A Design Entrepreneur
"If you can't think in business terms, understand what opportunities are beyond and above, it's difficult to give yourself a context."
Benjamin, what does it mean to you being a design entrepreneur than being a designer. This is how you call yourself after establishing Layer Design Agency.
For me everything is about the reason why you design. I think if you are just a designer, you can't think in an entrepreneurial way. If you can't think in business terms, understand what opportunities are beyond and above, if you are just creating something with better functional form, it's difficult to give yourself a context. Context is everything. It is about understanding why you are doing things, why people are going to buy it, what business it is going to create and how it's going to make a more successful business. It’s very difficult to be a designer without these kinds of things. All these things mean that you are an entrepreneur. The reason that we are talking entrepreneurial, as well as design terms, is because design is a tool to make things better, to create more efficient and effective businesses, to prove the quality of life of people. All of this needs an entrepreneurial spirit just as a designer.
Pair chair designed by Layer for fritz Hansen / design and production process
Bitossi phone charge unit
As this years Istanbul Design Biennial acclaims that design always presents itself as serving the human but its real ambition can be redesigning the human. What is your opinion about that?
I don't think we can redesign human but you can certainly redesign big shifts, macro shifts in the way that we operate. This is something that every designer is influenced. It is ultimately difficult to control everything in order to really change those things on such a ground scale. I think attitudes always need redesigning, approach always needs rethinking and points of view always needs developing.
As designers, it is our job to consider about them in an incremental and smaller way with an approach to the singular objects or way you create systems and systems thinking would always deliver a larger behaviour change than it will stand alone as products. For me it's about thinking elastically. Thinking on more than just a single piece of hardware and the approach, the understanding and trying to grab that all up is enough that people will consume. It won't alienate people. It is really important. You have to bring people with you if you will make such big changes. That is related to awareness and education as well.
Cradle designed for Moroso, using the flyknit technology
What can you say about young generation designers’ behaviours? Their courage or lack of knowledge about establishing a studio as soon as they graduate? Or vice versa….
I think it's beneficial to learn as much you can for as long as you can before you start thinking about setting up your own agency. For me that involves working for a few years and studying for a length of time. My approach is through that learning and being around tools that will define what you might want to do as an individual. All those approaches of you to set up a business is about solving a problem and it's less about design. It’s more about capitalising an opportunity. For me that's a different approach. I don't think you need to surely be a designer to do that. Perhaps you end up being more successful if you are not. My point of view is that young designers should be approaching things and they shouldn't be paying attention to lots of magazines telling them lots of silly things about furnitures. An incredible thing to do straight away is putting context into their own routes. I think designers have responsibility to solve problems and create conversations around things that need talking about.
AMASS, 46.000 pieces designed to define new spaces.
I would like to talk about 3D printed wheelchair GO, Layer released this year. It seems to me that this a product really reflects the way you and Layer work.
This project touches on lots of different ways that we work in the studio. It involves a lot of research like talking to people, understanding the market, thinking about what opportunities there are through all of our insights and learnings. It also represents quite a long development in terms of really trying to simplify and engineer something that's effective but also visually efficient and really communicates this high performance.
GO Chair, produced with 3D printers for Materialise.
I think it is a great combination of being stylish and functional. Lastly we deal with a lot of emerging and cutting edge material technology. For us it is also about that, a digital aspect in terms of how people computationally use a product like this and utilizes a material technology. We think 3D printing answers a lot of the problems we discovered in the research face like making something to reduce injury, more comfortable, made to measure, just for you, really helping you on a daily basis.