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In the garden with: Sebastian Herkner (Designer)

Sebastian Herkner © Lutz Sternstein

His exceptional feel for shape and material has brought the designer, Sebastian Herkner, international fame. Many of his designs unfold their quality first and foremost through techniques of traditional craftsmanship. A conversation about the design of outdoor furniture and current trends for outdoors.


Sebastian Herkner, you have designed outdoor furniture for international manufacturers: Which current developments are you observing in outdoor design?

Principally, the classic typologies are merging more and more. Today, there is no longer a pure indoor and outdoor design. Instead we see manifold overlaps. Outdoor furniture is taking on forms that were traditionally more commonly seen in living-rooms. In the meantime, there are materials such as fast-drying foam for seat cushions, which enable more comfort and a more homely design of furniture for outdoors.


What does that mean for your own design work?

When I am working on a concept for a customer, I base my work on my own demands in the respective product. One now seeks the comfort that one is used to from indoors outdoors too. Today, it has to be possible to implement furniture in different areas and it has to be adaptable to meet different requirements. For example, our outdoor collection Dock for Emu is a modular system. It can be put together at will and is also suitable for transit areas between indoors and out. Outdoor activities are becoming more and more diversified. Why shouldn’t one be able to do one’s office work outdoors as well? Enjoy the open space and yet sit at one’s laptop in a protected area – let oneself be inspired by the pleasant atmosphere.


Work and leisure time are merging more and more – does this also apply for the outdoor section?

I myself do not only work in the office, but indeed in many different places. As a result of Wi-Fi, smartphones and tablet PCs, in the meantime there is a demand to be able to work everywhere. Time is allocated differently today, so that classic office tasks can also be carried out in the open air. Hence, this is becoming an ever-increasingly exciting theme for the outdoor section: How can one work most efficiently outdoors? How can a meeting take place outdoors for instance? Such questions are increasingly influencing the design of outdoor furniture. Generally speaking, it is more about individualisation today.


Even prior to completing his studies in 2007, Sebastian Herkner went into business for himself in 2006. In his studio he now works with a small, multinational team and teaches as a guest instructor at the University of Art and Design in the German city of Offenbach. International brands like ames, Emu, Moroso, Sancal, Gubi, Rosenthal or Nya Nordiska assign him with the task of designing furniture, lamps, tableware, textiles, exhibitions and showrooms.

Dock for Emu © Emu

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