Gunther Kleinert on fine design and the questioning of consumption

The esthete and product designer is the winner of the German Design Award

gunther Kleinert
Gunther Kleinert product designer & photographer

In cooperation with the studio community "Labsdesign Studio Hamburg", product and interior designerGunther Kleinert designed a modular sofa program called “Volo” for Rolf Benz and therewith the reason why he was appointed the winner of the German Design Award XNUMX. However, this is not the first time that Kleinert has been awarded. He is renowned for his award-winning photographs since he constantly proves his intuitive sense for the special.

We met Gunther Kleinert to talk about design and the questioning of consumption

My personal style is fundamentally simple and at the same time characterized by occasional and intended eruptions - sometimes a little louder, sometimes more subtle, often humorous.

Aesthetic is as subjective as humor. To me, everything that excites my senses and stimulates my mind is aesthetic. The conventional and common conception of "beauty" does not necessarily apply here. In my opinion, luxury is nothing material, but rather located at the highest level of Maslow's pyramid of needs: self-realization.

I am grateful to have a profession which is both, a vocation and a passion. As a product and interior designer, I can think freely and create result-orientated, whereby I still have space to pursue creative processes and the development of my own art projects.

"Despite of the rush in everyday life, I make sure to enjoy the true luxury goods of time and leisure."

The importance of sustainability in product design

Product design and sustainability are ideally the two sides of the same coin. Even at the earliest stage of product creation, product and industrial design need to take a path which is sustainable - For example through the use of materials that conserve resources.

Here's a small and low-complex example to demonstrate what I mean: One of my designs, the side table "Tavo", was created in Studio Labs. In the process of planning, the main focus was put on a handcraft which is slowly declining: woodturning. As wonderfully poetic as the thought of completely turning a table out of a tree trunk may be, its realization is just as nonsensical.

Apart from the fact, that the table would be unable to hold its shape and tear due to the nature of the wood, it would also be a massive waste of material. The table does namely look as if it was made out of one solid piece - but it's not. The tray is turned separately and then placed on the base. Thus, if the shelf is damaged, it can easily be replaced without having to manufacture the entire table. It is an important task of designers to provide impulses, for example for the development and research of new, sustainable materials.

Gunther Kleinert

Design of the modular “Volo” sofa range for Rolf Benz

I live sustainability as I permanently question consumption

I shop more consciously and avoid unnecessarily packaged goods. I am also a big fan of repairing valuable items. That's why I prefer manufacturing companies that do not only pursue sustainable concepts with regard to the materials used, material procurement, production and efficient logistics (short delivery routes), but also design their products in such a way that wearing parts are interchangeable.

Good industrial design is characterized by simplicity and repairability

Two years ago, I bought a plotter, which was over 30 years old - I still create my artistic projects with it. The production of this kind of plotter was stopped in the early 90s as they were replaced by inkjet printers. My plotter, which I got for very little money, is still "going like clockwork" after all these years and is structured in a fascinatingly simple manner. It took about a few weeks until I could control the "old" plotter with a PC from today but eventually, it worked.

I have never owned a car as I can easily get around Hamburg by public transport or by bike. If I occasionally need a car, I just borrow one or use car sharing. I also like to travel by train, not least because I can use the luxury gift “time” for good thoughts and very importantly: for notes and sketches. I always travel with one notebook for applied design and one for art - Sure thing.

What's special about my product design is, is that I would rather leave it to others to assess or judge it

I take my inspiration from all areas of applied and liberal arts, as well as everyday life. I really enjoy the exchange with colleagues, who have different backgrounds or career paths, as its so productive. I always intend to open my senses up for anything, even for things that would initially not raise my interest. I also get inspired when I design different things at the same time and get involved with them in various ways. This automatically creates synergies.

My tips for a minimalist decor:

Of course, it is generally difficult to give specific tips because everyone has a different understanding of minimalist furnishings whereby space conditions always vary.

"It is in self-limitation that a master first shows himself" (J.W. Goethe) When less is more, that little needs more attention

  1. Details become more apparent: When it's all about reduced or minimalist furnishings, the (still) present is becoming more and more essential.
  2. High quality and raw materials: That is why we always use high-quality or let's say “real” basic materials and no replicas. Real wood parquet or high-quality textiles, for example, come into their own much more visually and haptically in a reduced environment.
  3. White is not the same: With wall paints you can work with slight gradations.
  4. The visual references are always important: What do I see when I walk through rooms? What happens to daylight, how does it go? Can things be staged and highlighted by natural light or shadow? I absolutely refer to John Pawson here.

To me, trends arise from social developments such as the ways how we will live and work in the future. Trend as a concept is ambivalent and often used in an inflationary manner. You should always ask yourself to what extent you want to follow a trend. In the abundance of "trendy", I often find the "untrendable" or less noticed much more exciting.

Gunther Kleinert

Gunther Kleinert, The Fabrics Series

2020 holds some surprises by Gunther Kleinert

My next step is n the pursue of new product and interior design projects in Studio Labs. I will also continue to work on my artistic projects and series "I can see music" and "The sound of ...", in which I deal with the visualization of the audible (music, noise, sound) and explore ways, how to transfer them into the third dimension.

Gunther Kleinert

Gunther Kleinert_Bohemian Rhapsody


Always informed about the latest Lifestyle Trends, architecture, design & interior, as well as current technologies around sustainability.

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