The German duo embraces the future with high-tech furnishings, lighting and art pieces.
CARS AND GRAFFITI
Landuris: I grew up in a big Greek-German family, and my father ran an auto shop. I hung out there with friends, and we would tinker with ancient, rusty cars and bring them back to the streets. At first, I did toys and mock-ups, but later I worked on designs. That might have been my first serious attempt at industrial design, but it took me a long time to find my profession. I studied business, then I worked in film, and I finally found my destination as a designer. Horst and I met at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich.
Wittmann: I took my first steps in design at age 12, when I discovered spray paint. My friends and I were addicted to graffiti. It was dangerous, but it was also about creating concepts, shapes and symbolic details; working with proportions and colour; learning and improving skills. I still have the same fun and challenges today as I had as a graffiti artist, but now I’m addicted to the complexity of three-dimensional objects – and it’s all legal.
H.W.: We have only been to a couple of fairs. We learned about the PR machine and the scene, which is important, but we are more into the work itself.
K.L.: We are in constantly questioning the “pleasing” model. We don’t make things to please people or conform to the market. We make things because we love what we have made, because we have solved a problem and come to good results.
BREAKING INTO MANUFACTURING
K.L.: We met Jerry Helling, the president of Bernhardt Design, in Milan in 2007. Afterwards, he asked us to send him some thoughts for a new piece for the company. After analyzing their portfolio, we decided to create a bench and a stool, multi-functional seating elements for private as well as public rooms, in a timeless shape: a thin cushion with a light frame. In a gallery, for example, the big bench can offer different seating possibilities and provide views of the room from many angles. Bernhardt liked the idea, and so began the collaboration. The product development was a pleasant ping-pong game; we sent our ideas, they gave feedback, and in the end we were all happy with the results.
Kyudo came after this. Kundalini saw our prototype and took it on. We had to make small changes to fulfill some electrical and mechanical requirements. And we had to change the name, since the original, Troja, which reminded us of the tail of the Trojan Horse, is a bad word in Italian.
H.W.: For the Flugschau propeller, the Filser & Gräf gallery asked us to create something that was neither furniture nor a lamp. Other than that, they gave us total freedom. It was fun to shoot a big propeller into the sky for no functional purpose. We were like two boys trying to build a rocket or a spaceship and launch it.
K.L.: Our basic premise is, let’s look into the future, guess what it might be like, and strive to capture this in our products. We are constantly trying to imagine what kinds of materials and technologies will be available in the coming years, how to work with them, and how they will change the demands of and reasons for how and why things are made. The Lefty chair, for example, is a combination of a super-light aluminum frame and a 3‑D-printed polyurethane seat shell; and Supercool is an LED fixture with minimal dimensions and high adaptability, made for a changing world of population growth and globalization.
H.W.: And with its shape and its otherworldly LED luminosity, there’s something “ET phone home” about the Kyudo light.
H.W.: We’re inspired by unexpected clients. For instance, we made a prototype lightweight chair for a cycling company; it didn’t go through, but the concept was cool. We just finished Funpark, a concrete furniture line for a German company, Godelmann, which is in the business of laying sidewalks. It was inspired by the idea of borderless structures and integrated transformation of functions. It was great to do the opposite of movable furniture, and to work with a company that has never thought this way before.
We are also designing a chess set for a traditional German iron foundry, Pure Cast. Since chess is a traditional game, we used sideways thinking to reimagine it for the future. Our solution was to create a 3‑D graphic language by giving the figurines an overall look with an equivalent base and a stick to move them. The front shields differentiate the figurines. We discovered that holding steel over a flame for varying times changes its colour, so we separated the two teams by flame-inflected colour. The chessboard will launch either later this year or early next. We see this kind of outside-the-box collaboration as the next frontier of globalization.
Born in Munich in 1979
Born in Munich in 1980
A send-up of Arnold Schwarzenegger on Saturday Night Live
2009–10 Diplomas in interior architecture, Academy of Fine Arts, Munich
Furniture and lighting designers
Special mention for Kyudo, Salone del Mobile, 2007
Bernhardt Design, Godelmann, Kundalini, Macrolux, Filser & Gräf gallery, Hotel Bayerische Hof, Pure Cast