- Thomas Wiuf Schwartz
Founded by two Germans, Florian Kallus and Sebastian Schneider, Kaschkasch design studio is this year celebrating its 10th anniversary. Working primarily in furniture and lighting design, their design aesthetic can be described as a mix of function and emotion, offering clean and simple shapes with highly considered details. Kaschkasch approaches design as a helpful and practical component of life that conveys character and attitudes through the expressiveness of restraint. Basing themselves on this approach to design, we see a distinctive, characterful, and minimalist design language that is inherently present throughout the duo’s work. From their Cologne studio, we spoke to Florian and Sebastian about their creative process, 3D printing, and what it means to be a designer.
When designing, you often intentionally limit yourself, because in the process, you usually already have some possibilities in mind that sometimes don’t allow you to make completely free decisions.
Firstly, congratulations on your 10 year anniversary. You have built a remarkable portfolio of products during that time, a number of which we have proudly showcased, such as the ingenious Bolita lamp. What are the most significant things you have learned since you began in 2011? And what would you like the next 10 years to hold for your studio?
Florian: Thank you – 10 years is a long time, over a quarter of my life. In late summer of 2011 we started Kaschkasch. The same year we realised the first projects ever together under the roof of Kaschkasch, which was part of our thesis at university.
Looking back to 2011/12 we were unbelievably naive, which was actually very lucky. What I have learned from the early years is that being naive and having a goal can release tremendous power. Today, when I think about those early years I ask myself how we managed to motivate ourselves again and again every single day.
Regarding the future, to be honest we have just asked ourselves what we wish for the next 10 years. Over the last 3–4 years we have realised that the more we are involved in the projects the better they get—we are always very eager for a lively exchange and I strongly believe that we can learn from our partners and our partner can learn from us. We are very interested in being involved in the whole process from design conceptualisation, through the development process, and at the end photography, rendering, animation video and so forth—what you’d call art direction. Besides being more involved in all these things we are interested in exploring design for chairs and outdoor furniture in the near future.
Sebastian: Cooperation! One of the most important things was to learn how to work together most effectively and harmoniously. Establishing who has what issues in the first place? Who has what strengths? Of course, we had to find each other first.
For the next 10 years, I hope to discover new and exciting projects and areas that we haven’t worked on before. And, of course, that we don’t get tired of confronting each other as a team so that we can continue to work together so successfully and in such a focused way.
What do you each bring to the creative process?
Florian: We both are involved in the creative process and we both come up with initial ideas—as a duo for us discussion is key. We usually talk a lot during the process and question ourselves again and again, which can also be quite exhausting (smiles). During the process we work with sketches, words, renderings, 1:10 and 1:1 models, and 3D prints. For me, design is teamwork.
Sebastian: Florian has a very good imagination. He doesn’t need to put things on paper to visualise them. I, on the other hand, always have to sort my thoughts on paper or somehow make them tangible. I would say we both have a very good feel for materials and a good understanding of construction. I work more on the construction of the products and Florian is more involved in the final presentation.
Tell us a bit about life in Cologne. A place I have visited briefly myself. How have you been influenced by this city? Does it impact your creativity?
Florian: I feel comfortable here. People are open, uncomplicated, and above all, tolerant.
Sebastian: It’s really a nice city. Carnival is usually a pretty big deal here. It shapes the people in Cologne. Many are a bit crazy, but in a positive sense.
Do you have a lot of creative freedom when you receive a design brief?
Florian: It depends on the project and design brief. We usually try to work on a few design briefs (which are very different from each other) and we also try to work on free projects as well. Usually we have around 10 projects we are working on at a time and then we jump from topic to topic.
Sebastian: There is always a defined framework. Sometimes it is more precisely defined, sometimes more broadly defined, but all in all I would say that we enjoy a great deal of freedom to design as we see fit. In fact, you often intentionally limit yourself, because in the process, you usually already have some possibilities in mind that sometimes don’t allow you to make completely free decisions.
One of my favourite designs of yours is the Nait Bed you designed for Müller. What was the inspiration?
Florian: That’s great to hear. The Nait bed idea came to us when we were working on a table milling machine (creating a prototype for another project) when we were excited about the attachment of the cutters. It’s hard to explain with words but that’s what happens from time to time—we see something which fascinates us and then we think and discuss how and if we can translate something like this into something else. In this case, the Nait bed was conceived.
As your work shapes the feeling of home for many other people: What is home to you yourself?
Florian: My family.
Sebastian: I would describe home as a familiar, safe as well as comfortable feeling.
From the perspective of trained craftsmen, what is your opinion on the development of 3D printing technology? And how do you see the future of furniture manufacturing?
Florian: For me as a cabinet maker and designer 3D printing is awesome. It helps so much during the design process and can speed up the process a lot. For example, when we work on kitchen handles it’s super helpful to use a 3D printer during the process—then we have the opportunity to realise a handle within a few hours from the initial idea to a usable handle as a 3D-printed object.
But in general, I think the production of furniture is still quite conservative and for example, the 3D printer has more impact on the design and development process than the manufacturing process itself.
What unique opportunities do you think you’ve been able to have as a result of choosing to become a designer?
Florian: The profession of a product designer as we practice it is incredibly versatile. We know a bit about production processes, we draw, we work with our hands, we work with computers, we use a 3D printer, we travel, we visit production facilities, and we try to understand economic connections. For me, it’s a very satisfying profession.
Sebastian: Even during my training as a carpenter, I thought it was a great moment when a piece of furniture was finished and the customer could physically experience it. It was no longer just an abstract idea or a tree, but a piece of furniture that could be used and had an emotional and functional value for somebody. That is still an incredible privilege in my opinion—to be able to realise ideas and reach people with them. Today, however, we are designing more diversely and reaching even more people instead of just one client.
Are you satisfied creatively? Are there other areas of design that you’re interested in exploring in the future?
Sebastian: I am definitely satisfied. There are so many exciting and different things we get to work on. Nevertheless, one is of course always curious to tackle new things. But what exactly, time will tell.
Florian: Let’s see what the future brings.
What are some of the things beyond the focused, creative work that you’ve done or would like to do?
Florian: I have recently been thinking about skydiving.
Sebastian: In these times it’s the little things... I would like to have a nice beer together with friends again.
What are 3 things you value most in design?
- The insights into other fields
- The versatility
- The reach
What are 3 things you value most in life?
- My family
- My family
- My family
- A quiet night; I recently became a dad (smiles)