German born industrial designer Christian Haas began working in Munich before opening his Paris studio in 2007, a move that would extend his personal and brand portfolio into multiple disciplines, from porcelain, glassware and lighting to furniture and interior design.
Since early 2015, Studio Christian Haas is based in Porto, Portugal.
Haas works with renowned companies such as Rosenthal, Villeroy & Boch, and Theresienthal, for whom he creates designs that are a playful harmony between practicality and style.
Do you have a greatest career moment? If so, what was it?
My first design products were hand-assembled sketch books, all done by myself and all with individual serial numbers. When I heard from a concept store that carried these sketch books, that the singer Björk bought three of them, I couldn’t have been happier!
Seems to be a small thing, but when you are a young designer and an icon like Björk buys your designs, it makes you feel proud and reassured that you’re on the right track.
What was your most challenging career moment?
After studying Industrial Design, I became Creative Director of the German crystal company, Nachtmann. During this time, the company was planning a complete brand relaunch to be prepared for the 21st century. In only a couple of weeks, I needed to get into the fabrication of crystal and create countless different designs, both being a clear sign of the new brand positioning and being commercially successful.
What is the basis of your design strategy?
I design for a few different fields: companies, galleries, and even interior concepts, each requiring different approaches. When working with companies, for example, I see myself as part of a team, trying to reach for the best possible result, not only from a commercial, but also from a visionary design point of view.
What do you consider to be your design expertise?
After designing many porcelain series, I would say that I’m kind of an expert in the field, and that I have a good sense of what will be successful or not, even in difficult times for the tableware industry.
Where do you seek inspiration to kickstart your creative process?
Art books, exhibitions and flea markets. But also, my travels to Japan; this country is a true source of inspiration for me. I like visiting workshops, as well getting inspired by things and tools I find laying around.
How do you overcome creative blocks?
Since usually our studio works on different projects all at the same time, I just swap the subject! (A glass of wine or a walk on the Atlantic coast also helps.)
How do you know when to stick it out and when to let go of an idea?
Difficult to say: Normally we create many different ideas and approaches for the same project. First, we try to develop the most promising or surprising one. Sometimes it happens that we swap ideas in the middle of the design process. I can be quite radical with abandoning ideas if I’m not 100% convinced.
Is it difficult to strike a balance between your creativity and the objective for commercial success?
Actually no, the companies I work for have a good sense of design, and for me as a designer, there is no need to feel ashamed of designs and concepts we launch together. Otherwise, I wouldn’t work for them. Of course, in some projects I feel more of my aesthetical handwriting than in others, but that is normal.
How would you define your personal design aesthetic?
Minimal, poetic, timeless.
Is there one design or collection that changed everything for you? What was it? And what do you think of it today?
Yes, it was a project that I started completely on my own in 2011, the ROPES lighting series. It is still showcased in the nicest galleries worldwide, and it brought me wide recognition besides the tableware sector.
Is there one person who you admire or consider to be your greatest mentor or design inspiration?
There are many great designers, architects, and artists that I admire for different reasons: Isamu Noguchi, Hans Arp, Mario Bellini, and Le Corbusier, to name a few.
What advice would you give to young designers who are just starting out in a commercial marketplace?
Be in good relations with your client. It might sound banal, but a relaxed atmosphere is very important to build up a trustful partnership. And besides designing, try to get some knowledge in marketing.
What do you use on your table?
A mix of all the different table wares I have designed in the past 10 years. Also, some individual dishes I always buy when I travel to Japan.