Ines Königsmann is an ebullient person, rife with energy and an interesting discourse on how nature inspires her work. She has great insights on the necessity of new techniques, collaboration in design, and more importantly is trying to find her own visual vocabulary that is in tune with her particular interest in material.
After having interviewed her on the first day we had met, I absent-mindedly taped over her interview. Ines was generous enough to sit down with me (AGAIN) yesterday and answer new questions. Here are her thoughts:
Alex: Could you tell me what is your history, what school you went to, and how that informed your work afterwards:
Ines: I came from a carpenter family that is my background, I know how wood works and how to work with wood in workshops and stuff like this. I studied product design, in Weimar at Bauhaus-University, it is an open-minded school, more conceptual, they pushed you to to ask questions about what we need in products in the future. So I am really in between the earth with this workshop background and the conceptual material. I think I am mixing these two polar elements in my work this really basic low-technic, traditional materials, handcraft, and try to find some new things, I like to invent new products, like this saddle for example.
Alex: The Versado saddle was your final project work, and so how was it working with a (leather) craftsman, like you had mentioned previously, and also looking at your work which is quite sculptural, this one is quite different both in purpose and aesthetically so how did you come up with the idea for this piece:
Yeah (lauging) for the cloth racks I worked closely with a partner, and so it’s a work from both of us, and the saddle is more my work and was done a couple of years ago, the idea, I had told you…
Alex:Yeah, you had told me before but…:
Right (laughing) the saddle, is not so sculptural you’re right but it’s more the idea behind it, you see the idea directly. It is different because you don’t have to explain the product, people can immediately get it. I think I like products they don´t need an explanation.
Alex: And so how is life after school, have you had to work in a more commercial setting, have you been able to concentrate on your own work, or have you had to juggle both…. or even go in another field completely:
After school, the first time I took a look in different fields, to take a step back, to look at product design and what it is. And after two years I went back to design and worked in an office in Netherlands, at INEKE HANS STUDIO, after that I came back to Berlin and started working in a small office, with focus on more comercial design.
2 years ago I took the possibility to start working on my own furniture pieces, the cloth racks … I think it was a real important step to go, after that break after school, and also to have a bit of time to think over what is important in design, or my mission in that design world.
Alex: mmhhm … you mean to know what you are doing, and to work with materials, new ones as well, and also how to work in a company:
The thing is that in school, I just learned how to find new concepts and how to make new products, but not what come afterwards, how to built up our own studio and what this means, how to manage your own business, I hadn’t learned in school.
Alex: Yeah and I mean there is a big marketing wheel that has nothing to do with the work, but with packaging … but okay so how do you get inspired, if you are blocked, how do you get out of it:
In my mini-studio, I go out in the Garden and take a look to my small field where my vegetables are growing, and I go to museums or libraries to see something completely different that is not related to my work, but what takes my fascination and after a certain time I can find a connection to my work. I need to by on a quiet place, where my thougth can find their way.
Alex: You work mostly alone through the whole process, so how is your process, does a client contact you and then demand adjustments or changes to certain pieces or do you come up to products and then give them through your website:
At the moment I don’t work so much with clients but I hope that it will change in the next time, it’s more that I produce the things I like, in a way I like. Right now I am working on a seat, and it is a bit higher because it is for my size, and when I work with a client it has to be the standard size, and yeah … I do it for me, at the moment, I am trying it out and I need to figure out how it goes, and if it works. I will exhibit one piece of this new collection in June at DMY and I am a bit in a hurry to develop the new pieces.
Alex: So in one month you are participating in an event in which you have been grouped with others you didn’t necessarily know. Explain how this collaboration is going:
For the DMY group, we are 11 unknowns, to find a concept that everyone likes, practical, that we could accomplish, it was a long process, but finally it was nice to see that something new would grow out of all of our different ideas. I like to work with people together, but I also need my own way of working.
Alex: For REFOUND we were trying to show how designs are constantly inspired by the past and in this particular case we were trying to show how the vintage wave inspired many. Do you see any historical imprints on your work, or were you inspired by a certain movement:
Today we can constantly see what is happening in the designer world, there is so much, every day we can see so many new products. It is not so easy to find your own vocabulary. So I am looking for inspiration in different contexts, not connected to design by the first view. I am interested in traditional methodes, for example in joining of wood, or building structures or old patterns. I told you before, I go to museums and get inspired that way.
Alex: Do you mind the faults in certain materials, or more precisely the constraints pertaining to some materials, there are limitations and strong points depending on what you are using, and so do you like working with the material or molding the material for your use:
This is a good question because all the time, the designer depends on the material he is using, and the quality of the material. Wood, it sounds so easy but there are so many kinds, one is stronger or the grains direction is different, there is a lot of knowledge, I know from previous times, but in general I don’t like to form the material in my way, for example to find the limit of the material, to invent some new shapes and then see if it can be made into a certain shape, my way is to be more simple, and to see what can happen with the material. Not to follow just a shape.
Alex: Last time, you were doing scale models in your studio, so how is that working out have you started production:
I am on a bigger scale, I started at 1:10 and now I am at 1:3. I am still working on this process, but I have to go in the next days in to 1:1.
Alex: You were working with thread and wood for your models, will you be able to materialize the bigger project with these materials:
I started with wood and then tried to find the link between wood and wool. Through this process I found another material made of wool, felt, and so I want to shape this in a particular shape. With laser cutting I will be able to achieve this, making a structure like a basket, you see I work with new technology as well.
Alex: It’s an interesting statement, because you use the natural process and the low-technique, they are sort of inter-mingling, but how do you see the new technical possibilities, do you see them as something positive:
I am always interested in new technique but I hadn’t worked so much with new technique finally. I keep the new technique in mind and try to see when and where I can use it. I don’t like to design things just for the new technique.
Alex: How do you find the design world in general and especially IKEA:
IKEA…uhm…it’s a phenomenon, the stuff you see at Ikea everyone has at home, I don’t know any comparable company with this reach. IKEA is creating the wishes of the people and in this way IKEA is molding the peoples’ houses into units for modern lifestyle. Without IKEA most of the houses would be horrible, much more horrible than they are right now…
Alex:…or very empty
… but they do make people sensible to new things and new designs. But the big problem of IKEA is the gap between quality and price politic. There is no exception for quality and normal prieces for furniture. They cultivate a waste culture and I don’t like this throw-away fad.
Alex: How do you see ones’ relationship with these different furniture processes, from the waste culture and the handcraft. I mean there is a lot of utilitarian design here …:
It’s really a strict Form follows function spirit here in Germany.
Alex: … this question stems from a discussion Iohanna, Raquel and I were having about the impregnated history in certain older or vintage objects, you know a table is a table, but the table that your grandmother had and passed down to you retains other possibilities, quality, life span, so how do you see these phenomenons relating to ones’ quality of life:
I think, it is not possible to have a connection to everything you have around you. But I like and need the histories behind things, like in my projects. I also have pieces form my grandmother, chairs, I sit on in my childhoud. But I don’t know if every design piece can give a history you are in tune with.
There are connections with pieces from craftsmen and you see the handcraft behind, that has been put in an object, the research in the materials, and that kind of objects can create another type of life quality to someone. It’s nice when you touch an object and you feel the work behind it.
Alex: How do you find the internet as a mode of communication for products or for another public, do you find that it is a world of possibilities or do you find that it creates another bubble:
I had this experience, I tried to sell the clothes rack (NOI) through the internet but it wasn’t easy because with simple-looking design pieces you lose all the important information in a picture, you can’t feel the quality or see the aspect that the designer wanted to bring forward. It might work with other design objects, it could be a better platform, but I felt that for my pieces especially people have to touch it, only then they can see the quality behind. So I do think it is strongly related to the piece if the internet works as a marketing tool.
On the other side it’s really fascinating, that I got in touch with companies around the world without even meeting them, so it makes more possibilities, but it is a bubble and everyone need to find their own way outside of the bubble.
Alex: Okay so for your favorite question (we both laugh) what do you eat on Sunday mornings and is it special from the other days of the week:
hahahhaha, Yeah like I told you last time I don’t eat anything special on sunday mornings, but I do take more time for enjoying it.