Award-winning, German furniture designer Werner Aisslinger has made quite a name for himself with a spectrum of experimental designs. From his unique “soft cell” gel furniture collection in 2000 to his ground-breaking Juli Chair from Cappellini that was the first chair to use polyurethane integral foam (which became the first German design since 1964 to gain permanent exhibit status at New York’s Museum of Modern Art), he is not afraid to allow his creativity to push the limits of innovation. Most recently, at the 2011 Salone Internazionale del Mobile exposition, Aisslinger launched his latest design, a cordless office energy storage unit, called Yill (shown below right), which expands the limits of an office into the next generation of mobile environments.
1. Please tell us a little about Yill and its design inspiration.
Yill was designed to be a friendly companion in daily life—more of a likeable object than just pure high tech. As Yill is a totally new typology of a product, it was more complicated to relate to something while designing it. We tried to keep the design archetypal, simple, and self explaining, as well as akin to the friendliest robot ever, R2D2 from "Star Wars."
2. How is technology changing to better integrate into the office?
Technology needs to be separated and independent from office interiors and furniture, as both furniture and technology rapidly change, albeit at different speeds within their evolution. Offices in the future will be more meeting areas with less workstations, so mobility and flexibility of all components in furniture, architecture, and technology
3. What do you enjoy most about design?
Design is an exciting profession, somewhere between industrial evolution and pure culture. I personally enjoy floating between research, material experiments, and design installations. I enjoy being involved in product design, architecture, modular systems, and the development of products with visionary technologies.
4. When did you realize you wanted to be a designer?
I always was interested in arts, movies, and architecture. I finally decided to study industrial design after working in theater as a set design assistant and also was influenced by a girlfirend at the time who a fashion designer.
5. How do you define “good” design?
Good design has a long half-life period: it is basic and archetypal, emotional, and story-telling.
6. Who is your favorite designer (besides yourself)?
Historically, I like Joe Colombo most and, for sure, Eames.
7. What is the greatest lesson you have learned in your career?
You can never rest. The world is never static; it’s in a continuous evolution, which you as a designer should follow. You have to be continuously curious and open-minded about socitey and your environment.
8. What advice do you have for young designers?
Be open-minded. Scan your environment. Be a seismograph of society and think of tomorrow.