In an ever more complex world, designers nowadays are active in many different roles in various fields – not only as creators of products, but also as discoverers, agents, and communicators. Digitization especially has led to changes in design processes and outcomes. But, it’s a huge difference if you create an object by hand versus digitally, says designer Kai Linke, leading him to pose the question: Is it really satisfying to use a smartphone to turn a vase from a digital object to a clay object with a fingertip? So, after a few years of working on the computer, he went back to creating objects by hand using wood, stoneware, glass, and paper as preferred materials. An interview by editor and curator Adam Štěch.
Adam Štěch: How long have you been doing design? What’s your main focus in this?
Kai Linke: I founded my studio in Frankfurt am Main in 2009. The studios main focus is to develop products for daily use of manufacturers, as well as exhibition and interior designs.
AŠ: What do you think about the role of a designer in today’s world?
KL: That is a very complex question and hard to answer here. There are more & different fields designers are active in. The professional image and business requirements change rapidly as a result of technical and social developments.
Personally, my role as a designer in this complex world is to be active: to use the chance to discover this world with all it’s materials, colors, surfaces, spaces and connections. I feel it is necessary to ask questions, to be curious, to create visions, to create objects, products and spaces that range between seriousness and fun, symbolism and functionality, and familiarity and conscious irritation
AŠ: How has this role changed over the years?
KL: Our world is becoming more complex. Thus, there is a massive change in the requirements for the designer. The designer is becoming more an agent and communicator between different work units. Designers have to more than ever unite different activities in their professional life. In comparison to the past, there are only a few companies that develop and really produce their own products in-house anymore. Designers are increasingly developing into all-round service providers and consultants. They must be very flexible. Additionally, thanks to the development of new media, designers have the opportunity to present and sell their products at no cost to the public.
»Personally, my role as a designer in this complex world is to be active: to use the chance to discover this world with all it’s materials, colors, surfaces, spaces and connections. I feel it is necessary to ask questions, to be curious, to create visions, to create objects, products and spaces that range between seriousness and fun, symbolism and functionality, and familiarity and conscious irritation.«
Over the last few years computers influence more and more the design processes in my studio. During and after the years of doing my master handcrafted design processes influenced the process of my work. The influences of computer and the digital world help a lot during the design process but also change the outcome a lot. It is a huge difference if you create an object by hand or digitally. This experience was also trigger for my exhibition at Solitude »BY HANDS«.
AŠ: You are working on very different projects: ranging from products, to interior to conceptual experiments. How does this define your work?
KL: Working on products also means working on space or the room itself for me. Even a product in front of a white background generates a room and generates room by its corners, projections and deflections. A product in a room changes the room. At the same time, however, a room can change a product. Products can be characterized by their origin and the spaces in which they arise. Most products are detached from spaces and should be used in a multifunctional manner.