January/ February 2013, Page 45 – 47
How did your idea come about to develop a holistic concept for sustainable living from furniture to home accessories and architecture?
The ideas developed from our life paths, mine and that of my business partner Andrea Herold. At the end of the 80s, as a cabinet maker, I began to be interested in sustainable materials that are implemented in high-quality design. Later as an architect, I always followed the development of the sustainability scene, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to apply it directly to my job. It was a logical consequence to become self-employed with these topics. Conveniently, my business partner comes from a completely different area – as an executive assistant in large companies, she had insight into structures and covers the organizational area. So we complement each other perfectly.
We had built up a network of designers from all over Europe over the years. Many of the innovative products can be admired in design museums or at trade fairs around the world, but they are not easy to buy. We thought that was a shame and created a platform for these designers to show their products and tell the stories behind the designs in order to make them known to a broader public.
How would you describe a typical customer of your online shop or agency? What are his typical wishes or requirements?
In any case, a high affinity for design and the demand for high quality. In addition, there is the joy of buying individual products that tell their own story and are also made sustainably. The same applies to agency projects: Here, too, there is a high level of awareness among our customers and the desire for unusual concepts and very good materials.
We advise companies on sustainable, healthy interiors. We create architectural concepts that reflect the company’s philosophy. We keep finding that a lot of clarification is needed when it comes to sustainability. We are therefore involved with events such as workshops, lecture series and encourage dynamic exchange in order to drive development forward. We support the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) and the “Hohenlohe Bionics Center” project, which is currently being planned.
Which materials for furnishings and interior design are particularly interesting from your point of view? Do you have personal favorites, e.g. Wood because of your experience as a cabinet maker?
For me wood is still one of the most wonderful materials and fascinates me again and again. As a renewable raw material, depending on how it is processed, it has an incomparable feel, a wonderful scent and the ability to “breathe”. The properties of clay in architecture and of felt in interiors are also so varied that these two materials are clearly my favorites.
In your opinion, when can a product be called “sustainable” with a clear conscience?
That is not that easy to answer, because the term “sustainable” is not only used inflationarily, but is often defined in completely different ways. In the case of products, there are various criteria that make up sustainability, for example the materials used, production, transport, etc. InteriorPark. has therefore developed its own eco icons that transparently represent individual criteria and are assigned to each product. In addition, the detailed product descriptions show the sustainable background and tell the stories that stand behind them and make the products something special.
What distinguishes successful home design in every respect?
If it reflects the individual personality of the resident and does not just follow a current trend. Functionality, aesthetics and the spatial experience play a decisive role here.
Are there any fundamental points or criteria that you should use when designing your home?
The needs and requirements of the residents are of course in the foreground. A single certainly has completely different wishes than a family with children, whose daily routine is completely different.
We all perceive rooms not only visually, but also with all other senses. This is more than just placing individual elements in a room. Rooms are defined by walls, ceilings and floors and light. The choice of materials with their structures, colors, acoustics and light create moods that affect us directly. Successful spaces inspire us, they stimulate us or let us relax.
What are the most common mistakes in interior design and when choosing furniture and home accessories?
Unfortunately, the price still plays too dominant a role. Short-lived products are acquired that sooner or later are no longer “trendy” and are disposed of. In Germany we scrap around 7 million tons of furniture every year, most of which would still be usable. Furniture and home accessories shouldn’t be disposable products, but an expression of our lifestyle. As products are being developed ever faster, the quality of the design also suffers. Inferior materials, which sometimes emit harmful substances, are processed. We have armchairs by Dieter Rams from the 1960s in our office. Because they were already very expensive back then, they were cared for accordingly and the design is still timeless.
Which new alternative materials for furniture and interior design are particularly promising?
I am very excited to see what will develop in the field of bio-based plastics in the near future. With the background that our resources are finite and some are becoming more and more expensive, research here offers completely new perspectives. However, these must be taken up and implemented by designers. Which is not only formally difficult, but also because two worlds collide. That is why we support the Baden-Württemberg state company and provide the interface between researchers, manufacturers and designers. The progress made so far is very promising and we are confident that the first chair with bio-based elements will be presented at imm Cologne at the beginning of next year.
What trends are you currently observing in interior design?
Modern design today has to be appealing, functional and ecologically harmless. The sensual experience in designing the personal environment reflects the emotionality and passion of the residents. The joy of good design is enriched by the conscious decision for a sustainable lifestyle. A look over the decades makes it clear how contemporary tastes, fashion, history and technical innovations influence the style of living, which is always an expression of socio-political circumstances. For years the trend in the interior was towards the use of hard materials such as concrete, stone and glass. Now the aesthetics of soft, natural materials is being rediscovered.
What has been your most demanding project for living space design so far? What was the particular challenge here?
A roof extension in the listed old building. There was next to nothing, neither electricity, gas or other installations. The roof was not insulated and there were no windows, just small hatches. The design over two levels should fulfill various functions, show the old character, appear open and airy. The feel-good factor played a major role. All of this was to be realized with a very limited budget, which was only possible through good planning, a lot of experience and often improvisation. In the end, the atmosphere of the individual rooms and the different room effects impressed everyone.