The “German Design Award – Newcomer Finalist” for 2016 went to Hanne Willmann. This not only bears out how good her work is , but is now doubt motivation for the 29-year-old, who completed her degree in product design at Berlin’s University of the Arts in 2014. One of her designs is already in production with Danish design label Menu. The “Willmann Vase” combines glass with concrete, whereby the designer has subverted the apparent logic of using the heavier material as a base and the lighter for the upper section: “I wanted to play around with contrasts, with the fragility of glass and the heaviness of concrete. The concrete sits on the glass so that you only see the ends of the flower stems. It’s simple, but unconventional. I love it when products surprise you at first glance.”
Hanne Willmann always shows great sensitivity when handling materials. As a child she would craft incessantly, playing with cutoffs of linoleum, carpet and parquet from her grandfather and uncle’s workshop. This was undoubtedly an ideal basis for experimentation and developing a feeling for materials.
Alongside the vase, the “Plue” chair is an example of how Hanne Willmann’s ideas often stem from her interest in manufacturing techniques and production processes. The metal frame of the “Wire Chair” she developed in cooperation with Silvia Terhedebrügge is padded with a PU FlexFoam, which means the surface of the seat is comfortable even without the subsequent addition of cushions. The aesthetics of “Plue” stand out from other wire chairs solely thanks to this simplicity. And thanks to the “Elastoskin” surface that seals the foam, the seat is weather-resistant and dirt-repellent into the bargain.
The designer’s favorite material, however, is actually wood, since even if a product is manufactured in series, she says, every item has its own character thanks to the individuality of the material. For the “Mimikry” sideboards, Willmann developed an embossing process by which the surface of the maple is decorated. Normally you would expect that wood would be damaged by an embossing process and that the surface would split, but this is prevented through the use of a special roller for the embossing. The “Lenz” lounge chair (2014) is made of molded ash with a delicate frame of powder-coated steel, and was developed in cooperation with Bartmann Berlin and Silvia Terhedebrügge. The whole design bears her typical style – minimalist and material-focused. This is undoubtedly a result of her way of working: “I don’t work at the computer that much,” says Hanne Willman, “but I do do a lot with large mood-boards, sketches and prototypes. Mood-boards in particular are important for my designs, because they enable me to visualize and reflect on all the steps of the design process.” She also gets inspiration from colleagues Stefan Diez and Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, whose designs also generally stem from the issue of production and take a strongly technological approach.
Hanne Willmann, who after graduation gained work experience at Werner Aisslinger’s studio and also lectures in design projects at the University of Anhalt’s Dessau-based design faculty, believes perfection lies in the design of products that are long-lived: “Here I’m not only referring to a high level of quality and good production, but particularly to an emotional added value. What use is outstanding quality if it doesn’t speak to us? It’s only with this emotion that a product gains a high non-material value and becomes longer lasting.”
In the Domotex design too, the feeling for the product is at least as crucial as the link between material and experiment. Hanne Willman aims to direct attention towards the wonderful artisanal qualities of the flooring and create new authenticity. (ua)