Sebastian Herkner

We meet Sebastian Herkner in Utrecht where he is helping out with a photo shoot of three of his most recent designs for Dutch furniture brand Linteloo: the Mark Chair, Ample Chair and Terrace Table. Herkner is a young German designer, aged 35, who has already produced a remarkably large portfolio of products for brands like Schramm, ClassiCon, Dedon, Fontana Arte, La Chance, Moroso, Pulpo, Rosenthal and Very Wood. Sebastian Herkner explains the importance of travel, craftsmanship and the need for tactile materials and colours.


‘Working hard is a not really a punishment, but more like a passion thing to me. I travel a lot and take in inspiration from those journeys. This week for instance I am travelling from Utrecht back to Offenbach and then on to Vienna, Prague and Berlin. I tend to travel three or four months per year to keep in touch with clients, presenting lectures and visiting fairs. But what I really like and value most is what I call intercultural inspiration, when you are able to stay longer and have more intensive experiences: drinking the local beer, listening to local music and learning from craftsmen, like I did when I stayed in Zimbabwe and Colombia for workshops. At the end of the day, design is always about communication and culture. Product development starts with communicating with clients and talking to the managers and craftspeople in the factory. I am not a typical designer living in a white space. I think I grew into a different kind of designer because I have always been interested in traveling, taking home many different objects and mementoes. I guess it made me feel less tied to German design history, in which functionality and modernism have been very dominant for a long time.’

‘Because I travel a lot, I am less tied to German design history’


‘At Offenbach University I enjoyed a lot of freedom to develop myself as well as my own style. The origins of this school were very traditional and artisanal, in part because historically, Offenbach was a centre for the leather industry and trade. The industry declined after the seventies and in the same period the art school grew into a respectable design university with teachers like Herman Zapf and Verner Panton coming from (Hochschule für Gestaltung) Ulm after that had closed down. I finished my exams in 2007, when the city was still a bit dull and dreary, but Offenbach is becoming a more interesting and very internationally oriented city with lots of immigrants and current refugees. Syrian and Turkish people find a new home here and due to its proximity to Frankfurt, the monetary and economic centre of Germany, there is a greater exchange of ideas. As a result, the house prices may be rising but it also means that a lot of interesting restaurants are opening up. You could compare Offenbach to Brooklyn and its relation to Manhattan. So I still like this place and am happy to have my studio here.’ ‘As a designer, I am happy to make use of the fact that I have been given the opportunity create products for many different clients. Materials, colours and craft remain the starting point for all projects. Tactility and craft are fundamentally important to me.’

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08 sebastian herkner pulpo font round coffee table
Font round coffee table for Pulpo
Very Wood Unam Sebastian Herkner 5
Unam for Very Wood


‘I recently took my team to the glass manufactory where the Bell Table is made. This was the design which first introduced my philosophy and attitude to the press and public at the Salone Satellite in 2009. As a designer I thought – and still think – that we should commit ourselves to creating real products that can last a lifetime, and which only grow richer with use and acquire a kind of positive patina over time. This is why I made the Bell Table out of glass and brass, working together closely with the craftsmen at the factory. It takes four men half an hour to make just the base and then it needs to be cut, washed, sanded and so on. It’s a lot of work. But it does mean that the user has something that adds value and personality to his home – not something you’d discard easily. In recent new designs you can see my love for Japan. The typical flattened contours of the legs and backrest of the Mark Chair for Linteloo mirror the flat angular form language of Japanese woodwork, for example. The modular layout of the Terrace Table was partly inspired by the Japanese landscape seen from the plane. The material of the hard ceramic plates for the tabletops came from another source; Bullerjan is a small stove factory for which I designed a sleek modern re-interpretation of the traditional German tile stove in 2014. So in one product I may find a crossover to another producer, methods or material. And on their part smaller factories like Bullerjan profit from this input, which helps them to find new purposes for their products and opens up new perspectives.’



This interview was published in WOTH issue No3 still available in our shop.

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Herkner supporting WOTH
Maison et Objet Unveils New Designer of the Year Sebastian Herkner 11
Pastille for Edition van Treeck
Thonet 118 blue by Sebastian Herkner 02
A new classic the Thonet 118 blue