say hi to_ Sebastian Scherer
Sebastian Scherer, a pure genius and true innovator that spent years to invent a technique to accomplish his idea to imitate a soap bubble translated into a glass light fixture. That’s the way he realise's his designs, having an idea of what he wants to create and sticking to that initial idea until he succeeds in materially realising these idea’s and visions. This of which he can be rather proud of, when being handed over a well deserved design award.
With so much passion and dedication behind his work, winning award after award for his incredible designs, we needed to speak with Sebastian about his career path, his beautiful designs and his new label NEO/CRAFT.
| say hi to_ | Please introduce yourself, for instance: If you just met a stranger from a different industry all together, how would you briefly explain to them what you do?
| Sebastian | I would tell them that I’m a Product Designer and that I have my own furniture label.
| say hi to_ | What’s a typical day at work for you?
| Sebastian | That’s not that easy to say… These days, every day is different because we are doing many different things all at once. We are preparing our exhibition in London, replying to product requests, searching for resellers, and also we have to keep evaluating our products in the meantime as well. Sadly, there is not much time left to be spent designing.
| say hi to_ | Yes, I can imagine there would be very little time left for designing and the creative and creating process. Do you try to separate this creative time from daily chores (e.g. in the evenings, on weekends)?
| Sebastian | If I can make it work, yes! On the weekends, I usually have the studio to myself and don’t have to make any phone calls. I usually work on new ideas then.
| say hi to_ | What did your parents do? Did that play a big role in your life? Did it influence you in one way or another?
| Sebastian | Unfortunately, my parents died at a very early age. Still, I think that my father had a big influence on me. He died when I was 14. He was a Professor at RWTH Aachen for technical Acoustics and did research on spatial playback process*. I think I inherited the „Inventor’s Gene“ from him. My mother was a teacher for French and German.
| say hi to_ | Let’s go back in time: What did you want to do when you were thirteen?
| Sebastian | Architect. During my time in community service in Aachen though, I shared an apartment with designers which gave me the idea to study design. I passed the entry test in Aachen - so I stayed in Aachen for my studies. I am still very interested in architecture, so I worked for GRAFT-Architekten in Berlin for a year and was able to gain some insight into the daily work structure of an Architect. I am glad I didn’t become an Architect ;-)
| say hi to_ | Haha, why are you glad you didn’t become an Architect?
| Sebastian | I find the design part itself to be very interesting. The projects often take very long and there are many compromises that have to be made. Cost, builder-owners, technical guidelines… You have much more freedom when you’re designing furniture or a lamp. At least in the „design-segment“.
| say hi to_ | Is that why you went back to product design and started your own label? To have more creative freedom?
| Sebastian | Yes and No. The initial factor was actually the housing crisis in 2008/09. At that time I was working at Graft. Overnight the project was cancelled and I was without a job. Suddenly, I had time. During that time I picked back up on designing furniture and building my first prototypes: the Loop-Series, back then still the „Aluminum-Series“, was constructed during that time.
At that same time I designed the X-Chair, for which I received the Promosedia Award.
| say hi to_ | Winning that price had to be encouraging for your step into self employment as a designer.
In retrospect, how do you feel about your schooling? Do you think that your university degree was crucial to what you are doing today? What did you learn and what was rather unnecessary?
| Sebastian | Yes, definitely! My program at University in Aachen was very liberate. We worked with materials like wood, metal or stone. A lot of the professors were artists. In the main course my professors were Jan Armgardt and Karel Boonzaaijer, both of them furniture designers. Here I mostly designed furniture.
| say hi to_ | That sounds like a great program, creative and hands-on.
| say hi to_ | When did you decide to start your own label? What encouraged you to do it? Were you afraid at first?
| Sebastian | Last year I won the Lexus Design Award. With the help of Lexus I was able to have the Iris Lamp produced serially. Mid-last year I found my now-business partner. I already knew him, he is a friend of my brother’s and he wanted to help gather the rest of the funding for a shared enterprise. That is how NEO/CRAFT developed. He is actually from the Software-Industry. Still, I am the leading CEO of the Enterprise.
| say hi to_ | Would you have considered founding a company without the initial funding? Since you have been self employed before. Many creatives are worried that they won’t be able to support themselves with their work. How long did it take you to make enough money to support yourself after you’ve decided to become self-employed?
I have been distributing my products under my own name before - but I had to work free-lance as a designer. I worked for design studios and did design for exhibitions for them. I could never concentrate 100% on furniture. I did decide to found a label because I didn’t want to sell and distribute the the furniture under my name. Like this I still have the creative freedom to do something not commercial and not distributed by NEO/CRAFT. But at the moment I don’t have any time unfortunately to do that ;)
| say hi to_ | Many creatives have ideas and talent but don’t know how to start a business when it comes to accounting, marketing and distribution. Which was the hardest part of founding Neo/Craft for you?
| Sebastian | The hardest part definitely is to be taken seriously. A lot of designers distribute their products themselves or try to sell them to big labels. That is what I tried to do - unsuccessfully, luckily ;-). Before I met my business partner I tried to sell the „Iris“-Lamp to Labels. I only received rejections. So my advice to young designers is to never give up and rather do it yourself. But a label definitely needs more than one or two good products. Since I am a little bit older I was lucky enough to have already collected some designs over the years. The idea for Neo/Craft though is to also take up designs of other creatives into the program.
| say hi to_ | As a designer you have to create a balance, and sometimes a hierarchy, of form, material and function. How do you go about that concept in your work?
| Sebastian | The starting point for me is different. With Iris for example, I had the idea of imitating a soap bubble. I tried out different coating techniques and finally developed a technique together with a company - since up to that point there was no other way. Here I had the shape as a starting point. In the developing process, form, material and function are equally important. Ideally, all of them taken together complete each other. I think that I made that work, especially with the 'Iris Lamp' and the 'Isom Table'.
| say hi to_ | We love them both. We have already shared the 'Isom Table' on our Instagram a while ago. Beautiful!
| say hi to_ | What satisfies you more as a Designer? The aesthetic of the finished product or the process of research and invention with which you come up with new solutions and ways?
| Sebastian | Yes, the path to the finished product is of course very exciting. With successes and setbacks. During the process you often forget how far you’ve come already. At the 'Lexus Exhibition' in Milan last year, only there did I realized that I had created something special with the 'Iris Lamp'. That moment does make you feel a bit proud.
| say hi to_ | You should be very proud. After the development and the production of the 'Iris Lamp', which I think took you a lot of time over the course of three years, are there new exciting projects that you have in the pipeline?
| Sebastian | Three years, that’s right. At the moment I am still busy with the serial production of the Iris Lamp. In London we will exhibit two new sizes of the 'Diamond Lamp': 25 and 45cm diameter! One new idea that I can tell you about: at the moment I am working on a new lamp - with the dichroitic coating as well.
| say hi to_ | We can’t wait to hear more about it! I read that with Neo/Craft you wanted to work with other designers as well?
| Sebastian | Yes, the label will not consist of my products only.
| say hi to_ | What is the Berlin DNA and how does that reflect in your work?
| Sebastian | I made the decision to move to Berlin for several reasons. First of all, I spent my childhood and teenage years in Aachen and it was about time to discover something new. Berlin was actually my second choice next to Hamburg, but a job offer in Berlin made the decision easier for me.
What I really like about Berlin is the spatial gratitude and the way different architectural influences come to play together. The contrasts of the city that used to be even more visible were and are still a big center of attraction to artists and designers.
Best place to get a drink in Berlin?
Hotel you would stay in if you weren’t from Berlin?
25 Hours Hotel
Best unknown shop in Berlin?
Up and coming talent in Berlin?
Resources that helped you with your career?
Pen and Paper