The German designer Konstantin Grcic channelled an early penchant for traditional craft into his current role as an advocate for cutting-edge materials, new processes and avant-garde forms. After training under the craftsman John Makepeace, he went on to the Royal College of Arts in London before opening his first design studio in Munich in 1991. 

Grcic’s output is eclectic and far-reaching, from the deceptively simple geometric metal frame and concrete base of the ‘Chair One’ for the Italian manufacturer Magis, to the graphical branding and sleek black-painted forms of Alex Thomson’s Vendée Globe racing yacht Hugo Boss. The studio’s work frequently ventures into creating physical spaces and installations, as well as producing furniture with a strong architectural component that can be arranged in multiple configurations. Now based in Berlin, Grcic collaborates with high- profile brands including Cassina, ClassiCon, Flos, Muji, Nespresso, Vitra and Smart, for whom he created the Smart Mobile Disco installation in 2018. 

Smart Mobile Disco
Design Smart Mobile Disco, 2018, K-MB Vitra © LF

Inspiration comes from all facets of visual culture, from innovations such as carbon fibre to traditional crafts, including those of the Orient: ‘I am a great admirer of Chinese wooden furniture from the Ming dynasty,’ says Grcic. ‘I find their combination of structural logic and formal beauty so compelling.’ The studio’s Mingx collection of chairs for Driade takes inspiration from traditional Chinese furniture, using laser-cut and folded steel instead of wood, yet retaining the elegant traditional silhouette of the originals. §

A portrait of Konstantin Grcic
Konstantin Grcic. Photography: Markus Jans