Experimental, edgy, sustainable, futuristic are some of the words that come to mind when seeing German product designer Werner Aisslinger’s work. From chairs to houses, his planet-friendly designs are worth a look.
When you think of a ‘home of the future’ what comes to mind? Do you imagine sleek, spaceship-like contours, shiny metal everywhere? Or does your mind bring up a minimalist space, white and wood, de-cluttered with perhaps a hint of industrial touch here and there?
Award-winning German product designer Werner Aisslinger has another idea. In May 2013, for an exhibition called the ‘Home of the Future’ he transformed the façade of the Haus Am Waldsee Museum in Berlin with textile – a patchwork fabric that is at once colourful, creative and a refreshing change from all those metallic imaginings of the future.
The fabric design of the ‘Home of the Future’ exhibition was meant to showcase the designer’s keen interest in sustainability and upcycling – reusing everyday objects in a more creatively luxurious way.
Born in Berlin in 1964, Aisslinger studied design at the University of Arts (Hochschule der Künste) in Berlin followed by a stint at Jasper Morrison and Ron Arad in London. In 1993, he founded Studio Aisslinger to focus on “product design, design concepts and brand architecture.”
Aisslinger’s interest in homes and buildings reflects in his popular Loftcube (2003) and Fincube (2008). The Loftcube is a “mobile loft” ready-to-use in three days (including the interior). It is a “modern day tree-house, originally intended to fill the spaces of the flat roof tops of the post war high rises in East Berlin.”
Its popularity, however, has meant that the design has since been adapted for use on many different surfaces including riverbeds.
The Fincube modular home, on the other hand, is made entirely out of local wood and takes up very little space making it ideal for comfortable living in forests, mountain-sides or other nature resorts. The temporary nature of the home (it can be re-assembled easily) makes it easy to remove it, allowing the occupied area to be soon “re-naturalised and put back to normal”.
Apart from sustainable homes, Aisslinger also has a prolific portfolio of furniture and interior design to his credit. His first chair design, the ‘Juli Chair’ (1996) was designed for Cappellini and made out of polyurethane integral foam, a material used by the automobile industry. The Juli Table followed in 1998, along with the ‘X Table’ which is a folding table.
The ‘Soft Cell TM’ (1999) sounds like a biological experiment, but it is actually the world’s first gel chair, ground-breaking because of the use of Technogel in furniture space.
The following year, Aisslinger released another gel-design, the award-winning ‘Soft Chaise’ for Zannota, which went on to become “the second most published design object worldwide” that year.
In 2001, the Cappellini Gel-chair became equally popular; a non-gel version of this chair was created in 2002, making it more conventional and affordable.
Aisslinger’s experiments with form, colour and pattern continue with the fluid Gap chair (2007), the high-tech Knitted Chair (2009), the A-chair (2009) and the voluptuous first-of-its-kind Hemp chair (2012). This year we’ve seen (so far) three new contemporary designs: The DS 144 Lounge Chair, DS 143 Armchair and the ‘Bikini Wood Chairs’, a series of minimalist wood chairs in ‘colour morphing’ gelato shades.
While Aisslinger’s range of chairs is impressive, his designs for shelving systems, storage units, watches, eyewear, jewellery and office products is also note-worthy.
In 2012, he created a ‘Swing-Sofa’ for Vitra (with a basket version as well) that is meant for use in an office.
Studio Aisslinger’s commitment to experimenting with new materials is increasingly visible with products such as the Coral Seating (2009), made out of hexagon funnels which are a hybrid of felt and polycarbon hexagons.
A beautiful Coral lamp was also introduced the same year. The ‘Hoodie’ Lamp (2013) will be appreciated by people who like to corral their clutter – the lamp comes with a built-in bowl where you can drop your watch, rings or keys, making them easy to find the next morning. You could, of course, also use the bowl as a permanent display space for other, less utilitarian, objects.
With studios currently in Berlin and Singapore, Werner Aisslinger is all set to grow and consolidate his position as a leading, experimental designer with that elusive futuristic touch.