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11 March 2021
Advices to young designers and a preview of Icons, the selection of his most relevant projects
Icons is the new project by Stefanie Hering, designer and founder of the Hering Berlin brand: an opportunity to deepen the craftsmanship and attention to detail of her production, but also to talk about the role of women in design. A role that, according to her, pays for a scarce ability to network and the possibility of accessing relatively recent training.
March is the month dedicated to woman: what does it mean to be a woman in the design industry and what would you recommend to young women entering this world?
My recommendation for young designers is: A strong idea. A bold vision. Absolute consistency. And resilience along the way. What every woman especially needs in the creative field are allies. There are still far too few influential women’s networks among female designers. This is also due to the young history of women in design practice. Take Germany: with few exceptions, women had no access to art academies in Germany in the early 20th century; they could only take private lessons. When Walter Gropius opened the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1919, he stated: “Any person whose talent is deemed sufficient will be accepted as an apprentice, regardless of gender.” Thus the foundation stone was laid for the equal artistic craft training of women, especially in my own field – the production of ceramics and porcelain. It is only in the last few decades that the artistic development of women in Europe has continued to emancipate itself. It takes a strong inner conviction and unassailable resilience to follow this path. This is what I mean by resilience.
Are there many women in your team?
Around 60 per cent. In the manufacturing sector. In the marketing area. In the sales sector. I support design companies that deliberately aim for a 100% quota of women. For myself, however, I have decided to base the composition of my team exclusively on talent, knowledge and experience. I personally find this very authentic and natural. My fantastic team shows me every day that it works.
What is the meaning of the Icons project?
The ICONS are milestones in the collections of Hering Berlin and on my own path as a designer. They are testimony to my constructive engagement with porcelain as a material, which has been going on for years. The icons I have selected here have long been regarded and named by collectors and design institutions as icons in contemporary porcelain culture. That is why I now take this name with honour for these pieces – which, by the way, have also won international design awards.
Can you tell us more about the pieces included in Icons?
I have always worked with porcelain as a material, experimentally exploring the limits of what is possible with porcelain. The icons shed the corset of a form bound to its function. Three examples:
For the kumme I developed in 1992, Form 604, I first developed the basic form – a form so sharp that it cracks – and then looked: What does this shape create? How far can I go in inscribing structures into it before it loses its sharpness?
The monolithic shells of Form 602, on the other hand, reflect my experiments with the balance of a form: How far can the opening project in relation to the base before the object loses its stability, but never its clear line?
A small masterpiece among the Form 601 bowls is an example from the “Cielo” perforated decor collection: Here, the finest holes are punched into the wide rim of the bowl with a hand drill. They not only create a sophisticated play of light and shade, but also test the stability of the material to its absolute limits.
To start a collection of ceramics and get to know them better, what could we start from?
Always start with your favourite pieces. This is an intuitive choice that is usually spot on. Just like with art. Don’t collect according to supposed monetary value, but carefully select exactly those pieces that I want to surround myself with, that I want to actively live with in everyday life, that I like to look at, feel and enjoy again and again. For me personally, these are clearly pieces made of bisque porcelain – my speciality.
Is there a designer from the past that you feel inspired by?
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe once said: “The material is beautiful – we should show it”. This is also my personal postulate when I design – and thus my sympathy for the designer and architect Mies van der Rohe. Because: the perfection of form lies in concentrating on the essence. No matter what material we designers work with, my very firm opinion is that you leave the material room to breathe and to develop. I don’t impose a shape on porcelain, but emphasise its beauty in an organically grown design. To do this, however, you have to know your material very well. You can see this quality in all the designs, which rightly fascinate us the most: They radiate a lightness, naturalness and beauty of form that lives from the material and its high aesthetics.
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