Like a sketch, but quite stable: Markus Jehs and Jürgen Laub with their new „Sketch“ wardrobe for Schönbuch. Photo © Martina Metzner, Stylepark
The collection consist of three pieces: wardrobe, wall installed wardrobe and news rack. Photo © Sarah Böttger, Stylepark
Facts: height 1.80 meter and in steel tube, powder-coated in black or in glossy chrome (green is just a model).
Rendering © Jehs + Laub
How minimal can a wardrobe be? Rendering © Jehs + Laub
Not a radiator, but the news rack of “Sketch“. Photo © Schönbuch
"Sketch" is the seventh product by Jehs + Laub for Schönbuch. Photo © Schönbuch
Lines in space
Martina Metzner: Mister Jehs, Mister Laub, pardon honesty, but I wouldn’t have thought at first glance that this was a coat stand by Jehs + Laub.
Jürgen Laub: Some designers are incredibly creative. And then you get products that have a kind of idea overload. You know another idea on top of that and another. But that’s not our thing. We want to get to the essence of a product. Quite often the idea suddenly pops up and then we work a very long time on whether it’s really an idea – or perhaps just a variation. There’s nothing worse than seeing another coat stand a year later – that is better.
Having done clothes hangers, the “Stripes”, “Match” coat stands and the “Fields” sideboard, this is the seventh product for Schönbuch. How did this renewed collaboration come about?
Markus Jehs: Schönbuch commissioned us to design a coat stand unit. And then it started: What does the most minimal structure for this kind of coat stand look like?
Jürgen Laub: It is our first free-standing coat stand – a sketch made product. A few lines in space. It’s made of welded steel. It can be separated in the middle to make two identical components that you can insert into each other. In the wall-mounted wardrobe we took care to ensure there are as few visible mounting plates as possible.
You are not as present in the media as some other designers, who design very much less. Also because your products are less “flamboyant”. Why is that?
Jehs: We always make the things for ourselves. And if we feel we wouldn’t want the object in our own living room then that’s the end of the project – and it tends to be the things that are bright and fashionable. They look good on the covers of magazines, but after few months they start getting on your nerves. If you want a bright splash of color then you can achieve it with sofa cushions or a vase on the sideboard.
Laub: There are plenty of immobile objects such as cabinets, kitchens, sofas and bathtubs, which are supposed to be low key because they will remain in our homes for a very long time. And then there there are mobile products such as chairs or lounge chairs, which can be fashionable – what matters is the right combination.
Then you basically consider yourselves responsible for providing the setting or ambient sound?
Jehs: Not always. Let’s take “Shrimp” for Cor. There we have a piece of wood formed into a shell, by cutting into it and bending it upwards. As with these Fritt chews.
That’s how you make your designs...
Jehs: We enjoy folding.
Laub: Then afterwards we eat our designs (laughs).
Do you work on a model?
Jehs: With 15 years’ of experience of building models we don’t need that any more. It’s enough to plan the models on a computer. We know what it’s like to sit in, and what it feels like. And when we print it out in 3D, it’s typically 95 percent the way we want it.
And what form does your collaboration take?
Laub: We sit at an enormous round table and every five to ten minutes one of us rolls over on his chair to the other one. The important thing is to keep a tight hold of the table edge (laughs).
After 25 years you know what the other person is thinking ...
Jehs: When he starts on a sketch it might happen that I say, let’s drop it.
Laub: We also argue about the design, and that’s fine. But in the end we always agree. That’s because we don’t make personified, emotional creations. Because we give the product its own identity and constantly discuss what the product needs to gain that identity.
You also enjoy designing entire interiors, the Mercedes Showrooms for example.
Laub: We are very euphoric about it until we realize how much work is involved and then we swear we’ll never do it again – only to forget. And then we do it again. Every couple of years or so.
Let’s get back to the coat stand. How long did you work on the product?
Laub: The design came about quickly and then the questions arose: Can it be more? What about the wall? Is there somewhere to put newspapers? Do we need a mirror? At what height must jackets hang? It took a few days, weeks even, until we’d answered the questions.
And at what height must jackets hang?
Laub: We always get it wrong. We think it’s 1.60 meters – and then someone comes along with a longer coat. Here at imm cologne we are seeing the first model. We trust in the development team at Schönbuch. But it’s not like that with all firms.
Do you mind, if as my final question I ask what “Sketch” will cost?
Laub: Around 300 euros. Almost too little, that surprised us. Often it’s the case that people only start to appreciate the materials and the design when an item is expensive. I am quite open on that. You have to make a price you can imagine in a store. Franco Cassina once said to us you should always estimate a product’s store price. If it’s higher then you’ve lost, if it’s lower then it’s right. Then you take it.