By Marie Kulik, Manager of Exhibitor Business Development
This week Marie caught up with Barbara Schmidt, designer for the KAHLA line of porcelain dinnerware.
Marie: What is the inspiration behind the design and functionality of your products?
BS: I want to translate the material porcelain with its long history of use and design into the present. Human habits are as important as a source of inspiration for me as the qualities of the material itself. The versatile lifestyles and different eating habits of today can only be responded with porcelain that can be used in many different ways. I don’t construct my designs digitally but develop them in my workshop, with hands on clay and plaster.
Marie: Are there specific designers that have influenced you?
BS: I am very interested in all kinds of ceramic materials and their history, along with their makers. Through my education at Burg Giebichenstein University College of Art and Design Halle, Germany and Aalto University Helsinki, Bauhaus tradition was an influence, but also Scandinavian design and Japanese ceramics. I met a lot of interesting artists and designers, and I think our works are connected in one way or the other. But there is no one who stands out as an idol.
Marie: What makes a design “great”?
BS: There has to be an element of surprise that comes from experiment, pushing the boundaries of material, use, shape … there are so many ways nowadays of creating something unique.
Marie: What does your company offer the Industry?
BS: I am an in-house designer at KAHLA/Thüringen Porzellan GmbH. I appreciate that I am able to accompany the whole process of putting my designs into production from inside the company. I gathered a lot of technical knowledge about porcelain production which makes it easier to develop design ideas that fit the company. And KAHLA gives me the chance to realize almost all my ideas.
Marie: What was your first impression of Discover Design? The Show in general?
BS: I was not at the show, but understood from our distributor, that the Design quarter was well received and very successful.
Marie: How do you see design impacting our industry five years down the road? 10? Longer?
BS: In a saturated market, it is the well designed and thought through objects that help, that make us happy, that last and lead into the future.
Marie: How much does the use or function of a product play into the design of it? Do your products follow a similar design throughout the line or does the influence differ from piece to piece?
BS: There are many aspects of function, far beyond the technical use. There are such things as emotional function, social function, and communication function. Function and design cannot be separated. Beautiful shapes only please the senses if they are comfortable in use. The functionality of an object is not complete if it is easy to handle, yet not beautiful.
Every one of my product designs has its own idea and essence that shows in a different language of shapes. Perhaps, from a distance, a relation between them can be found.
Marie: How did the Discover Design help to expand your brand?
BS: KAHLA was the first time exposed at the House Wares Show and gave the retail the possibility to get to know one of Europe’s leading porcelain manufacturers
Marie: What advice can you offer to designers working in the home goods field?
BS: Tools for eating and drinking are among the oldest man-made objects. Working at improving them or rather developing further is not just about optimizing technical function but about culture, enjoyment, pleasing the senses, communication.