Markus Benesch, was born in 1969 in Munich, is an industrial and interior designer who has started his career at a very early age of 16. He lives and works in Munich and Milan. He designs, invents and teaches a lot. His designs have been issued in many design publications e.g. international design yearbook 2002, 2003, and 2004.In various universities like Politecnico di Milano, Nuova Academia di Belle Arti and Ecole Superieur d?Art et de Design de Reims seminars are held on interior design, product and communication design by him. In between two important events ?Cologne Furniture Fair? and ?Milan Furniture Fair? we had the chance to have a break to talk about Markus Benesch?s past, present and future.
Would you please tell us a brief history of your life? Where did your interest in design come from?
I have designed a sub-marine when 9 years old. After that, my professional career has started when I was 16. Two years later I have designed two Benetton stores in Munich. Though the school was always very boring for me I have enjoyed this job. Also that was the same age when I came to Milan. I have never been to Italy before (like every German). It was very different than a German Fair. I have worked for the companies which were producing for IKEA and then I came to Milan to pursue a master?s degree in Domus Academy. Then Erica Calvi, the Milanese curator who did shows for Ron Arad, Ingo Maurer and Michael Young, asked me to do a show for the Milan Furniture Show in 1999. That event was very well received.
Italy is accepted as the center of design. Do you think that there is such design geography in the world?
Right now it is spreading. Netherlands is one of the strongest and also Great Britain and America. Germany pushes a little bit lately.
What are your future plans?
Shows for Fuori Salone, an apartment hotel in Milan, a music library in Munich are the ongoing projects. All the crazy things I did by myself without a company to produce. Now there are companies which handle the production.
What are the influences of your life to your designs?
The biggest influence is my curiosity towards things and life.
What did change in your own approach through design?
Now, I hope no changes. Maybe now I try to do fewer projects.
Do you have a specific method, or planned work chart when you are designing?
Yes, sometimes I follow a routine procedure but very often I drift away and my thoughts run wildly.
How much do you use CAD programs or computer technologies in design process?
In the design process I don?t use the computer at all - only for the execution phases.
What was your first professional design?
You mean produced by a company? It was a bed for a Swiss manufacturer.
How do you define your designs?
My designs are multilayered and often contain many hidden surprises, which only unfold when you use the object.
As a designer does your professional life and your private life get confused?
Well, certainly at times.
How do you feed your designer core?
Nature is the most radical and shocking design in colors and shapes. I hardly look at magazines. No books. I read maybe Harry Potter. When I eat, I get inspiration. Things which simulate me are everyday things- something which happens to everybody. I am not interested in art so much. I can be inspired more by a pizza ?a good one.
Do you have a special place or environment when designing?
Usually it is a café or a bar. The car it is the quietest space for me. I mean not in the city. Not the office. Office is used for telephone calls, checking emails.
Which one do you prefer most: working alone or with a group?
Usually I work alone. Normally there is nobody in the car. However I like people and harmony. I have a very good employee in Munich. Although she had a childcare education and she has nothing to do with design but she is a very good designer. There are also 2 architects, a graphic designer and a gardener.
How do you define a successful design? Is it connected with the selling rates?
According to me, I consider good design with the amount of innovation and its concept. Also what I like is that the decision not to design something at all. I like to see designers with lots of passion in their approaches.
As a designer, do you have assertion of shaping the future or do you seek the shapes of the future?
I have started an exhibition this year which was inspired by a book. With other designers whom are actually archeologists, we found the leftovers of a culture in the future. I created that culture and people. In that case I thought a lot about the future. For me it is helpful to find new technologies, shapes, functions and new understanding. This is more poetic, romantic. Sometimes I think a good present is more important than a good future.
Do you know about Industrial Design in Turkey?
I would love to go there. I heard Europeans get more money than Turkish designers get. No, the only thing I know is Derin, the furniture company.
How should design education be like?
It should be very practical. I have the feeling students get told what to do. I think it is more important to teach how they can develop the ideas into reality; not develop a bad copy of the professor. You can talk a lot, design a lot, argue a lot but in reality things get taught by practicing.
What are your advices for novice designers?
I think to do things is important because it teaches you. If you have a goal you find it. There are also many different things you have to ask yourself. Do not be afraid of making mistakes. Maybe it is also time for us to think of ourselves.
Culture that you appreciate?
Japanese, Italian. I don?t know all but if i knew i would say all. British, French. I maybe like the culture of life and work.
Country that you want to live?
Cuisine that you like most?
Drink that you prefer?
Natural water, tap water in Munich, wine.
Painter that had influence on you most?
Writer that you like most?
Esther Vilar,Paulo Coelho, J.K. Rowling
Kind of book that you prefer?
Harry Potter, The Alchemist, The Da Vinci Code
Movie you like most?
Mon Oncle by Jacques Tati
Style of music you listen to?
Not classical unfortunately because of my music library. I call many people who are experts and I ask them to tell me but maybe I have to listen to them. it is easier. Besides everything, music stimulates me; gives me good emotions.
Your own design you like most?
When I do I always like them. There are only a few I don?t like.
Design you like most?
E-type jaguar. I have a pen I?ve already lost it. It is from Pentel. I-pod is a good thing. It is a product made very well. It could look maybe in many different ways. But there is an entire world of I-pod.
Designer that you respect most?
This interview was made by Hazal Gumus in March 2007. Designophy ©