Azure catches up with Ingo Maurer, the 86-year-old German design icon, to discuss his guiding principles, the work of young designers and being an inspiration to creatives.
“Surprising and unconventional. Controversial. Free of restrained thinking and the boredom of ubiquitous, repetitive designs.”
Ingo Maurer’s description of his new Luzy series, launched this past April in Milan, could just as easily be applied to the designer himself. Recalling earlier works such as Canned Light, which is based on a Campbell’s soup tin, Luzy is the latest of Maurer’s products to give new life and surprising whimsy to found objects and familiar forms – in this case a rubber glove. Azure caught up with the 86-year-old icon in Germany, just weeks before the unveiling. While he could only hint at what he was set to reveal in Italy, he did offer some insight into just what makes one of the industry’s most inventive minds tick.
On including the user in the design process: I don’t want to be a dictator. For instance, with the Zettel’z lamps [which involve the user hanging 80 sheets of paper from a metal frame], you’re my co-designer, and that’s what I’ve always liked. But am I ever unhappy with the results? Sometimes
I almost get a heart attack.
On judging the work of young designers: That’s a very difficult thing. You really do have to respect them, even if it’s wrong. They’re young people who want to make it; you cannot crush them, you know? It’s still a kind of fertilizer for young people, even if they haven’t succeeded yet.
On being an inspiration to other creatives: If ever I’m discouraged, I just have to look around and see the influence I’ve had in many ways. I’m proud to be a non-commercial company that succeeds. I think it’s amazing what we do.
On what keeps him going after more than half a century as a designer: My best tool is still my own mind; I still enjoy creating at 86. Design is very important work, but people become too serious and too constrained. I’m very much for controversial dialogues.
His guiding principles: It’s important to feel where the grass grows, and to have your mind and your heart open. Risk is important as well, in all areas of life. And always be honest with yourself – be the one you are, or discover yourself.