before the actual creative process begins, british product and furniture designer jasper morrison always asks himself the essential, crucial questions about the purpose of a product. looking at all the objects and items from the interior design and lifestyle area that the calm and thoughtful designer has created so far, one can always find them reduced to the essential. a conversation about the desire for real things, for less wastefulness, and a designer’s responsibility to create a positive atmosphere in the world.
dear jasper morrison, does a good product generally remain good, meaning it works and functions throughout a long period of time?
i am more and more convinced that as a matter of principle, products should have a long lifespan. besides the functional aspect, another element should also receive greater attention: that a product should function well, even after being used repeatedly, a thousand times. i am very interested in people’s relationship with those objects that we use on an everyday basis and that take on important roles in our everyday lives. a chair simply has to function every day, just as a watch has to function every day, and it should be very clear how those products can be used. good design has the power to maintain a function for the long term. this also is the reason why people buy beautiful, classic things – in a way, they conserve the basic function.
what is your take on the thought that we are surrounded by so many things that lack quality today, and that they have an effect on our behaviour? do you think people would be happier and more balanced with less, but good things?
this is an interesting question. for all intents and purposes, we designers are responsible for the way the man-made world looks and what it exudes. on the one hand, we have the option to create things that are made for razzmatazz and quick sensationalism; on the other hand, we have the opportunity to take responsibility and to say it is our job to generate a positive atmosphere for our life. yes, i am convinced that design should assume that task.
does the economic and financial crisis maybe lead us back to the elementary, basic values?
yes, definitely so. i have more and more respect for the (admittedly, not very popular) idea of simply not wasting things. similar to the generations of our grandparents and great-grandparents, who just did not practice wastefulness and who followed a certain ethical principle. back then, nothing was wasted, period. things were cultivated, repaired, and one tried to maintain them. i think that is a very correct attitude, even if this might sound a little moralistic right now. in principle, every waste is a small crime, and that includes short-sighted design and the disproportionate use of materials and resources.
when people take a closer look at their things, deal with them and incorporate their personal notes – this is a form of creativity that could have a positive effect on our entire society …
yes, we could definitely develop a significantly more human, healthier society this way. in this context, there is an extremely interesting book with the title home-made: contemporary russian folk artefacts. it depicts incredible everyday objects from russia, which the people there construed by themselves, because many things were simply not available or not affordable. behind each one of these items, from the self-made lamp to a shovel, there is a small, human story. fantastic.
does good design launch an evolutionary process, or is it rather a continuous removing and adding of elements?
when i create things, it mostly resembles an evolutionary process. i always look at the history of an item and try to take it to a new level, whether it is a chair or a fork. then there also are the rare moments where pure innovation – something completely new – is created, but that is very unusual. almost everything more or less exists already. deep down, the motivation of every designer is to create something totally new.
next to the technology and virtual spaces in our everyday lives, a desire for real, authentic things and values is emerging. you can see young teenagers wearing t-shirts of led zeppelin and woodstock …
of course, the young people have not experienced these times, but they know very much about their original values and goals. they are very adept in tying today’s principles together with historic ideals. at heart, it all is about the quest for authenticity, but that applies for us adults just the same.
what is the special, the fascinating part about creating a watch for you?
the collaboration with rado is a good example for what good design can emerge from: the continuously maintained, experimental freedom with the classic watch shape, which allows a designer like me to go a step further, without limitations. basically, rado’s identity and style derive from the material that the watches are made from: ceramics. a wonderful material that gives my creations a matte, subtle look.
how does the creative design process evolve for you?
a chair is and will remain a chair; a watch is and will remain a watch. i always try to give the product a very natural character, without distractions through flashy colours or shapes. basically, for me it is always about remembering what the product essentially is and should represent. really quite “simple”, isn’t it …