For Talking - Keilhauer
For talking

A brief conversation with our table designers

We carefully select product designers whose design philosophies and values complement our commitment to excellence. Our partnerships with talented designers result in beautiful, functional products that support conversations and connections at work.

Tom Deacon and Andrew Jones
Mark Kapka
EOOS
 
  An interview with

Tom Deacon and Andrew Jones

In 1990, Tom Deacon established an independent design studio and began designing products for leading manufacturers in Canada and the United States. His work has been published and exhibited widely and has received numerous awards.

Andrew Jones designs furniture, lighting products, and residential and commercial interiors. His clients include manufacturers, architects, and government agencies in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

 

Tom and Andrew, you have each designed one multi-purpose/cafe table for Keilhauer. We notice from these photos, that you have joined forces and are designing together. Please tell us what brought that about.

We have been friends and admired each other’s work for years and had talked a few times about a collaboration but somehow it never quite materialized. Then, recently, we collaborated on a couple of architectural projects and were excited by the results which, we both agreed, were better and quite different than if we had worked on them alone. We each learned a lot through the process and we wanted to apply that same dynamic to our furniture design work.

Do you feel you bring different strengths to the collaboration?

We share a similar sensibility for design, but different skills which combine to bring a broader perspective in seeing the potentials and weaknesses of a design. The design process is a long one and requires stamina. With two people, when someone experiences a loss in momentum, which is inevitable, the other is ready to fill in and manage a challenge. It’s also a lot more fun, sharing in creating something together. After the initial “giving birth” phase, there is so much careful work to ensure that something gets resolved perfectly; it’s easy to get lost in the detail. Having two people helps maintain objectivity and fresh eyes.

Do you have a process for tackling a project together or is it still evolving?

Each project is unique and evolves in its own way. It’s almost as if a design has a life of its own and asks for different things at different times. We are very different people, with different life experiences and how we describe something or make a sketch or a model is unique and helps the other to see a different facet of a project. Furniture design requires an attentiveness to subtlety and we are able to see something new through each other’s work – suddenly a design becomes alive with new possibilities.

In a perfect world, where would this design duo go and what would the result be?

A perfect world for us is waking up and having the opportunity to work hard on something we enjoy. So far, we have both been very lucky to work with great companies like Keilhauer. Each project is an opportunity to hone the process of combining our skills and inspirations – and that’s where we’re headed.

Talk to us about your thoughts on designing the perfect table.

Tables fulfill a variety of needs in any environment, but the most noble type of table is one that is like a piazza, bringing people together in conversation, connecting everyone into a whole. Whether for a meal or a meeting, the size, shape, and material should welcome everyone and be a uniting force for a group. Tables also provide useful surfaces which help make work easier and more intuitive. A good table should be exactly where you need.

  An interview with

Mark Kapka

Mark studied Industrial Design in California at San Jose State University. He has taught furniture design at California College of the Arts. He lives and works in San Francisco. His work also reflects an extensive understanding of product development, production, craft and brand identity.

 

You have designed one of Keilhauer’s most successful tables, Cal. If you had to go back and analyze what has made it successful, what would you say?

Interestingly, the tables were intended to be low-key companions to the chairs in the collection. Really to serve a supporting role in the space, not so much a leading role. More about restraint than statement. I suppose its success is a testament to the appeal and utility of an understated solution (that can work in a wide variety of spaces).

You and Keilhauer decided to introduce the first lounge height table. What was the inspiration?

The Cal tables were introduced in 2004 along with the Cal side chair and the Cal lounge. Around that time, there was a movement toward making the workplace more domestic and less formal. The dot com boom, which occurred a couple years earlier, had begun to make an impact on loosening the formality that had previously been pretty ubiquitous in the corporate workplace. It was a much needed and refreshing change.

As the Cal chairs were evolving, we decided it would be nice to complement the side chair with an understated 29-inch height conferencing table. Suddenly the lounge chair seemed lonely without a table of its own. It then occurred to me, if the lounge was paired with a table that shared the similarly scaled relationship, it could create a meeting space with a more casual sitting posture and an overall less formal sensibility; a bit more like home. That approach is certainly widespread today.

What is the most difficult thing about designing tables in this century?

Despite seeming simple, (just four legs and a top!), tables can often be deceptively difficult. If the application demands a more technical approach – for instance, a long horizontal span or to allow height adjustment or provide access to power – it can prove challenging to integrate those elements in a discreet, cohesive fashion. The goal is to preserve a certain elemental clarity while still accommodating various functions.

  An interview with

EOOS

According to EOOS, design is a poetical discipline between archaic and high-tech. The trio, Gernot Bohmann, Harald Gründl and Martin Bergmann, examine rituals, myths and intuitive images as a starting point within the scope of what they refer to as Poetical Analysis®. They operate in the fields of furniture, product and shop design with a client list that includes Keilhauer, Giorgio Armani, Adidas, Alessi and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

According to Keilhauer you are a unique combination of a team of designers who take their work very seriously but leave personal ego out of it. How does that serious design vision, collaborative attitude and playful nature combine to produce wonderful results?

We work with Keilhauer on a deep level with high concentration. The communication is very direct and we discuss ideas in the very early stage with a lot of trust. We love nothing more than this process from discussion to product. Humor and laughs are a key element on both sides and we love that flow.

Your idea of collaboration came out in the product “Wheels”– tell us the story behind Wheels.

It all started with the story of a specific building at the MIT campus. It was called Building 20 and was built during World War II. The building was rushed, thus not very well built and became shabby very quickly. And yet everyone wanted to work there because it was the coolest and seen as the best building to do research at MIT. Amazing things emerged from that space! So, why? The building was so functional, raw and utilitarian – nothing was refined about it. There was no permission to ask; there was no need of a facility manager. The researchers changed the structure of the building according to their needs, so the building was under permanent transformation. This kind of raw structure, that moves with you and which you can adapt to your own needs is the idea behind Wheels. You can choose and configure the rituals for the meeting and change and adapt them every moment. You can move the whole meeting from here to there within seconds and the furniture follows your ideas. Wheels communicates this fresh, informal and dynamic workshop atmosphere that existed in the Building 20.

What poetic ritual were you embracing when you designed the Juxta series?

We thought about the complex system of rituals when you meet, discuss and work. We interpreted this as a series of juxtapositions: formal/informal, long term/short term, mobile/stationary, personal/group and standing/sitting. Instead of creating many different objects, we wanted to create one simple system. With a small kit of parts, we were able to configure 74 different products for all the different scenarios and rituals. Every product in Juxta speaks one design language and thus complements each other.

How do tables play into the design process when you are working with the people in your studio?

We strongly believe that tables have a direct influence on the work and outcome. We design and think differently when we sit relaxed in a lounge chair with a tablet than when we sit together at a conference table, or when we stand at a high table and draw or discuss. It is important for us to choose the right setting in the right moment. We use everything – sometimes a large table at standing height, sometimes a low table, and sometimes no table at all. You approach a problem differently and you create different ideas in different scenarios.

Gernot, tell us how the lead for each project is decided.

Normally it is clear right from the beginning. This decision follows no concept or program; it is pure intuition. We sense who would be the best and there is little need for discussion.

Martin, a table can be a simple thing, but I understand there are many complexities that come into play when designing tables. How so?

A table is about construction and technology, the right materials, production, transportation, price, weight, assembly, disassembly, different sizes and heights. It should be a true industrial product. At the same time, it should be a sculpture and a poetic object with a strong idea. The combination of all that is what makes it so difficult.

Syz, Wheels, Juxta, Net, Talk, Boxcar, Branden, Cahoots – that is a long list of tables designed for Keilhauer. Where does the inspiration come from?

That’s definitely a long list, and they all come from very different points of view. Syz comes from the thought of different table heights creating different postures and different behaviors. The Wheels power table is all about mobility and the support of a fresh and dynamic collaboration. Talk tables have a special shape which reflects the universal angle of verbal communication. They mirror the instinctive urge to angle slightly when in a relaxed conversation. The asymmetrical Juxta slab table creates a touch down zone to invite someone to check- in and -out easily. Cahoots is about minimum material and maximum visual signature. Net, Boxcar and Branden tables are centerpieces of each of the collections.