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Interview with Eckhard Beger

Home > Designer Interviews > Eckhard Beger

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Eckhard Beger (EB) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Eckhard Beger by clicking here.

Interview with Eckhard Beger at Monday 29th of March 2021
Eckhard Beger
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
EB: Early in my life, I had a very broad range of interests such as aviation and technology on one side and music, photography and art on the other. When time came to take a decision regarding my studies, I made the rational choice studying engineering and business administration. This led me to a corporate career in the technology industry. Over time however, I emotionally felt the lack of a creative and artistic dimension. I therefore started investigating possibilities to change my professional focus and decided to join the luxury watch industry. With time, my inner urge to be creative became stronger and, having designed objects and furniture in the past, which attracted attention, the idea matured to setup my own design business. This is how I began my “third professional life” as a designer to express my creativity. I am a self-taught designer with an engineering diploma from ETHZ and an MBA from INSEAD.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
EB: I have been working full time as designer since 2010 and founded my own company, ArteNemus thereafter. For the manufacturing of my creations, I have been working with partners in Europe. The distribution is taken care of by my company ArteNemus and by Gallery Patrick Gutknecht in Geneva. Since I started, my creations have been awarded more than 25 international design awards in Italy, the UK or the USA and were exhibited at Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan, at Palazzo Michiel in Venice, at PAD and at Artgenève.

FS: What is "design" for you?
EB: For me the main corner points of a design are its conceptual, aesthetic and functional characteristics as well its manufacturability and market potential. The relative emphasis on each of these criteria however depends on the objective or intent of the project. A product to be industrially manufactured will have a different emphasis than a more decorative, craftsmanship-oriented product. My early designs like the chest of drawers Commodia, with its organic shapes, tended to emphasize form and aesthetics over strict functionality. The resulting more complex construction required the use of multi axis numeric machines as well as the skills of master craftsmen. My more recent designs, like the armchair Cubus have a stronger emphasis on function and manufacturability while still giving a strong importance to form and aesthetics.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
EB: I like working on projects with an important conceptual and creative dimension. Increasingly, I tend to work on projects where I reduce the design and manufacturing complexity in my designs.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
EB: Black Labyrinth and Labyrinth, both chests of drawers, are the two creations I consider the most important. With their understated geometric outline, they are inspired by Asian medicine cabinets as well as by the Bauhaus style. Their very graphic marquetry work adds much esthetic tension to the creations. Both also have a complex drawer design. Hiding their extension mechanisms as much as possible from the eye was a difficult challenge. Another creation that I would like to mention is Commodia, which is a chest of drawers based on organic shapes. It is a contemporary interpretation of a Barock chest of drawers. Manufacturing the complex three-dimensional surfaces was a significant challenge involving 5 axis numerical machines as well as 3D veneer. Labyrinth and Commodia were exhibited at Palazzo Michiel in Venice and Labyrinth additionally at Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan. The latest project I am working and, which I consider important, is the new armchair “Cubus” based on a slanted cube. It symbolises the uncertainty of our world at the beginning of the 3rd millenium.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
EB: In my early creations, I extensively used wood and wood veneers. Wood is a very sensual natural material and the variations in color and grain give it its uniqueness. I also conceived pieces with organic shapes, which required the use 4/5 axis numeric machines as well as 3D veener. More recently however, I started designing creations with simpler, more essential geometric outlines. I also began working with materials such as aluminum, satinated glass, bronze and finishes like metal patina, lacquer or silver leaf. I am excited by the new degrees of freedom and potential for creativity given by these materials and techniques. I am also experimenting with resins, stones and processes like heat/fire to achieve more contrasting and expressive finishes.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
EB: It is not always easy for me to be creative « on command ». It is therefore important for me to feed my mind and my imagination with ideas on a regular basis and follow different concepts in parallel. I am doing this by travelling, reading or talking with people from diverse origins. Lately, I have also been starting to systematize my creative process by scheduling fixed periods during the week that are dedicated to conceptual and creative thinking. So far the results have been encouraging.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
EB: There is a multitude of emotions I feel when I design. I feel a mix of curiosity, attention and interest when a new design concept emerges in my mind. My attitude is driven by excitement, investigation as well as openness and I have a more analytical mindset. During the design process itself – the translation of the concept to the real design – there is a mix of emotions from excitement to interrogation over frustration to satisfaction, based on the project’s progress. It is clear that the whole design process is not a smooth one. If feel more satisfaction at the end of the design process when I feel that I was able to translate a good conceptual idea into an esthetically pleasing creation.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
EB: Seeing a finished new design for the first time is a moment of satisfaction and relief. It is at the same time a moment of interrogation: Have I realized all the project’s objectives in terms of functionality, esthetics and manufacturability? It also raises the question how customers will see the new design.

FS: What makes a design successful?
EB: A good design is characterized by the right blend of conceptual, aesthetic and functional characteristics as well by its manufacturability and commercial potential. These characteristics need to be in line with the project’s initial objective.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
EB: The first aspect I am taking into consideration is the general design intent. A design to be manufactured in large series should be evaluated differently than a unique piece manufactured by an art craftsman. Starting from there I will look at the design’s conceptual, aesthetic and functional qualities as well as the way it is manufactured and its market potential. This will allow me to make an analytical evaluation. I will also make a personal, subjective based on my personal preferences and on my emotions. One aspect I particularly look at is if a design is harmonious or if on the contrary there is an esthetic tension created by a conscious choice by the designer.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
EB: I think that beauty has an inherent impact on the wellbeing of men. Artists, architects, interior decorators and designers transcend the function of their respective creations with esthetics and emotions and thereby make the world a nicer place to live.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
EB: My last exhibitions were Artgenève in 2020 and 2019, PAD Geneva in early 2018 with Gallery Patrick Gutknecht and Venice Design 2017 in the context of the Venice Art Biennale 2017. The next planed exhibition is Artgenève 2021. However, whether it will take place or not in June depends on the situations with the Coronavirus.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
EB: I am person with multiple interests such as travelling, music, aviation, photography, food & wine and I live in an international environment. In addition, I like to let my curiosity wander around and explore geometry, mathematics and ornamentations, modern and postmodern architecture, the microscopic and macroscopic realms of nature and space. I have thereby discovered shapes as well as structures, textures and color combination, which are a source of inspiration for my creations. Flowing volcano lava is a good example thereof. My conceptual side helps me then to translate these abstract ideas into a concrete creation. All these elements feed my inspiration.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
EB: My designs are always based on a clear conceptual idea. In the past years however, my design style has evolved from being based on complex organic shapes to more geometric compositions. It is an evolution towards a more minimalistic, more essential design style, one that also leads to less complex constructions. My choice of materials has also evolved from the use of natural woods towards the use of a more diverse choice of materials such as aluminum, glass, leather, lacquered or burned wood or patinated bronze as well as stones and resins.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
EB: I live in Geneva Switzerland, which is an international city in the center of Europe. My Germanic and Latin European cultural heritage influences my design as well as does my interest for Asian cultures. In addition Geneva is geographically very close to culturally very active cities as London, Milan or Paris.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
EB: During my design process there are three main aspects I give importance to. When starting a new project, I first want to have an abstract concept in my mind before starting a sketch. For example regarding my latest armchair Cubus, the idea emerged in my mind to use a slanted cube as the base for the design. I devote a significant amount of time to the search of these ideas, which I often find in geometry, mathematics and ornamentations, in modern and postmodern architecture, as well as in the microscopic and macroscopic realms of nature and space. Regarding the second aspect, when translating the abstract idea into a sketch, I give style, proportions, curves and shapes particular attention whereby my engineering eye allows me to find the right balance between aesthetics and the creations’ structural integrity and manufacturability. This process first takes place on a sheet of paper and thereafter on CAD system as it allows drawing variations more easily. Using different materials, textures, colors and finishes can completely change the character of the same design. I therefore spend increasingly more time experimenting with different combinations thereof. Whereas, in the past I tended to assess these variations mainly on the computer with renders, today I increasingly like to experiment in the workshop.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
EB: My preferred design objects at home are the lamp designed by Wilhelm Wagenfeld in 1923, the Gropius armchar F51 from 1920 both unfortunately only as replicas, a Chinese cabinet from the 19th century, my Ignacio Fleta guitar and my Les Paul Custom guitar with a flamed maple top.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
EB: Every day starts with two caffè espresso, checking news and design news. I have a medium term plan which I break down into a weekly plan and a “to do” list. Activities range from creative design activities and discussions with the manufacturing partner to marketing or administrative activities, interacting with (potential) customers or meeting with the gallery. I normally try to rapidly get rid of the administrative tasks to free my mind for creative activities.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
EB: The world of design and art is very diverse and evolving rapidly. I therefore believe that it is important to have a good understanding of the trends in different segments of the market. At the same time, I feel that it is important to keep one’s own original design language and style.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
EB: For me it is important to give a new design some time, to allow it to become more mature. Putting a newly made design aside for a few days allows looking at it with “new eyes” and making improvements. Going trough this iterative process a few times is what I call letting the design « age ».

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
EB: I believe that designers need a broad set of skills beside his artistic and design skills. He needs good marketing skills to understand well the needs of his customers. In the competitive world of today, a designer also needs good communication and public relations skills to communicate with clients and companies to gain visibility. He also needs good commercial skills to enable him to run a profitable business.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
EB: My primary design tools are paper, pen and eraser as well as CAD software and rendering software. It is however important for me to feed my inspiration with activities not directly related to design like music, travelling, photography and reading. My intellectual and cultural curiosity are also an important for my inspiration. During the design process, experimenting in the workshop with materials, textures and finishes has become increasingly more important part. My technical background as an engineer adds an important input regarding the feasibility of the projects.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
EB: Designing takes much time and deadlines are often tight. I personally use project management tools (i.e. Gant charts and to do lists) to plan and manage time in the best possible way. When working with external partners, it is very important to chose reliable partners and establish a good and close relationship with them to ensure that the deliveries are supplied in time and do not overthrow the planning.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
EB: The length of my projects is variable: it can take a few months up to one year. I am however moving away from a strictly linear design process towards a more experimental and iterative process where I practically experiment in the workshop with shapes, materials, colors, textures and detail solutions.

FS: What was your most important job experience?
EB: My most important professional experiences were my participation art fairs and in museum exhibitions such Artgenève in 2020 and 2019 with Gallery Patrick Gutknecht, PAD Geneva in 2018, my participation in Venice Design 2017 in the context of the Venice Art Biennale, my participation in Venice Design 2016 in the context of the Venice Architecture Biennale and my participation in the exhibition "Quasi Segreti" at the Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan in 2016.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
EB: My customers are mainly private customers appreciating exclusive designs with high quality craftsmanship and finishes.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
EB: So far, I have enjoyed most, working on design projects with few constraints because I felt that this allowed me to use my creativity at its best. Currently, I am working at projects with stronger constraints in terms of design and manufacturing complexity and I positively appreciate the additional challenge imposed on me by these constraints.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
EB: From a design perspective, I am working at designing pieces that are targeted at a larger audience and that are from a manufacturing perspective, less craftsmanship oriented. From a business perspective, I am working at expanding my distribution through partnerships and co-operations.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
EB: I conceive and design my creations on my own and work with my partners for the manufacturing. Thereby, the construction of a new creation is a cooperation in which my partner and I strive for the best solution.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
EB: I have worked on my new armchair “Cubus” based on a slanted Cube. I am currently working on additional pieces of furniture such as a stool, a side table and a sofa based on the same initial design concept as the armchair. I am also working on a new series of led technology based lamps.

FS: How can people contact you?
EB: I can be reached by phone or by email. Email : eb@artenemus.com Phone : +41 22 310 66 06


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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