Q&A with Jonas Herman of Form & Refine
To gather a deeper and more intimate connection with the artists and artisans we work with, we asked each to answer a series of questions. We will be showcasing each Q&A in correlation with our familial content. Enjoy!
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Without giving away your location, describe where you are right now. What are the things you see, smell, or hear around you?
I am surrounded by materials, specially wood, but also textiles and steel. There is a smell of wood, and I am listening to “Ann Peebles” on Vinyl.
Taste, touch, smell, sound, sight — which of the five senses do you rely on the most? Why?
When it comes to the design process, feeling and sight. But inspiration-vice also comes from sound/music. I always listen to music in the design process. It is for me a good way to keep me focused and to put me into a certain mood or strike inspiration. I find the choice of music quite important.
We want to know more about your creative process, walk us through it. How do you begin your projects? Do you anchor it with an image, a material, color, feeling? How do you come to a stopping point and know your work is complete, if you ever think so?
It often starts based on a certain need, often a need I have experience in my daily life. Then I put down some design parameters, both functional and a feeling, mostly by word. I stay away from my computer and the internet in this part of the process in order to get my own way into the project. Then I start sketching. I have a special love-hate relationship to this part of the process. I get very moody when the good ideas don’t come and get so excited when a good idea comes to me, there is no in between. I never doubt when a good idea arises. It is just a feeling. Often this process is very long, and it is impossible for me to close it down.
It is important for me in the process to think of the production process, so the aesthetic and production goes hand in hand. My workshop is an integrated part of the studio so I often build both mock-ups and prototypes myself.
How would you describe your work? How do other people describe your work?
It is hard for me to answer how people look at my style but I hope I put a clear footprint, a certain style where people can recognize my designs. For me there are 3 important elements in my design that I hope stand out.
Respect for the materials: I have a deep respect for materials; the quality, but also the limitation of a material.
Simplify design: I always aim to simplify the design, so it stands clean, but with one significant detail, example a construction detail.
Solid construction: I have always been curious on how things are built and put together, not only furniture. I aim to develop innovative and solid construction methods.
Think of an object in your home that has the most significance to you. Could you share with us what it is and the memory behind it?
I have inherited the Spanish Chair, by Børge Mogensen, from my grandfather. He used to sit in it every evening with a scotch in his right hand. There is still a mark on the armrest.
For me, this chair is a design that represents long lasting furniture that only gets more beautiful with age. And a good reminder for me to take design very seriously. To create design that will be remembered, repeated, and refined for generations.
We live in a society where so much of our identity is surrounded by the things we consume whether that be the things we buy, the food we eat, or the content we see, along with the fast paced nature of it. How do you approach mindful living and sustainability in the context of your work and in your everyday life?
For me this is one of our modern day paradoxes. The content from digital media is so overwhelming and for me it takes out my creativity because I have to consume so much information. So, I try to limit it and close it down in periods. I keep myself offline, by mainly working by hand at my workshop and not in front of my computer. Music is another example; I try to mainly listen to vinyl and not so much streaming music.
What do you envision for yourself in five years?
Actually, I think I have a very good setup today, and a setup that I for a long time have dreamt about: I have a wife and two kids and work in my own workshop, living off the design I love to develop. Looking at the bigger picture, I hope we can change some of our behaviors by consuming less, and buying fewer, but high-quality pieces. This is one of my attempts as a designer.
Tell us something you are looking forward to in the next few months. Any new exciting projects or plans?
I have built a vacuum table at my workshop that I look forward to working with in my hopes to work more with veneer. Veneer is a material that I think creates new possibilities within forms but at the same time allows makers to use less material while still creating long lasting, high-quality furniture.
Favorite time of day (or night)
Mornings. I love the silent mornings and the first cup of coffee
Ford Capri from 1977, which I look forward to drive during the summer
Ocean or the mountains
A dream you have yet to fulfill
Going to Japan with my family
Photo courtesy of Jonas Herman