(adam štěch) Alfredo Haberli has prepared two projects for Designblok: a limited edition of a glass object, Glass Music for Křehký, which combines the traditional artistry of Czech glass makers with the mysticism of the Brothers Grimm fairytales, and an installation of his own projects created for Alias and Kvadrat. Haberli has been cooperating with both these companies for a long time and likes them very much. You can go and see the former of the two projects in the Superstudio Dox and the latter in Konsepti. We asked Alfredo Haberli some questions about his work:
In your work you focus mainly on industrial design. Therefore, it was a bit surprising that you created a limited edition of functionless glass objects for the Křehký exhibit. What do you think of the contemporary obsession with gallery design and limited editions?
Alfredo Haberli: \\\"I’ve been making industrial design for 15 years. It’s always been my dream. It’s a very pleasant feeling to know that so many people drink out of my glasses and that 50,000 pieces of my chair designs are sold every year. But of course, I understand the new tendencies in art and don’t reject them. I like limited editions and unique design, but only when it is well-founded. You can make a limited edition, but only when the product cannot be mass-produced. In this case, I’m in favor of limited editions.\\\"
You are of an Argentinean origin. Do you follow the new developments in design and architecture in your home country? Does it inspire you?
AH: \\\"Yes, of course. I grew up in Argentina and lived there until I was 14. I like the way the South Americans think and view the world. Their attitude towards life is much more spontaneous. In Europe, people think only about making money and ensuring a comfortable living. In Argentina, people live more naturally. They enjoy life to the fullest and are happy when they get up in the morning. I get inspired by all of this. I don’t go to Argentina very often because I have to go on too many work-related trips. However, this year my family and I spent a holiday in Argentina and loved it. There was plenty of sunshine. In fact, this is one of the reasons why I keep coming back to Argentina. From time to time, I need the southern sun.\\\"
Can you describe your creative style or your approach to it? Isn’t it a kind of synthesis between South American passion and recklessness, and the strict functional solutions of Max Bill and others?
AH: \\\"Yes, you can put it this way. Like I’ve said, I’m influenced by the South American mentality; it definitely plays some role in my work. My uncle was an architect. I must admit that he influenced me a lot as well; during the 1970s and 80s, he created a lot of outstanding examples of residential architecture. When I was in school, everybody was talking only about functionality. Later on, I learned a lot from the Italian school of design - especially the fact that the term “design” does not necessarily mean an effort to reach functionality only, but that it also means an effort to find beauty, which is much more important. This is also my personal approach. When I’m creating a chair, for example, I want to make it beautiful. However, you must always think about the product’s functionality too. I’m trying to combine functionality with the emotions that reflect beauty. For this reason, I like the Scandinavian approach to design and, of course, enjoy cooperating with Scandinavian companies like Kvadrat or Iittala.\\\"
Your creative work ranges from furniture, accessories, glass, and technical products to the installations of exhibitions. What is your favorite field of design and why?
AH: \\\"I most enjoy designing for children. I think it’s very important. I’ve designed several children’s fabrics for Kvadrat and a whole collection of accessories for Iittala.\\\"
I think that your cooperation with the designer brands of Camper and Bally is very interesting. What is it like to design shoes? Is there any difference between cooperating with a fashion label and a furnishing brand?
AH: \\\"These are two completely different kinds of work. The developments in fashion design are much more aggressive; every six months there is a new collection. That was part of my project for Camper too. I didn’t have much time for preparation since everything was going so fast. But I think that the final result was very good. In my opinion, the designers of furnishings who do some work for fashion brands have much more freedom than the fashion designers. Their products are something special for the company because they make fewer products.
Some of your products show particularly interesting details. I personally think that they reflect new experience and bring innovation. Specifically, I have in mind the Take a line for a walk armchair designed for Moroso and the wooden coat hanger designed for Matter, to name just some of them.
AH: \\\"Yes, sure, I’m looking for new solutions. If you think about the coat-hanger, isn’t it a great thing if a person can take it out of the wardrobe easily without crumpling the clothes? Its purpose is to ease our everyday life. In the case of the Take a line for a walk armchair, it is similar. I’ve combined the armchair with a chrome footrest. It’s much better to use, than putting one’s feet on a sofa. The sofa can get dirty very easily; you can put even your dirty shoes on a metal footrest.:
Some time ago, you designed an installation for Bruno Munari’s exhibition in Zurich. Is your relationship with him special in any way? I have the impression that your creative techniques might have something in common.
AH: \\\"When I was studying in Zurich, I became the curator of the Museum of Design. I prepared the whole Munari’s exhibition on my own: I created the installation, selected the artworks, and wrote the text to go in the catalogue. At that time, I realized that an exhibition in general is a reflection of culture and society. And this is exactly what I wanted to express through my work. Yes, I think that Munari and I share the same approach to creative work. We both love children and designing for them. Munari has done countless projects for children. I think that playfulness is what makes our creative techniques similar.\\\"
You live in Zurich, the birthplace of Dada. What’s your relationship with Dadaism?
AH: \\\"Well, of course I’m familiar with Dada’s history and am fascinated by it. I like their sense of humour and its ability to transfer high art into an ordinary working day. It reminds me of the Argentinean mentality. The Argentineans show us how to enjoy every single minute of our lives and how to take things easy. And here, I’d like to mention Bruno Munari once more. He was fond of Dadaism and applied its principles to everyday life. It was fun to be with him. I can remember one situation when we were sitting in a restaurant and ordering some wine. Bruno said that he wanted yellow wine. The bewildered waiter looked at him and said that they had only red or white wine. Bruno replied that nothing like white wine existed because its color is yellow and not white. This was his sense of humor; he loved making jokes. Yes, in this respect, I am inspired by Dadaism.\\\"
Alfredo Häberli a Glass Music, Křehký, foto: Dušan Tománek