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

Product and interior designer, Gunther Kleinert is the winner of the German Design Award 2020 together with the studio community Labsdesign Studio Hamburg for the design of the modular sofa program “Volo” for Rolf Benz. His photographs are also award-winning and he always has a sense & an eye for the special.

Gunther Kleinert speaks to us about good design and questioning consumption

My personal style is fundamentally reduced, but with occasional and wanted outbursts, sometimes a little louder, sometimes more subtle, often humorous.

For me, aesthetics is a similarly subjective category as humor. I find everything aesthetic that excites my senses and stimulates my mind to think. The commonly used concept of "beautiful" does not necessarily have room here. For me, luxury is also not material, but rather at the highest level of Maslow's pyramid of needs, self-actualization.

So I am grateful to have a profession that is both a calling and a passion, in which I can think freely and create in an advertising-oriented manner, where there is also space for developing and pursuing my own art projects.

"I make sure to enjoy the real luxury goods time and leisure with all the hectic everyday life"

The importance of sustainability in product design

Ideally, product design and sustainability are two sides of the same coin. Product / industrial design must take a path at an early stage of product creation that is sustainable, for example through the use of materials that conserve and use resources.

Here, a small and low-complex example may serve to demonstrate what I mean: my “Tavo” side table was created in the Labs studio. The main focus in the planning was on a slowly dying craft, turning. As wonderfully poetic as the thought of turning a table completely out of a tree trunk, such a realization would be nonsensical on the other side.

Apart from the fact that the table would then not be able to maintain its shape and tear due to the nature of the wood, it would also be a great waste of material. The table looks as if it were solid in one piece, but it is not. The shelf is turned separately and placed on the base. If the shelf is damaged, it can be replaced without having to manufacture the entire table. It is also the task of designers to provide impulses, for example for the development and research of new, sustainable materials.


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

Sustainability is lived by the permanent questioning of my consumption

I shop more consciously and avoid unnecessarily packaged goods. I am a big friend of repairing valuable items. That is why I prefer manufacturing companies that 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

2 years ago I bought a plotter over 30 years old, with which I create artistic projects. These plotters have not been built since the early 90s. At that time, they were replaced by inkjet printers. My purchase for very little money is still going like clockwork after more than 30 years and is fascinatingly simple. It probably took a few weeks before I could control the "old" plotter with a PC from today, but in the end it worked.

I have never owned a car and can easily get around Hamburg by public transport or by bike. If I do need a car, I borrow one or use car sharing offers. 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. Of course, one notebook for applied design and one for art always travel with you.

The special thing about my product design is that I prefer to leave it to others to evaluate or judge it

I get my inspiration from all areas of applied and liberal arts, but also from everyday life. I find the exchange with colleagues, some of whom have a different background and career, to be very fruitful. I always want to keep my senses open on many sides, even for what would initially not arouse my interest. I also get inspiration 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:

It is of course difficult to give specific tips in general, because everyone may have a different understanding of minimalist furnishings and space conditions are always different.

"Only the master shows himself in the limitation". JWGoethe. So when less is more, this little needs more attention

  1. Details become more apparent: when it comes to reduced or minimalist furnishings, what is (still) available becomes more and more essential.
  2. High quality and real materials: That's 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 as white: wall colors can be worked 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.

For me, trends emerge, on the one hand from social developments such as how we will live and work in the future. The trend as a term is ambivalent and often used in an inflationary manner. You should always ask yourself how far you want to swim on trend waves. In the abundance of "trendy" I often find the "untrendable" or less noticed as much more exciting.


Gunther Kleinert, The Fabrics Series

2020 holds some surprises by Gunther Kleinert

My next step is new product and interior design projects in Studio Labs. In addition, I will 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 look for ways, including in to transfer the third dimension.


Gunther Kleinert_Bohemian Rhapsody


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

[ninja_form id = 3]

Related topics
Vanessa Yuan & Joris Vanbriel on designer furniture for children In dialogue with the founders of EcoBirdy about recycling of discarded plastic toys and colorful designers ...
Jan Boelen
Principle of the HfG Karlsruhe Jan Boelen on elements of sustainable design Does something like sustainable design exist and why upcycling is a pure illusion ...
Green living
Green Living Interior Design: Here's how to make your modern, chic and green home improvements Beauty and a sense of responsibility are not opposites. Green Living stands for stylish furnishings and ...