Christian Haas is a German Industrial Designer, that perfectly embodies everything that is innovative and creative within design excellence. Having established his Studio in 2000 and now living in Porto, Portugal, he creates pieces from furniture and lighting, through the richest materials. And today, My Design Week brings you the exclusive interview.
I’m going to start by asking you, since it’s your first time here at the Summit, what are your first impressions of the event?
CH: I think it was a very interesting first panel discussion with the Doppia Firma and the Michelangelo Foundation, and I think the topic was quite good and quite multi-dimensional, to see how craftsmanship can survive in the future, how we can enforce the craftsmanship. So, I really enjoyed being on this panel.
Do you think it’s true, that events like Homo Faber, we can help to elevate master craftsmen and craftsmanship in general?
CH: Maybe not completely, but I think it’s already an alert or really shows the interest, when you see how many people visit the Homo Faber exhibition, like 62 500 people. How people start to re-appreciate, let’s say, this craftsmanship. And I think, whatever could be done, whatever puts the focus on these crafts, almost close to disappearing will help in the end. But I think, also, in the end, it needs to be sellable and desirable, it would really help the craftsmen.
Do you think that in the technologic area that we live in, the craftsmanship is still quintessential in the design business?
CH: It’s definitely not quintessential, I think it’s something we shouldn’t have any illusions about it, I think craftsmanship nowadays is more about the luxury as field, so we’re not in the field of mass production, it’s not quintessential but it’s like all the pleasures in life, you know? You want to have a choice, you want to have pleasure, and I think craftsmanship can function a bit in the same way, that you offer something to yourself that you really like, and this is really unique and so. So it’s not quintessential I would say, but it’s a nice benefit, it’s something that warms your heart.
During the panel, you spoke of José Vieira, how was working with him?
CH: He’s a tinsmith! I was approached by Doppia Firma and the Michelangelo Foundation, they would like to showcase a project with a Portuguese artisan, and we already had a project then, but I also wanted to challenge myself, like, let’s do something new. I don’t just want to see a design that I already did so, we had this contact through a friend of mine, to José Vieira, that was one of the tinsmiths up north, and it was a bit of a fixed idea; let’s work with someone that has daily goods, we wouldn’t describe himself as an artist or craftsman. He’s a producer of daily goods, but with strong knowledge let’s say, and I try to push everybody a bit, you know? To push him to do something a bit outstanding and luxurious, something that he’s not used to, and let’s push us also you know? It’s also a process because he was clearly not used to these kinds of works, so it was a bit of a challenge, let’s say.
Do you think that Porto is, or could be a design capital? Do you think it has the potential to be a display in design in cities such as Paris or Milan?
CH: Honestly speaking, I don’t think so. I think Porto can be a strong city in the side, but now we’re talking about Paris and Milan, but every week you have a design week somewhere now right? You have in Stockholm – The Stockholm Design Week gets more and more important, I get the feeling that New York is getting more and more important, there are so many design weeks and so many bases, so I think it will not be a capital of design. Porto, when it comes to design, has some really good designers here in the city. It would be really quite great you know, we don’t have to over rush it, and say that we will be the capital, I think this will not happen in the next 20 years probably, but it could mean a good time for the designers and manufacturing and so. And you see many new young Portuguese brands are popping up, and some are very successful and doing well, and getting acknowledged.
You’ve been at the Paris Revelations in the past May. How would you describe the experience?
CH: I wasn’t there, my piece was there, because it was at the same time as Japan, so I can’t really say it but of course that showing in Grand Palais is an amazing opportunity, and I could guess from the pictures that the installation was quite stunning and breathtaking, so I was very happy that my piece was at Grand Palais, but I didn’t go there personally, so I didn’t really experience it.
Do you think that mainstream medium communication channels should approach more the craftsmen?
CH: I think so, because it’s part of our heritage, of our common knowledge that we have as humans, it’s a bit how we made, how we create with the tools, how we use the tools and so. And I think it’s a pity that we know so less about how pieces are produced and crafted, I think that’s a pity. I think this could be enriched!
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