Artisanal approach is the key to create soulful design products.
Product designer Christian Haas merges the high efficiency of ultra-modern production techniques with good craftsmanship in order to give the products their souls in his design. His products look effortless, sophisticated yet still surprising thanks to his skill allowing him to reduce the design idea to its core and adding his creative spirit.
Your design work varies from tableware to glassware, from furniture to lighting and from interior concepts to special projects. Can you please tell us how your journey in design started and evolved by time?
During my studies, I focused on aesthetic design, building refined shapes with my bare hands rather than on sophisticated 2D visualizations. I developed an expertise on sensitive shapes and outlines what made it possible for me to design tableware and glassware in the beginning of my career. But since I get easily bored with things I constantly need to challenge myself. So lighting and furniture now seem more exciting to me and I feel kind of fresh designing them, almost like a beginner.
What fascinates me in your design is the fact that you create a pure and precise line with the touch of surprise which leads your work to an unexpected encounter. What is the magic behind it? Do you start with simple ideas or do you reduce the complications along the process of creation?
Usually, we discuss and experiment with many ideas in the beginning of the design process and after a while the strongest one survives and gets refined. It’s a tough process. In the end, our products should look effortless, sophisticated yet still surprising.
It is not a surprise that you collaborated with Japanese design firms such as Arita and Karimoku New Standard with your design being pure yet unique in the sense of discovery. I know that you travelled to Japan various times. How was your experience with Japanese brands in terms of the creative process?
I appreciate working with Japanese a lot. They are the kindest people, also when it comes to business relations. By getting older and more experienced, I realized that work takes a remarkable part of my life and I just want to work with people I feel comfortable with.
In general, the Japanese brands respect the initial idea very much and try their best to make things happen as the designer imagined them. And you can rely on them. A yes is a yes!
We live in the age of 3-D printers. Technology opens up new possibilities to designers concerning material, production and even communication. We can observe this also in your work. How do you merge this with the artisanal approach, which is easily seen in your work as well?
Ultra-modern production facilities often go hand in hand with real craftsmanship. The production facilities at Karimoku New Standard are a very good example for this. Where machines they are use are efficient it their max yet are combined with the knowledge and handwork of good craftsmen. The craftsmen give the product the final touch and the soul.
We use 3D printing since years mainly for first prototypes. But our approach is rather classical and I favor learnt materials.
Visual communication is gaining more and more importance in the current times as it is quicker and less complicated to communicate through images. This leads to average design IQ to grow. Does this phenomena challenge you as a designer?
As you can see at the furniture fair in Milan there are so many new products being launched every year but most of them do not survive even for 12 months. The world is flooded with new designs and even more with their images through social media. The physical experience (like simply sitting on a chair and trying out the comfort gets less important and average person gets quickly bored with pieces he sees too often. As a designer you have to ask yourself nowadays, if this specific chair/table you are developing is really adding value or if it is just another piece. If the answer is the second, just don’t do it.
In the last edition of Milan Design week we saw various works turning around gastronomical experience. You opened a restaurant called Mondo Deli with your partner in Porto. Can we interpret the gastronomical experience an extension of your work? How did you realize this idea?
It’s a big and challenging project owning a restaurant and not just being responsible for the interior. We wanted Mondo Deli to be a relaxed and friendly restaurant with delicious international food based on local ingredients from small Portuguese producers; something that was truly missing in Porto and we are still kind of pioneers of. Since the restaurant and the studio are in our house everything connects a bit and it feels like a big bunch of friends doing this project together.
Photo Credit: Mormor
You have moved your studio from Munich to Paris and finally to Porto. How does being in-between different cities and respectively cultures effect your work?
Honestly there is no big influence. I see myself as real European, not German, just European. I love the diversity of our continent. But living in South Europe changed my way of working, I have a better work-life balance now.
Who do you follow and see as young emerging designers in the creative scene?
Formafantasma are surprising and poetic, I also like the work of Ferreol Babin because of his archaic approach.
Don't forget to take a look at our interview with Formafantasma here.
What do you think about the collectible value of design? What kind of a collaboration you seek and develop with the galleries?
I truly dislike limited editions if it is just for the sake of it and are realized to speed up sales. Design is not art and it should still be accessible. I like working with galleries because they are not so restrictive regarding production costs. Since these projects are mainly related to small productions they are very flexible and fulfilling. The result is immediate. Whereas designing for brands it can take up to three years until the project is presented to the end user.
Can you please tell us about your future projects?
New Furniture for Karimoku New Standard, lighting and furniture for a new brand (can’t tell the name) that will be launched at ‘Design Shanghai’ in Spring 2018, pieces for KARAKTER, Denmark, Tableware for Mèze, Portugal, Bathroom Designs for Villeroy & Boch, Coat Rack and Umbrella Stands for Schönbuch, Germany.