Q&A: Sebastian Herkner

14th June, 2021

Based in Frankfurt, Germany, Sebastian Herkner founded his namesake design studio there in 2006. He creates furniture, lighting, and décor for major international brands, including for Vibia, for whom he designed the Kontur collection. Known for fusing traditional craftsmanship and new technology, Herkner is the recipient of multiple awards, including several Archiproducts and Stylepark design awards and being named one of the 100 best designers of the year by AD Germany and AD France. Read on to learn what inspires him—and his most important design lesson so far.

When did you figure out that you wanted to be a designer?

I love using my five senses to discover and understand the world around me. It is a very intuitive process. Being creative is my way of connecting and finding new answers.

Where does your greatest inspiration come from when creating?

Observation and experience are the keys to imagination and creativity. It is a very personal process, not really plan-able, but certainly crucial.

Where does your greatest inspiration come from when creating?

Observation and experience are the keys to imagination and creativity. It is a very personal process, not really plan-able, but certainly crucial.

What is the part of the creative process that you enjoy most?

I always get heart palpitations entering a workshop to see the first prototype for a client. It is a very mystical moment, your initial idea becomes alive, it becomes tangible.

If you could choose a superpower what would it be?

Patience. When I have an idea of a product, or I am searching for a material, I always want to see the final result ASAP. It is very difficult to wait, sometimes up to six months, to get a first sample of a rug I designed.

How do you think this ‘new normal’ is affecting the world of design?

We have all been confronted with the lockdown and have stayed at home for a certain time considering what home really means for us—before, during, and after Covid. The quality of our home and what we expect of it has changed, and so has the idea of freedom. These experiences affect design itself. It is not just about imagining home offices, it is also increasingly about reconsidering production, the use of materials, the importance of quality and sustainability. I see a inflexing point in consumption behaviour. There is a vision of re-using, cherishing, and passing on products.

Once we are allowed to travel again what destinations would you recommend a fellow professional or a student of either design or architecture?

This is not about the distance of a destination. I think we have all had the chance to connect in more meaningful ways with our neighbourhoods and the beautiful places we have around the corner. To find inspiration and satisfaction you do not need to travel around the globe at all.

Something that’s never missing from your fridge?

Ice cubes for a drink in the evening.

Your favourite moment of the day is…

Every single second. Every day is different and always a new challenge.

An important design or life lesson that you have learned so far?

For me it is necessary to mention the importance of crafts. Craftsmen are the main personalities in the design world. They are the ones adding beauty and soul to a product. I am so happy to collaborate with those amazing women and men from Colombia to Taiwan on exciting design projects.