires to make more and more glossy, glamorama furniture, more design overdose.

Oskar: like the interior we designed, where every surface is covered with mirrors.

Iohanna: But I see the influence

Of course there is reference to another time, but we reinterpreted it. We are doing this new work and printing wood grain on aluminum and it’s really tacky

Fabian: now it’s forbidden, you need nuclear power to make aluminum, so I don’t know, but we are also anti-attitude, if everything was high end we would do second-hand




Photography by: Ottilie Maters











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