ICONIC ALL-ROUNDER:
ROLF BENZ 594 BY SEBASTIAN HERKNER

Sebastian Herkner knows a lot about iconic design. Perhaps the most obvious evidence to support this is the new high-back seat, Rolf Benz 594, by the “Designer of the Year 2019”. The comfortable seating furniture with a finely balanced curved back, firmly upholstered seat shell and pleasantly soft seat cushions looks like a hug in furniture form. We met the award-winning designer in his studio in Offenbach and talked about inspiration, sustainability and life and work during these Covid-19 times.

Sebastian, you designed the Rolf Benz 909 dining table a year ago. Your new Rolf Benz 594 armchair has just been launched. How long did it take to develop it and what was your biggest challenge?

We worked on the armchair for a year and a half. The biggest challenge was definitely the unusual shape of the armchair. Right from the start, we wanted to create an iconic piece of seating furniture. Rolf Benz wanted a high-back seat with a unique look, an unmistakable design. You have to feel your way with that sort of task. You start by drawing, you make a few sketches and then you sit down at the computer. Working with the artisans and prototype engineers on site at Rolf Benz was especially crucial here.

The form finding was a multi-stage process. We made lots of real, upholstered prototype models with lots more drawing in between. Sometimes, we even drew directly on the prototypes with marker pen! Take a bit off here. Add a few degrees there. Change the contour here. Of course, the computer helps with all that. But ultimately, you have to experience the actual object with all your senses, quite literally you need to “sit with” the armchair for a while. Walk around it. Perhaps even kneel in front of it. Look at it from different perspectives. And gradually, you get that little bit closer to the final armchair. It’s a really exciting process but it’s time-consuming.

In your opinion, where does the armchair look best and what is it especially good for?

Rolf Benz 594 is a real all-rounder. It can be staged in many different ways and adapts well to different rooms and usage scenarios. It can be used as a standalone piece of furniture such as a cosy armchair for reading and relaxing. Or it can be positioned in a group of chairs, in an open plan office, for example, or a hotel lobby. For meetings, interviews or for small talk.

Which combination of materials do you like best for this armchair? Do you have a personal favourite?

That’s a difficult question, there are so many options. The armchair can be individualised in many different ways. However, since we have lots of concrete at home, the base frame made of natural oak would look really good. For the cover, I would probably go for something more structured or fluffy. I think bouclé is great, for example. Or even velvet. That also makes the whole thing feel lovely.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I find it really easy to find inspiration. I'm really curious and I’m observant. You have to be very open to pick up on different stimuli. It can happen anywhere. Even in your normal everyday life, you can always notice something exciting and suddenly discover a wonderful colour or an unusual combination of materials, for example. I also find inspiration in the studio. In the archives, or while talking with my team. In museums or on trips, too, of course. And sometimes, it also helps to watch craftsmen as they work to find new solutions. You simply have to remain open.

Are there any role models who have particularly influenced you and how you work?

I find it difficult to list certain designers or people. You quickly forget one or other of them. That’s why I prefer to refer to the artisans who so cleverly realise our designs behind the scenes. All of them at Rolf Benz do such amazing work and their know-how is incredible. It’s knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation. That’s what I think is exemplary. We are extremely fortunate to have master craftsman training here in Germany. It’s a valuable cultural asset and I really appreciate it. 

Many successful designers move to Berlin. You, on the other hand, opened your design studio in Offenbach 13 years ago. What makes Offenbach the perfect location for you?

Offenbach might not be one of the most attractive cities, admittedly. It was more a case of love at second sight. It’s a small city. It’s manageable. But I feel happy here. It’s my home. My friends are here. On top of that, Offenbach is a very multicultural city and therefore full of inspiration. It has lots of great shops and restaurants with different cultural influences, all within a very small space. But of course, Offenbach has a convenient location right in the middle of Europe and it’s close to an airport. I’m very fortunate that I travel a lot. I can quickly get to Rolf Benz in the Black Forest by train. I can go on a day trip to Venice. Or to a trade fair in Paris. That’s a huge bonus. But, of course, things have changed a great deal thanks to Covid-19. These days, I’m on the phone more often or approve things over Skype or Zoom. That also works pretty well. It’s meant that I have got to know Offenbach again in recent months. The farmer’s market and the great things it has to offer, for example. That really adds to my quality of life.

You travel the world a lot. Did any country particularly fascinate you on your travels?

Travelling is a privilege. I really enjoy it. When I was a child, going Christmas shopping with my parents in Stuttgart was always a highlight. Today, the circle has widened a little, and I occasionally travel to Taiwan or Columbia. It’s incredibly inspiring. But I don’t think it matters how far you travel. What’s more important are the people you meet and what’s specific to the area. When I travel, I want to discover what’s special. The B-side of a city, just like a record. That’s what’s exciting. It could be in Taipei, or in Ulm. You don’t always have to go as far away as possible. Just have a good look around, wherever you are. Covid-19 is currently giving us all a chance to completely rediscover our surrounding area. I’m taking that opportunity.

What distinguishes creations by Sebastian Herkner? What’s important to you?

I pay special attention to materiality, colour, quality and craftsmanship. I notice that quality and longevity are becoming more important to people again. Sustainability is gaining in importance. This is good. I don’t want to make products that are trendy and then thrown away after 6 months. I want to make products that last. Life-long companions that would ideally also make subsequent generations happy. This also means products that can be repaired or, in the case of seating furniture, reupholstered. Our resources are becoming scarcer. We have to think differently and keep sight of the whole process. That’s what I think is so great at Rolf Benz. They still manufacture on site in the Black Forest. On other words, short channels, and of course, sustainable quality.

In your designs, you interpret characteristics from different societal and cultural contexts and create artefacts with a unique personality. Which observations went into the Rolf Benz 594 armchair?

Everyday life is becoming increasingly hectic. We run from A to B and don’t really take any notice of our environment. Our work processes are becoming faster and faster. We are attached to our cell phone, laptop and tablet and life is increasingly digital. Tactile experiences are becoming obsolete. Our high-back seat is a response to this development and is intended to be a place where you can retreat. Something real and tangible. The keyword here was cocooning. A place you can sink into. A place to sit back and arrive. To dive in and breathe deeply. Somewhere you can relax, contemplate, have a quick power nap or read a book – but of course, it’s also a great place to check your e-mails or surf the net. If that’s what you want to do.

Your list of awards is incredibly long. How does it feel to be “Designer of the Year 2019” and how important are titles and awards to you?

Of course, it’s an acknowledgement. Especially for the team. For the company. For the effort. For all the work that goes into product development. But I prefer it when I see my products on Instagram, for example, with the hashtag #SebastianHerkner. Then I can see where the products ended up. The context they are used in. Who treated themselves. Or even who saved up for it because they absolutely had to have the product. The background stories are exciting, and that means much more to me, actually. It’s also great when I go to a hotel and suddenly find one of my tables. Those are the best moments for me.

What do you like doing when you’re not creating pioneering designs?

Creativity is my passion. That’s why I don’t really think of work as a job. It’s more of a privilege. I get to do something that I really like doing. The variety is exciting. It’s not as if I’ve been working for 8 hours and come home feeling completely exhausted. Everything’s much easier when you can do something that you enjoy.

Can good design change the world?

Changing the world doesn't necessarily require good design. But a designer has a pretty big responsibility. They can influence how things are used. How we recycle them. For me, personally, it’s got nothing to do with creating hip products that lie on the shelf for a season and end up on the rubbish tip two years later. I think that we, as designers, have a certain responsibility, As a result, we can certainly also help shape the world a little. Less, but better. Buy less, choose better. I think we can change the world with that. Of course, designers alone can’t do that. But we can, of course, provide an impetus, encourage discussions and contribute towards making the world a little better with responsible design.

BERLIN LOFT STYLE IN STILWERK
WELCOME TO THE NEW ROLF BENZ HAUS

Kantstraße 17 in the Berlin district of Charlottenburg has been the premium address for exclusive furniture, selected design products and high-quality lifestyle items since 1999. The stilwerk concept store, located right next to Berlin’s Ku’damm, showcases 40 shops to a demanding, design-conscious public. ROLF BENZ HAUS was there right from the start and has been attracting visitors ever since. The store has just been extensively refurbished. We talk to long-standing manager and experienced interior design expert Alexandros Chomatopoulos.

Mr Chomatopoulos, the past few weeks have been particularly eventful for you and your team. Are you pleased with the results of the refurbishment in ROLF BENZ HAUS Berlin?

Yes, very. It was really worth it. We’ve made all sorts of changes, you could almost say we’ve turned the business inside out. The individual living scenarios are much less disjointed now, and we have consciously designed any that still are to make them less obvious. This makes everything feel much wider, more open and spacious, highlighting the loft character of our business. That’s a real advantage for our furniture. I have to say, I really like our new look.

How has the redesign been received by your customers?

Initial customer responses have been unanimously positive. The refurbishment took place while we were still open. We worked intensively on the store’s new look for two weeks, inspired by the international ROLF BENZ store concept. Our customers weren’t especially disturbed by the refurbishments, quite the opposite: sometimes I had the impression that many of them wanted to pick up the paint roller and join in. Lots of customers were really interested and wanted to know exactly what was going on. Very occasionally, people were afraid that we might be closing, but we were always able to clear up this misunderstanding quickly. We’ve been based here as ROLF BENZ HAUS in stilwerk in Berlin for 21 years. We are the international flagship for the ROLF BENZ brand in Germany’s capital, as it were, and will continue to be so in future. The only difference is that these refurbishments have made us even more attractive to our customers.

ROLF BENZ has been one of the pioneers of German design culture for over 50 years. How do you explain this success?

“Made in Germany” is still an important factor for many customers. The company’s background in the Black Forest is also highly esteemed, I think. What’s most important is certainly the extremely high quality products that ROLF BENZ has been reliably providing for decades. Let me give you an example: time and again, we have customers come to us who bought a ROLF BENZ sofa 15 or 20 years ago. The furniture is still in good shape and doesn’t even need to be reupholstered. They just want to have a new cover. The sofa is still perfectly functional, even after so many years. ROLF BENZ fits in perfectly at a time when sustainability is becoming increasingly important. Of course, the timeless ROLF BENZ design is also a significant factor contributing to the company’s success, not to mention first-rate functionality. Sofas from ROLF BENZ are never just “sitting machines”, they are perennially elegant.

The ROLF BENZ range now includes an enormous product selection for diverse lifestyles: relaxed living areas for relaxing, cubicsofa design classics, flexible multi-functional furniture – and even chairs, dining tables, beds and accessories. Do you think there’s a typical ROLF BENZ customer?

No, I don’t think so. That might have been the case before, older people often came to buy high-quality ROLF BENZ furniture for their living rooms. But you can’t make sweeping statements these days. In my view, ROLF BENZ with its versatile range now appeals to a wider audience and different age groups. Of course, ROLF BENZ also picks up on certain trends, but the furniture is never over-the-top trendy. You can always see the ROLF BENZ signature clearly in every item of furniture. In any case, all ROLF BENZ customers have high standards when it comes to quality and design. It’s precisely these customers that are attracted to stilwerk in Berlin.

Do you have a favourite product, Mr Chomatopoulos?

Let me think about that, they have made so many incredible products.

If you’re asking me about my current favourite, then that’s obviously the ROLF BENZ LIV sofa system from Italian designer Luca Nichetto. It really is fabulous. International design at the highest level. Not only is it exceptionally elegant, it’s also incredibly flexible. I get really excited about it.

How would you describe your personal style of living?

My living room has a desk, media furniture, a sofa and a cupboard. That’s it. Less is more. That might sound a little trite, but it’s really important to me and that saying sums up best how I feel. What I really don’t need is a crammed-full apartment. I prefer individual, high-quality pieces of furniture that I love. So I’d rather go without that third side table or fourth lamp and prefer to have those things around me that I really want to keep for a long time.

Thank you for the inspirational conversation, Mr Chomatopoulos. We wish you and your team continued success in the newly designed ROLF BENZ HAUS Berlin.

Pictures: Sandro Jödicke | whitedesk

VALET STAND, VALID DESIGN

Some things are nice to look at. Some things are practical. And some things are both: nice to look at and practical. The Rolf Benz 908 valet stand clearly belongs to the latter category. Whether used as a lamp holder, a stand for the dressing room or wardrobe, or as a holder for scarves or bags, it always looks exceptionally elegant whatever its role and can easily stand on its own as a sculptural piece of art. The dapper all-rounder is based on a design by the Cologne-based design studio kaschkasch, founded in 2011 by Florian Kallus and Sebastian Schneider. We spoke with the two trained carpenters and product designers about their work, their love of craftsmanship and the future of interior design.

Hello Florian, hello Sebastian. Tell us, how did your cooperation with Rolf Benz come about and what is it based on?

Florian Kallus: We’ve been in contact with Rolf Benz for many years and we regularly discuss our work and new ideas. Companies like Rolf Benz – with their in-house production – are always a blessing for us as designers. It’s fantastic to experience and accompany the craftsmanship at the German site. Our collaboration with Rolf Benz is lots of fun. The prototype meetings are always extremely productive and very friendly as well. The details that we discuss in these meetings can be tried and tested immediately, which is a great advantage. When we presented our design for the valet stand Rolf Benz 908, the people at Rolf Benz were immediately enthusiastic – we could get started more or less right away.

Sebastian Schneider: We always try to find partners who are on our wavelength. Partners who share our appreciation of good design and how we always try to get the best result out of each design. With Rolf Benz, we felt that they were the right fit from the very beginning. We were immediately impressed by the company’s high quality and professionalism.

 

Where does the inspiration for your work come from?

Florian Kallus: For me personally, anything can be a source of inspiration. A good conversation, a sudden thought, interesting architecture, a detail in road construction or an artist’s work. For the valet stand, we were inspired by Pablo Picasso and his one line drawings. That’s a very strong series. After seeing those drawings for the first time, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Basically, free art is a rich source of inspiration for me. Although it is usually very different from design, there are still some parallels.

Sebastian Schneider: It’s pretty much the same for me. Sometimes I find inspiration in normal everyday things. For example, when I inspect the rubbish bin in the pedestrian zone closely and everyone around me is wondering, what on earth is he doing? Sometimes I’m inspired by Florian, if he shows me a sketch of a mirror, for instance, and I spontaneously see a lamp in it. And sometimes the specific work process creates inspiration, if a project takes a completely different direction than intended. However, design work is much more than inspiration. Ultimately it’s also craftsmanship. Little by little you have to work towards your goal – that’s how it is for us, anyway. Inspiration by itself isn't enough. You don’t just have a good idea and the rest takes care of itself, it’s not that simple.

Florian Kallus, Design Studio Kaschkasch

„For the valet stand, we were inspired by Pablo Picasso and his one line drawings. That’s a very strong series. After seeing those drawings for the first time, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. “

The keyword here is versatility: thenew furniture range Rolf Benz 931 (coffee table, shelving, serving trolley) and the valet stand Rolf Benz908 are extremely versatile and can be used in different ways. Does an object always have to fulfil several functions for you?

Sebastian Schneider: No, sometimes that can even have a negative impact on a design. Generally, though, function and user friendliness play a central role in our designs and we often discuss this in the team. I like multifunctionality, but only when it’s done subtly and casually.

Florian Kallus: I think that a chair isn’t just a chair. Depending on how you use it, it can also be a valet stand, a bedside table or a doorstop. That’s why I consider multifunctional furniture to be desirable.

Where would you use Rolf Benz 908 or Rolf Benz 931? Are these pieces of furniture intended for a certain furnishing style?

Florian Kallus: I think the valet stand works almost anywhere in the home, whether that’s in a walk-in wardrobe, a bedroom or a living room – there are no limits to how it can be used.

Sebastian Schneider: The boundaries between different living spaces are becoming more and more blurred. Today, the dining room, living room and kitchen are often in one and the same room. Different living styles are increasingly being combined. And in these times of working from home, even the office chair can be found at the dining table. Furniture from the Rolf Benz 931 range is extremely flexible thanks to its rollers, so it can be moved easily from A to B. I don’t see it being used in a special location or in a specific environment. The furniture should be used wherever its owner feels is right and where it looks good.

Quarantine, contact restrictions, working from home – people have spent significantly more time at home in recent months. To what extent does this development change our homes? What does thefuture of interior design look like?

Florian Kallus: That question was on our minds even before the pandemic. I personally think that rooms will become even more versatile in future. Even though I can easily think about designs while sitting on my sofa, I believe that clearly defined rooms – such as our studio – help one to stay focussed. I wouldn’t want to compromise on that by any means. As is so often the case, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. One thing’s for sure: it will become even more flexible but remain just as exciting, in any event.

 

Pictures: Thomas Wiuf Schwartz

日本にフラッグシップ店がオープン
ROLF BENZ goes Tokio

世界最大級の都市、東京。その人口密度はベルリンの2倍、そしてカナダ全土の人口とほぼ同じくらいの約3800万人を誇っている。大勢の人々がひしめく中、誰もが礼儀正しく秩序を守っているのは日本ならではだろう。この大都会の都心にある青山エリアは特に人気の高いショッピングエリアとして知られており、ファッションとインテリアの多くのラグジュアリーブランドが軒を連ねている。

インターナショナル・ラグジュアリー・ブランドが集まる南青山エリア

人々がラグジュアリーを求めて訪れるショッピングスポットのひとつが表参道周辺のエリアだ。ここではハイエンドなショッピングを楽しむ以外にも、安藤忠雄、隈研吾、槇文彦を始めとする著名な建築家の魅力的な建築や、根津美術館、ブルーノート東京など有名なカルチャースポットを訪れることができる。この南青山に今年の1月に日本初のROLF BENZフラッグシップ店がオープンした。

最高品質の„Made in Germany“空間

約370㎡の面積でROLF BENZは上品な「Made in Germany」のリビング空間を提案している。このストアコンセプトは、ロルフベンツの長年のパートナーでもあるハンブルグのデザインスタジオ「labsdesign」により開発された。このフラッグシップストアはエンドユーザー向けだけではなく日本の設計者又は日本に滞在している外国の設計者をターゲットにしている。そのため、本国ナーゴルトにある本社で研修を受けた専属のセールスチームが、個々のニーズに合わせてクライアントのプロジェクトをサポートができる体制となっている。ここでも日本人の親切さとホスピタリティを、世界中のロルフベンツストアと同様に堪能することができる。

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ケルン国際家具見本市 imm2020年
2020年代の新たなインテリアトレンド

2020年でついに21世紀の20年代がスタートし、凄まじいスピードで世の中は変化していることが実感できる。この節目の年の最初に開催された国際家具見本市では今回も驚くような新作が多く発表された。

世界中から1233社が展示し、約12.8万人が訪れた今年のケルン国際家具見本市は1月19日に幕を閉じた。残ったのは各家具メーカーが来訪者を魅了した数多くの先駆け的で斬新なデザインコンセプトだった。

ロルフベンツもこの場で新しい時代に向けた革新的な家具コンセプトを発表した。ここではそのハイライトを紹介する。

ドイツ品質とイタリアデザインの融合

今回先進的なインテリアを求める人が必ず訪れたロルフベンツのブース。その理由は、フェアの開催前に必ず家具業界では話題となる「Stylepark Selected Award imm cologne 2020」を受賞したROLF BENZの新作「LIV」が発表されたからだろう。

ROLF BENZの新作「LIV」は、モジュール型のソファユニット、シェルフとコーヒーテーブルから構成されたラグジュアリー感溢れるリビング家具シリーズである。このケルンフェアでデビューを飾った新たな家具コンセプトは、イタリアのデザイン事務所「Nichettostudio」 と共に開発された。「現代の多様な住空間に適応できるソファシステムをつくること、それが今回の課題でした。あらゆるシーンに最適な組み合わせ自由自在にできるような商品を求めていました」、と代表のLuca Nichetto氏が語る。その言葉通り、「LIV」はクリアなラインとソフトな座り心地に加え今までにない柔軟性を兼ね備えている。座面クッション、背もたれ、アームレストは様々な仕様オプションから任意に組み合わせることが可能。さらにシェルフユニットを組み合わせることでデザインの幅が更に広がる。

ケルンフェアで発表されたもうひとつのアイテムがLIVソファにマッチしたコーヒーテーブル、ROLF BENZ「901」。ソファの繊細なフォルムを取り入れたコーヒーテーブルは正方形または長方形と2つの高さから選択できる。また「902」のコンパクトなサイドテーブルは片手でも簡単に持ち運びができる取っ手つきでさまざまなシーンに活用できる。テーブルトップはどちらとも天然石またはクリアガラスから選べる。

ラグジュアリーダイニング

待望された新しいダイニングセットも2020年にリリースされた。上品な座面シェルが特徴的なROLF BENZ「600」と彫刻のような存在感溢れる新しいダイニングテーブルROLF BENZ「929」は多くの目を惹いた。この新作のデザインを手がけたのがハンブルグのデザインデュオのホフマン&カレイス。

クラシックなシェル型のダイニングチェアに新たな独自のデザインテイストを加え、同時に最高の座り心地を実現したダイニングチェア。ウンブラグレー又はアントラサイト色のシェルには、オプションで5色から選べるコアレザーを張ることも可能だ。またレッグ部にはメタルタイプまたはウッドタイプが用意されており、回転機能を追加することもできる。さらに豊富な張り地コレクションとフレームオプションが用意されており、個々のスタイルに合わせた一品ものを選ぶことができる。

シェルチェアのROLF BENZ「600」に劣らず、ダイニングテーブル「929」も強い存在感を醸し出す。テーブルトップは無垢材または天然石から3つのサイズオプションで用意されている。ウンブラグレー、ブラックまたはマットスチールから選ぶくことができるパンチングデザインのメタルベースはその繊細さからも一際目を惹いていた。

住空間のアート

パブロ・ピカソの一筆書きの作品からインスピレーションされて生まれたのが、ケルンのデザインデュオ「kaschkasch」がロルフベンツのアクセサリーコレクションのためにデザインしたコートラッグ、ロルフベンツ「908」。まるでアート作品のような優雅なフォルムで折り曲げられたスチール製の構造体には、小物、衣類やバッグなど多彩なアイテムをかけることができる。空間にお洒落なアクセントとしてフェアでも注目されたアイテムだ。

この新たな20年代のインテリアデザインが今後どのように進化していくか、今後も乞うご期待ください。

普遍的な美しさ

現在世界でも大変評価されているデザイナー、ルカ・ニケット。ヴェニス出身で現在はストックホルムに住んでおり、モダンなインテリア空間の先駆け人として知られているニケットが、この度ロルフベンツのソファシステム「LIV」の設計を手掛けた。今回ニケット氏のデザインスタジオでインタビューを受けていただいた。

ファビアン・ペーターズ:2020年のIMMケルン国際家具見本市で、ロルフベンツ社のために設計した「LIV」モデルが初リリースされました。この名前には思い入れがあるの聞きましたが、どのような意味の名前ですか?

ルカ・ニケット:確かに思い入れがある名前です。何故なら娘の名前ですから。またスェーデン語ではLIVは「人生」を意味しています。そういう意味でもこの人生と共にするソファとしてこのモデルにぴったりだと思いました。

ファビアン・ペーターズ:昨年はヴェルナー・アイスリンガーがデザインした現代的なモダンソファシステム「Addit」が紹介されました。今回の「LIV」モデルに関してはロルフベンツ社からどのような要望がありましたか?

ルカ・ニケット:「LIV」には使用者の様々な使い勝手に適応できる柔軟性が要求されました。ロルフベンツ社は世界中のあらゆる住空間と使用者のニーズに応じることができるソファシステムを求めました。例えば北欧ではソファの高さは全体的に高めが好まれる一方、イタリアでは平均的に低めで柔らかい座り心地が好まれます。「LIV」はどちらの要求にもこたえる必要がありました。

ファビアン・ペーターズ:このような厳しい要求にとりかかる際、まずどのような点を重視しましたか?

ルカ・ニケット:最初のコンセプトを考える際、ロルフベンツ社の高度な技術とイタリアンデザインの要素の最高の組み合わせが可能であることを知ることが肝心でした。特に感銘を受けたのが、ロルフベンツのディテールまでのクラフトマンシップの技術だけでなく、あらゆる要望に応えることができる家具を構成するバリエーションの豊富さでした。ここまでの柔軟な仕様バリエーションは車ブランドでは見たことがあるものの、家具業界では始めての経験で、おそらく世界中でもみられないでしょう。

ファビアン・ペーターズ:「LIV」はあらゆるサイズに構成できますが、その中でも統一したデザイン性をどのように出すことができたのでしょうか?

ルカ・ニケット:「LIV」のデザインに追究したのは「軽やかさ」です。決して重く質量を感じさせないまるで浮いているようなソファになることを心がけました。美しさを追求するより、感情が伝わることが重要でした。つまり座ったときに感じる会館を見た目でも感じることができるようなデザインです。マイアミにある別荘の200㎡の広いリビングにある大きなソファ・アイランドでも、香港都心にある狭い高級マンションのツーシーターでも同じ感情が伝わることが重要でした。

ファビアン・ペーターズ:世界中のどの場所でも受け入れられ、尚且つあらゆる構成が可能なソファを開発することは、ほとんどミッション・インポッシブルでなかったですか?

ルカ・ニケット:確かにミッション・インポッシブルに近かったかもしれません(笑)。ただしデザイナーとしては世界中の人々に愛されるような作品をつくることを求めるという向上心は常にもっています。この向上心が目標に向けて最善を尽くすモティベーションとなるのです。そして人類に美しさを提供するという信念を貫くことはデザイナーとして最も重要だと考えています。最終的には、どのような柔軟な商品であれ、そこに自分の個性、自分の経験と自分の信念が反映させることが、自分のデザインの核心なのです。

ファビアン・ペーターズ:ロルフベンツ社の技術とクラフトマンシップの専門性は商品開発においてどのような影響がありましたか?

ルカ・ニケット:製造者の技術はデザインするうえで最も肝心です。脚部やメタルフレームなどのデザインディテールなどはロルフベンツが的確に製造できる技術があるからこそ実現できました。ここでこそドイツの品質に対するこだわりとイタリアのデザインスタイルの両方が垣間見える

ファビアン・ペーターズ:カラーとマテリアルはどのような役割を担っていますか?

ルカ・ニケット:コンセプトを考えるときにはカラーとマテリアルをまず確定する

ファビアン・ペーターズ:あなたのデザインは絶妙なカラーニュアンスが魅力ですが、@LIV」のカラーパレットはどのように作りあげましたか?

ルカ・ニケット:私は自然が最も理想的なデザイナーだと考えている。親友でもある写真家のマッシモ・ガルドネは花の素晴らしい写真を撮っている。数年前、ガルドネの自然写真からスカンディナビアンカラー指定機関NCS AB社との協力のもと新たなカラーパレットを開発し、以来この色パレットをデザインコンセプトに取り入れています。「LIV」の場合、ダークレッドやオークル系など温かみのある色合いが主なカラーにしました。

ファビアン・ペーターズ:ソファ以外にもそれに付属する家具をデザインしましたよね?

ルカ・ニケット:はい、ソファに合わせてデザインが完全にマッチする二種類のコーヒーテーブルも設計しました。コーヒーテーブルのフレームはソファフレームのデザインをそのまま取り入れています。小型のサイドテーブルにもメタルフレームで共通なデザイン要素をもたせつつ、遊び心を加えたスタイルを与えています。ソファなど大きな作品をデザインするとき、私はデザインコンセプトに新たなテイストを付加させるために常に小さなディテールを加えるようにしています。

ファビアン・ペーターズ:なるほど、だからこのソファに様々なディテールを追加することができるのですね。

ルカ・ニケット:その通りです!「LIV」には収納シェルフや収納ベースなどを背もたれの後ろまたはアームレストに追加することができます。天然石またはクリアガラスから選べる天板によりシェルフはソファの中の魅力的なアクセントとなり、このマテリアルはコーヒーテーブルにも使用されているため、完璧にマッチしています。本や携帯や子供のおもちゃなど、リビングですぐに収納できるスペースとなるでしょう。このように生活のあらゆる場面に対応できるソファシステムを実現する目的が、「LIV」によって具現化されたのです。

記事:ファビアン・ペーターズ、スタイルパーク
写真1:ジェームス・ストークス、スタイルパーク
写真2、3、5:サンドロ・イェディケ、ホワイトデスク
写真4、モティーフ1:アレクサンダー・フーバー

Boatmovie
港をスタイリングする

アームチェア、ソファ、コーヒーテーブル、ヴィラ、別荘、コンセプトストア、レストラン、ホテル等々、デザインスタジオ「labsdesign」はどのプロジェクトにおいても常に新しいデザインアイデアを提供している。その中でも最近話題を呼んだのが、タイムレスなファーニチャーデザインへのオマージュとして故郷である親愛なるハンブルグの港町を背景に撮影した自作写真集「Boatmovie」だ。

「プロジェクトの仕事に合間、私たちは自身の写真やアートプロジェクトにも時間をとっているのです」、とデザインスタジオの創設者のセバスチャン・ラブス代表が語る。「いつだったか、ROLF BENZのためにデザインした家具を全く新しいコンセプトで演出しようというアイデアが挙がり、そこにハンブルグ港の新鮮な空気の中での撮影のアイデアが生まれました。そこで家具を持ちながら港中で魅力的な場所を探し回りました。家具にはダイニング兼アームチェアのROLF BENZ「641」、張りぐるみベンチのROLF BENZ「945」、ラウンジアームチェア ROLF BENZ「384」と「394」、としてコーヒーテーブルのROLF BENZ「985」、「927」、「923」と「933」を選びました。

「港エリアには詩的な雰囲気さえ感じられる様々な景色があり、私たちのイメージにぴったりの場所でした」、とlabsdesignのグンター・クライネルトが語る。「日常で作業している事務所から離れて、新しいアイデアを得るためにこのような企画はとても有効的です。Boatmovieの写真プロジェクトには、お洒落な家具を演出するうえで全く想像もしないような場所がほしかったのです。そのためにはかなり体力も使いました(笑)。」

このような素晴らしい企画がこの港町から生まれることを今後も期待しています。

ホテル フリッツ・ラウターバード
Urban Soul meets Black Forest

デザインホテルといえば、ベルリン、ミュンヘン、ハンブルグやフランクフルトなどの大都市をイメージするだろう。しかし南ドイツの黒い森地域、「シュワルツヴァルト」にあるフロイデンシュタットという小さな町にも実は魅力的なデザインホテルが存在する。それを実現したのがホテル代表のシュテッフェン・シリンガ―氏で、彼は2016年に老朽化したホテル「ヴァルトホルン・ツォレルンブリック」を買い取り、そこに黒い森の自然の癒しと現代的なライフスタイルを融合したホテルを建てる自身の夢を叶えた。

„Urban Soul meets Black Forest“、すなわち「都会の魂と黒い森の融合」をスローガンに、この現代的なデザイン空間で最高級のサービスが満喫できるデザインホテルが3年あまりで出来上がった。そして019年の7月、「ホテル フリッツ・ラウターバード」がついにオープンした。私たちはシュテッフェン・シリンガ―にこの画期的なアイデアと彼の故郷愛、そしてロルフベンツ社とのコラボレーションの経緯について伺った。

ホテル業界で、あなたは「ワイルドな若者」と呼ばれていますが、それはなぜですか?

私も正直なぜそのように呼ばれるようになったか分かりません。ただ2014年にスタートさせた、ラウターバードの山小屋のプロジェクトでのさまざまなイベント企画がメディアに紹介されたのがきっかけだったかもしれません。今回のプロジェクトと同様、当時はその山小屋を活用方法に様々な新しいアイデアを取り入れ、伝統とトレンドを融合させてお客様を楽しませるプログラムを考えました。そのように呼ばれることは、自分としてもしっくりきます。伝統だけを重んじるようなことは好みません。今までの常識から外れても常に新しいものにチャレンジすることを大切しています。

新しいホテル フリッツ・ライターバードではその手腕が証明されましたね。この「Urban Soul meets Black Forest」というスローガンはどこから生まれたのですか?

このホテルには将来を見据えた全く新しいコンセプトが必要だったことは最初から明確でした。このスローガンは、数多くのホテルを巡ったツアー中に思いつきました。オーストリア、スイス、ニューヨーク、パリやアムステルダムなどの都市にある多くのホテルからインスピレーションを受けながら多くの写真を撮影した際にふと閃いたのです。

”Urban Soul meets Black Forest“とは具体的になにを意味していますか?

このコンセプトは、デザイン意識が高く、アーバンスタイルと自然の両方を愛するお客様に向けたものです。私自身も大都市が好きで、過去にケルンやフランクフルトにも住んでいました。都会のお洒落なライフスタイルと良いデザインが好きで、またこのシュワルツヴァルト地域も愛しています。そうなると都会のスタイルと田舎の快適さを同時に体験することが最も良いですよね?そのような空間をここに滞在しているお客様が求めているのです。

家具にロルフベンツ社を専属パートナーとして採用された経緯について教えてください。

今回全館に高品質でスタイリッシュな家具を設置するために、企業とパートナーを組むことを当初から考えていました。山小屋でロルフベンツ社がイベントを行った際に、責任者と私の新ホテル開発の計画について話したのがきっかけでした。

ロルフベンツ社はこのアイデアに即座に賛同してくれました。そして早速”Urban Soul meets Black Forest”のコンセプトをデザイン的にどのように具現化できるかについて協議しました。その過程の中、たまたまロルフベンツのミラノ・サローネフェアの写真を目にしたのですが、そのデザインが私たちが正に求めている空間だったのです。そのデザインコンセプトを基に適切な家具と色あいと素材の選定が始まりました。2018年の12月に全ての仕様を決めて2019年の5月に全ての家具を設置をして完成させました。その時は最高の気分した!

ROLF BENZはあなたにとってどのようなブランドですか?

わたしたちと同様、ROLF BENZはこのシュワルツヴァルトを誇る最高クオリティを象徴しているブランドです。ナーゴルト市で製造された家具はスタイリッシュでタイムレスなデザインのものばかり、そしてとにかく最高に快適です。私の親戚や知り合いの多くがROLF BENZ家具をリビングに設置しており、中には何十年も愛用されているものがみられます。そしてそのモダンなデザインは今でも新鮮さを失っていません。 

あなたは内装だけでなく、ホテルのロゴやコーポレートデザインも独自にデザインされましたが、以前からこのようにクリエイティブでしたか?

幼いころからよく絵を描いていました。ビジュアルを常に意識するタイプですね。またデザインや建築にも関心がありました。ホテル産業が存在しなければ、デザインか建築設計の事務所を立ち上げていたかもしれません。

あなたはシュワルツヴァルトでリゾートホテルを長年経営してきた家系に生まれていますが、両親とはどのようにコラボしていますか?

両親はホテルのホスピタリティの伝統を守る人の見本となるような存在です。彼らからは今までも、現在も多くのことを学ばせてもらっています。私たちは何事も話し合い、重要な決断は共にくだし、3人のチームワークでホテルを運営しています。これは「フリッツ」の開発計画においても同じでした。いまでは両親は旅行も楽しみたいようで、徐々に責任を私に移行させていますが、現在でも現役で私にとって大切な存在です。それは大変ありがたく、両親に感謝しています。   

「フリッツ」ではお客様が完全にリラックスして新たに充電ができる空間が提供されていますが、ご自身ははどのように充電していますか?

いまのところかなり難しいですね。7月に「フリッツ」を完成しオープンしてから少し落ち着きましたが、いまでもフル稼働している状態です。現在は運営を最優先にしています。休みたいときは、合間に時間を取って良く自然で写真を撮ってきます。これはとても効果的です。また彼女と近いうちにハイキングを計画しています。ハイキング靴を履き、携帯の電源をオフにしてゆっくり過ごすことで自分をリセットできます。

感動を呼ぶ寛ぎ空間

ROLF BENZ と freistil ROLF BENZの家具が採用されている「フリッツ」ホテルでは70室のゲストルーム又はスタジオルームのフォレストビュー、またはパノラマビュータイプが用意されている。このホテルの中心となるのが、文化遺産として登録されている旧館とモダンデザインの新館を結ぶガラス張りのロビー。そこには自然のカラーを取り入れたソファやアームチェアがそれぞれアイランドとして点在している。そしてインテリアはグリーン、コッパーや土色など自然の色合いで統一されている。

客室とスタジオにはロッキング機能付きのアームチェアROLF BENZ「684」、freistilのアームチェア 「173」とソファ「175」、そしてコーヒーテーブルROLF BENZ「8480」と「973」が設置されている。またチェアROLF BENZ「650」は机椅子、ビストロバーのバースツールまたはレストランのダイニングチェアとして使用され、会議室にはスタッキングタイプのチェアが設置されている。

Rolf Benz ADDIT
Genesis of a Favourite Place

With Rolf Benz ADDIT, Tina Bunyaprasit and Werner Aisslinger have developed a progressive, modular sofa system with iconic potential and once again demonstrated their visionary spirit and technical expertise. The innovative sofa landscape opens up completely new perspectives for individual living and shows the Rolf Benz brand from an unusually playful side without losing any of its characteristic clarity. Working closely together with Rolf Benz, the two designers from Berlin have succeeded in formulating a response to our hyper-individualised times in the form of a sofa, if you will.

We spoke to the two designers about the creation process from their assignment to the sofa’s première at the Salone del Mobile 2019.

Phase 1: from the briefing to the design

Ms Bunyaprasit, Mr Aisslinger, how do you as designers approach such a task? Where do you start?

W. Aisslinger: First of all, we received an extremely detailed and really good briefing from Rolf Benz – with precise specifications but enough leeway for our own ideas at the same time. That’s the basis of our work. Ideally, you would then leave the briefing to sink in for a while. The initial idea sketches follow on later.

T. Bunyaprasit: It can help to think about what you would actually like. What’s still lacking perhaps in this sofa world and what you would like to bring into that world. Ultimately, such a commission is always a great opportunity to fulfil your own wishes.

What inspires you?

W. Aisslinger: We travel a great deal. Naturally, this is also reflected in our different commissions and projects. We also live in a very inspirational city. Every day is an inspiration in Berlin. It’s often enough simply to walk through the neighbourhood. As a designer you soak up your environment and what you see or experience flows into your own work.

T. Bunyaprasit: Inspiration can be many things, including looking back on the past. Childhood memories, for example. You can reminisce and question what you previously experienced. When it comes to sofas, well-being and this feeling of security play an important role. That’s where looking backwards can be really useful.

What was the idea behind Rolf Benz ADDIT?

T. Bunyaprasit: It was about developing a sofa system that serves as a universal favourite place, taking all facets of modern everyday life into account. The system sees itself as a type of modular system. You can combine different types of components as you like. This special flexibility gives the whole thing something really personal.

W. Aisslinger: We wanted to create a favourite spot. A collage world. Your own personal cabinet of curiosities. A place where things accumulate that originate from your own life or are part of the modular system. We’ve been thinking about collages for a while. We’re not trying to build monochromatic style collections, but bring together different materials, worlds and surfaces. As designers, we think of ourselves as a kind of DJ who mixes the whole thing up so that it works both for end customers and for the Rolf Benz brand.

Phase 2: from paper to implementation

How does the idea materialise?

T. Bunyaprasit: We draw a lot of sketches. We create them not just in the traditional sense at our desk in the studio, but also spontaneously on a serviette during lunch in a restaurant, for example. At the start everything is pretty scrawly. But then we go relatively quickly to the 3D program to outline pretty realistic proportions. Everything is created digitally on the screen first of all and then implemented analogously using real models.

W. Aisslinger: Since a sofa is usually free-standing in a room, it has to look good from all angles. Including from the back. We can use our software tools to check that carefully. Rolf Benz then builds the samples on that basis. So actually everything moves relatively quickly from the 3D computer phase to real volume models.

How do you proceed when selecting materials? What do you look for in particular?

T. Bunyaprasit: We collect lots of materials and have a large materials warehouse accordingly. This gives us the opportunity of combining different materials as the fancy takes us and experimenting with their look and feel.

W. Aisslinger: Honest, authentic materials are particularly important to us. Nothing artificial. Glass, stone, fabrics, leather – and beautiful textures. The finishes are very important, so whether something is matt or shiny. Or grainy. It’s a mix. And, of course, the know-how and world of Rolf Benz plays a crucial role as well. In specific terms, that means: Which materials are available? What does the latest fabric collection look like?

Phase 3: team work on the prototypes

What happens in the prototype phase?

W. Aisslinger: It’s a really exciting and symbiotic moment. There’s a reconciliation between the Rolf Benz brand and us as the design team. During the prototype phase, we sit down together with the engineers and developers and carefully examine everything. Where does the visual appearance take priority and where does construction count? Are there any possible savings potentials without impacting the quality? Questions like these need to be answered in the team during the prototype phase.

T. Bunyaprasit: For me, the prototype phase is the most exciting phase. You finally have the real sofa in front of you, you can touch it and sit down on it. You can often see lots of potential for optimisation immediately.

Which tests does the prototype have to withstand?

T. Bunyaprasit: First of all you walk around the sofa and assess it from top to bottom. You touch it. Sit on it. You also let yourself fall onto the sofa to see if it feels good. And then you also consider whether it’s the right size.

W. Aisslinger: It has a lot to do with ergonomics and seating comfort, of course. But in the case of ADDIT, it was about showcasing effortlessness and further development. However, Rolf Benz did explicitly ask for something progressive and bringing all this together was a considerable challenge. But after all, that’s precisely what makes our job so appealing.

Phase 4: from prototype to production

What’s special about the production phase?

W. Aisslinger: What’s exciting at Rolf Benz is that everything is entirely made in Germany. We’re talking here about the highest processing quality. Ultimately, it’s a matter of implementing this high quality requirement down to the last detail. Each individual seam is considered carefully: Is this the right and best-possible solution? Where does the seam start and where does it end? Then you look at the construction elements such as metal intersections and shaping. This is where you finely tune the design and it’s especially fun. Particularly with a top-class partner such as Rolf Benz who is extremely well-versed in this regard and places great store on ultimate perfection.

T. Bunyaprasit: Handcrafted perfection is becoming increasingly important. It’s great when one has the opportunity to achieve this high quality craftsmanship consistently right down to the smallest detail, as was the case here with Rolf Benz.

Phase 5: the finished product

What are the design highlights of Rolf Benz ADDIT?

W. Aisslinger: Rolf Benz ADDIT offers a whole range of great highlights. The superbly manufactured cushions with their great seams and their pleasant volume for excellent seating comfort. Or the elegant platform that makes the sofa look like it's floating. Then there’s the underlying frame with its plug-in options for small side tables or shelving, for example. After all, ADDIT isn't just a sofa. It’s a whole landscape. A big, well thought out modular system that is playful, friendly and inviting.

T. Bunyaprasit: Another special feature is the system’s effortlessness. It’s a relatively light piece of furniture with comfortably soft cushions. It doesn’t just look cosy, it is cosy. It’s a landscape that can grow progressively. There’s nothing static that could prevent personal growth. The whole system has a pleasing sense of airiness that enables its owners to think in a different light.

Rolf Benz ADDIT consists of which components?

W. Aisslinger: Rolf Benz ADDIT is made up of the sofa, armchair, small side tables, plug-in trays, free-standing side tables, shelving options and a finely coordinated rug collection. It will be followed by additional elements. The modular system will continue to grow and offer new possibilities. We want to continue building on the ADDIT world together with Rolf Benz. It’s an exciting project.

At the end of this long development process, what was your greatest challenge? What was the most fun?

W. Aisslinger: Interpreting the high Rolf Benz quality in such a light and airy and relaxed way was a challenge that was unbelievably fun at the same time.

SALONE DEL MOBILE MILANO 2019
New frontiers in Milan

New trends, new designs, new living concepts: at the Salone del Mobile Milano trade fair, the irrepressible creative enthusiasm and innovative strength of the international furnishings and furniture sector can be seen in all their glory. The 58th edition of the popular classic trade fair involves all sorts of surprises – once again proving that the story of how we live is nowhere near over, but is constantly being rewritten and updated by ambitious designers.

Lots of news and a true innovation

Of course, Rolf Benz is once again full of surprises and, with its new, outside-of-the-box products, makes it clear that “made in Germany” with world-class design is still a force to be reckoned with. Take the new, super modular Rolf Benz ADDIT sofa landscape from Werner Aisslinger and Tina Bunyaprasit, for instance. It is an example of a new living philosophy that focuses resolutely on the personality of the residents and offers the greatest possible design scope. Rolf Benz ADDIT views itself as your absolutely and universally favourite place within your own four walls. The sofa as a conversation area. As a home office. As a media point. As a play area. As a haven of peace. As a family meeting point. In short: all aspects of life are played out here. The additive components of the domestic "playground" are shelving, brackets and trays, as well as optional coffee tables and rugs that coordinate with Rolf Benz ADDIT.

Notwithstanding its multi-functionality, a dining table with space for the whole family to meet is and remains a cultural achievement that can’t easily be replaced. This doesn’t mean that dining culture can’t evolve, however. Once again, Rolf Benz has thought outside of the box. To the Far East. The result? Voilà: the sculptural-looking Rolf Benz 986 dining table with optional rotating tray. The round table is made entirely of high-quality natural stone and pays homage to Chinese cuisine. Based on a design by This Weber, it will certainly attract plenty of admirers, not only in Asia.

And yet something else is in the limelight. It’s a real innovation. A highlight – or rather two – with which Rolf Benz is literally penetrating new spheres at the Milan Furniture Fair and starting an entirely new chapter: for the first time in the company’s history, a separate bed collection is being presented in the name of Rolf Benz SLEEPING.

 

An award-worthy good night’s sleep

Rolf Benz SONO and Rolf Benz TONDO are the names of the new bed series that from now on will stylishly accompany people seeking peace and quiet through the night. Rolf Benz SONO comes from Beck Design, while Rolf Benz TONDO is a creation from Labsdesign. But wait a moment…TONDO? Wasn’t there something like this? That’s right: the TONDO bed is an evolution of the sofa with the same name, which premièred three years ago in Milan, winning the "best of the best", the highest prize in the "ICONIC AWARDS Interior Innovation" in 2017. These are the best requirements for an award-worthy good night’s sleep.

A bed like a hug

Whether placed near to the wall or free-standing in the room, the down-to-the-floor Rolf Benz TONDO bed makes a good impression in any situation. Its loose back cushions mean you can comfortably lean against it while sitting upright. The curved headboard even enables you to sit next to each other. The innovative "cuddle lounge" is available in three widths and two lengths and also as a box spring bed or as a classic version with mattress and slatted frame. If you can’t get enough of the superbly casual appearance, you can add the wonderfully corresponding occasional furniture to your bedroom: the Rolf Benz 917 seat bench, the Rolf Benz 916 bedside table and the Rolf Benz 907 valet stand complete the ensemble.

Perfect craftsmanship

The first thing that you notice about the Rolf Benz SONO designer bed is the headboard with its elaborate diamond-shaped pleating. Yet despite its appealingly subtle opulence, the bed appears weightless and elegant, not least thanks to its inset delicate legs. Like Rolf Benz TONDO, SONO is also available in three widths and two lengths and also as a box spring bed or with a mattress and slatted frame. In addition to the bed, Beck Design has created the Rolf Benz 918 upholstered bench which also has sophisticated pleating. It’s just a shame that your eyes are closed as you sleep…