Sebastian Bergne Q&A

 Sebastian Bergne with wine bottle
(Image credit: Sebastian Bergne)

We caught up with the designer and challenged him on his love for the bottle and whether an own-name label might be in the offing…

Why, apart from maybe the obvious reasons, the fascination with wine?

I’m married to a French woman and we’ve friends in France with vineyards. Combined with the 8 years I’ve just spent living in Italy, I’ve developed quite an amateur interest in wine.

How did the exhibition come about?

I moved back to London last September and Daniel Charny, the gallery’s curator, wanted to reintroduce me to the London scene with an exhibition of my work.

Why did you decide to do a new project instead of a retrospective?

Daniel’s agenda is not so much about retrospectives and I’ve always been someone who looks forward, not back.

You have a huge back catalogue of industrial design for a range of manufacturers, what was it like to work under your own name?

It was invigorating and enthusing, an opportunity to test the market with more speculative designs than if I’d been working on a commission.

So was it more of a creative experiment than a business plan?

Well the majority of it was funded by me (with the exception of the Arts Council who funded the glasswork) so it was quite speculative business-wise too.

Is an own-name brand the direction you’re intending to go now?

It depends on the results of the exhibition. If there’s a lot of interest I’ll develop my own line but if it’s interest based on a few select products then I’ll try and develop specific pieces with specific manufacturers.

Has the process of overseeing the manufacturing yourself affected the outcome of the designs?

All the designs are functional, sellable products rather than prototypes, so I automatically focussed on simpler designs. Raw materials were very important and I’ve used only UK-based manufacturers to actually make the pieces. I think each piece is directed by the material it’s made from, be it stone, glass, copper, cork or wood.

Limited edition design is quite a topical area at the moment – did this factor in your decision to do the project?

I think the design scene has opened out a lot in the last couple of years, creating many more ways of making, presenting and selling design. But for me this project was about having direct contact with every part of the process – I’m not interested in the value accrued through exclusivity.

Was the idea and process of designing more important than the final product then?

Maybe insomuch as the consumer wasn’t necessarily the target for everything – I think some of the pieces would be more suitable for a supermarket or a restaurant or bar. The important thing for me was to experiment by taking this one theme and looking at it from as many angles as possible. Having said this, the products themselves are of course important and how people respond to them is the final stage in the process.

How would you define design?

Design is creating the environment in which we live. It’s important that there’s a constant evolution and improvement - be it mechanical, technological or aesthetic - in everything we use, so as we feel like we’re moving forward.

Which single piece of design do you wish had your name on it?

The wine bottle.

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.