At home with designer Sebastian Herkner
Sebastian Herkner finds inspiration in his extensive travels around the globe and the spirit of optimism of his adopted hometown of Offenbach
As seen in the April 2023 Global Interiors issue of Wallpaper* and accompanied by his iPhone snaps, we talk travel, inspirations and design discoveries with German designer Sebastian Herkner.
Interview: at home with Sebastian Herkner
Wallpaper*: Where do you currently live?
Sebastian Herkner: I have lived in Offenbach for more than half of my life. It’s the city where I studied product design and established my design studio. In addition to this apartment, my husband and I have a small apartment in Berlin to escape the studio routine from time to time.
W*: Can you tell us about your city?
SH: Offenbach was the German city of leather production. Famous brands including Goldpfeil and Montblanc have manufactured wallets and bags here. Since the decline of the industry, the city has tried to reinvent itself and find a new identity. I find this spirit of optimism very inspiring.
W*: How would you describe your home?
SH: Our home is always changing. We love to buy crafted objects on our holidays; an old wedding chair in India, bowls in Bangkok or a ceramic head in Sicily. They always remind us of special moments and show the beauty of manufacturing.
W*: What’s the story behind your favourite piece of furniture?
SH: The Boat of Life was a present from close friends for my 40th birthday. It was made for me by Indigenous people from the Colombian Amazon, and it shows the good and bad encounters in life. There are squirrels on top of the boat. Squirrels are actually running around our studio’s courtyard and the craftspeople did not know about it.
W*: How do you start your days?
SH: This is less romantic. I watch the news and read emails on my phone while lying in bed.
W*: What do you do to relax?
SH: I catch a train to Berlin for a long weekend, and visit galleries and cycle with friends around the city to discover the architecture and history. I am not a person who can relax by doing nothing. I need food for my mind.
W*: What are you reading at the moment?
SH: I am heading soon to Kathmandu in Nepal, to see the production of hand-knotted rugs, so I am reading some books about the country and culture to understand it better.
W*: Wallpaper* came for dinner, what would you cook?
SH: Let’s do something local from my home region, like Maultaschen, those big Swabian ravioli you find in Stuttgart.
W*: Where do you find inspiration?
SH: I think inspiration is everywhere. The bigger issue is to translate it into a unique and responsible design, that can then become a companion for generations.
W*: What are you working on at the moment?
SH: The presentation concept of a new colour palette, called Treasures, for German wall paint company Caparol Icons.
W*: What’s your next big launch?
SH: A new outdoor lighting collection, called Class, with Spanish company Vibia during Euroluce at Salone del Mobile 2023 (18-23 April). After more than two years working on it, I am excited to present the designs to the public.
W*: What do you enjoy most about your collaborations with brands?
SH: It is always a very personal decision to choose the right partners you want to work and share design ideas with. It is not about the name or the turnover, it is more on a human level. An intense relationship will result in successful products. I love to visit the workshops to understand the individual process behind the scenes, and to discuss possibilities with the craftspeople. That’s why it is necessary and also a privilege for me to travel to all my clients and their production facilities, from Colombia to Taiwan.
W*: What’s the last object you bought?
SH: A small garlic press by a Greek manufacturer that I found in a store in Paris.
W*: What trip are you most looking forward to?
We will go to the US for several weeks this summer, to travel around the Midwest, visiting states like South Dakota, since we know the east and west coast well already.
W*: What is your most recent design or art discovery?
SH: The Gallery Weekend in Berlin, which is held on the last weekend of April – it is my favourite art event of the year. There are many new exhibitions and open artist studios.
W*: What advice would you give to the next generation of creatives?
It is not relevant to live in one of the big design cities like London, Paris or Milan. The most important thing is to feel comfortable and free to foster your own creativity and unique design language.
W*: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have been?
SH: A chef. I think designing and cooking have a lot in common. You need the right tools and wonderful ingredients as well as fantasy. It is about creating emotions you can experience with all of your senses.
Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.
Rado’s ceramic watches take inspiration from the world’s great gardens
New additions to the Rado True Thinline watch collection reinterpret exotic plants
By Hannah Silver • Published
‘Meaningful disruption’: Heron Preston launches L.E.D. Studio, a convention-defying creative hub
Part art and design studio, part sustainability practice, Heron Preston’s L.E.D. Studio builds on the world he has built at his eponymous New York City-based fashion label. Here, he tells Wallpaper* more
By Pei-Ru Keh • Published
Exploring Punta del Este, the southern hemisphere’s hub for art and relaxation
Punta del Este offers everything, from party to relaxation; all enveloped in idyllic countryside and a rich cultural offering
By Rainbow Nelson • Published
At home with Kelly Wearstler
American designer Kelly Wearstler talks about her approach to interiors, her California homes, favourite LA spots, creative inspiration and more
By Rosa Bertoli • Last updated
Ritesh Gupta’s Useful School: ‘Creative education needs to centre on people of colour’
Creative industry veteran Ritesh Gupta on launching Useful School, a new virtual learning platform that puts people of colour front and centre
By Pei-Ru Keh • Last updated
Ilse Crawford judges Wallpaper* Design Awards 2022
London Design Medal laureate Ilse Crawford – part of the six-strong jury for the Judges’ Awards, the Wallpaper* Design Awards’ highest honours – on design for a better reality, and our worthy winners
By Rosa Bertoli • Last updated
Luca Guadagnino judges Wallpaper* Design Awards 2022
Italian film director Luca Guadagnino, who recently expanded his work into design and interiors, talks about his projects and judging the Wallpaper* Design Awards 2022
By Laura Rysman • Last updated
Nendo’s Oki Sato on challenges, new talent, and ‘taking the difficult way’
Oki Sato, founder of prolific Japanese studio Nendo, reflects on past and present challenges – including designing Tokyo’s Olympic cauldron – and, for Wallpaper’s 25th Anniversary Issue ‘5x5’ project, selects five young talents ready to pick up the torch
By Danielle Demetriou • Last updated
Formafantasma on their GEO-Design master’s programme, and designers thinking big
The Italian design duo – and Designer of the Year in the 2021 Wallpaper* Design Awards – are among our featured visionaries in ‘5x5’, Wallpaper's 25th anniversary project. They discuss their first year heading the GEO-Design master’s programme at Design Academy Eindhoven, educating students for a changing world, and their pick of five creative leaders of the future who are expanding the practice of design
By TF Chan • Last updated
New vision for Franco Maria Ricci’s art publishing legacy
Italian art collector and publisher Franco Maria Ricci passed away in September 2020. His nephew Edoardo Pepino was entrusted with his artistic legacy, including the world’s biggest bamboo maze and Ricci’s eponymous publishing house, which is set for a relaunch in late 2021
By Maria Cristina Didero • Last updated
Yves Behar on his design for good
On the occasion of his new monograph, Yves Behar: Designing Ideas, we talk to the Fuseproject founder on his career journey, technology and ‘the slow, winding journey of design’
By Jonathan Bell • Last updated