Finding Harmony in the Shapes: Studio Visit with Product Designer, Eike Voss.
On what felt like one of the first days of sun this year, we dropped in on Berlin-based designer of everyday objects, Eike Voss, to hear some insights into his process and what influences him as a designer.
Following his studies, Eike spent two years in Hamburg working for PostlerFerguson — a London/Hamburg studio — before dipping his toe back in the educational waters with an MA here in Berlin. Since graduating though, Eike’s made a home here, working with a range of product design studios. I wondered how Eike eventually landed on the profession of design.
“It was quite easy, actually. I never had a problem knowing what to do. I was good at the art classes in high school and was drawing a lot”. I quizzed him why he was never compelled to choose the path of the artist… “I never felt that artsy. I always liked the technical perspective; the crafting”.
“My Mom came from a design background, so introduced me to product design. When I was 14 she actually gave me the book from Alessi, The Dream Factory, and that was when I realised that products could be made in a creative way… It had all these sketches that showed how things like the reference of a bird can lead to something like a handle, or a clock.”
We talked about some of Eike’s favourite designers; the likes of Jasper Morrison, Konstantin Grcic and Naoto Fukasawa. I asked what it was about them that inspired him so. He mentioned the “cleanness of their shapes”, going on to suggest “they don’t ‘pop out’ so much”, whilst they also offer inspiration because of their “efficient combination of manufacturing processes and form finding... Plus I like the clever concepts behind many of their products”.
Outside of purely aesthetics though, Eike suggested a fondness for some of Jasper Morrison’s more conceptual thoughts in the design space, namely that of design pollution. Design pollution is the concept of a design landscape overrun with products created purely to service consumer culture, as opposed to creating something out of necessity.
“Jasper Morrison once said that if an object feels invisible, it does a good job. I think that’s a good quote… Objects are good if they don’t need to scream for your attention.”
I interrogated Eike on his style as a designer, which he characterised as “reduced”, noting an affection towards “black, white, grey and natural wood”.
“My professor always said ‘You Germans, if you want to use colour, you always use gray’... I never did colourful objects.”
In collaboration with acte tm, Eike developed a minimal, modular exhibition and furniture system, APS™ (Angled Profile System).
“[Statement from website:] In reference to nomadic lifestyle and symbolic for the streamlined minimalism that defines the late 20th century.”
“It started as a university project with my partner Sascha Huth. It was a brief for a pop-up library at UdK Berlin. It was a system for displaying books. They said it should do everything; flat pack, lightweight, water resistant, durable, weather resistant.”
You can learn more about the APS™ here.
We discussed Eike’s process and it quickly became evident that elements of tangibility are crucial to his method.
“Even though the world is getting more and more digital, we always need to have physical objects… I work a lot with CAD [Computed Aided Design], but I love making objects — in original scale. One to one scale. That always helps me quite a lot. You can get a feeling for the material; a feeling when there’s something missing or not. Whether there’s harmony in the shapes.”
“I’m always researching and sketching. But the thing is, designing is not always a linear process. I make moodboards of projects which inspired me which refers to the style or the field of where I want to go. And from then on it’s sketches, prototypes, 3D sketches — sometimes earlier than for other projects — but I always get the feeling what the right step to do is.”
“I start with collecting inspiration; collecting shapes. From the beginning I always have a kind of image in my head, and during a project I always want to get this image in my head to be the real object. Sometimes it becomes quite diffused, but I always want to make this image become real.”
Thank you to Eike. You can find links to his work below.
Words by Ewan Waddell.
Photos by Ewan Waddell, Eike Voss & Phillip Koll.