German precision: the 'Mbrace' rocking chair by Sebastian Herkner for Dedon
A focus on detail and a deep respect for traditional craft drives the work of the young German designer Sebastian Herkner. His most recent project, a bold interpretation of wingback, lounger and rocker chairs – including an optional footstool – for hand-woven outdoor furniture specialist Dedon, embodies these key design principles with an intriguing transparent triaxial weave and distinctive cocoon-like forms.
The sculptural designs expand upon Dedon’s signature low-slung sleek style and classic neutral palette, adding a fresh touch of colour in pepper, Atlantic blue and spice red. A base of simple teak legs also mark the first time Dedon has incorporated timber within a product.
The designer says he usually retreats to the solitude of his Frankfurt home to jumpstart the initial design process, hand-sketching concepts in colour: ‘It is a very personal process and I need my silence.’ With the concept established, he returns to his studio where the sketches are translated into 1:10 scale cardboard models ‘to help develop shape’, followed by a larger model in wood and cardboard to help refine the internal frame. ‘Computer technology is useful but a model really helps to get as close as possible to check measurements,’ he explains.
The innovative double-layered moiré weave seen in 'Mbrace' was inspired by textiles, to create the sort of openness seen in Henry Moore’s sculptures that the designer says ‘allows the sculpture to connect with the outside’. The team turned to digital programming to experiment with its complex colours and patterns before prototypes were created by hand at Dedon’s Cebu workshop. ‘The technical production of the fibres by an extrusion machine is fascinating but it is the craft side that makes it a sensual product,’ Herkner explains. ‘It’s an interesting collaboration between German engineering with Filipino craftsmanship.’