24 Sunday 24th July 2011

Table241, made from laminated wood cut-offs

What is the inspiration behind diefabrik? What personally inspires you?

diefabrik’s intention is to raise an awareness within consumers about sustainability, recycling and a different way of producing designer products. We see ourselves as a factory that doesn't narrow itself down to one product but responds to mindless mass-production by offering a variety of clever and genuine designs. All our products are designed and manufactured in a ‘small scale mass-production’ by diefabrik and regional craftsmen. We don't try to supply the whole world with our products, but see ourselves as a niche supplier for people all over the world.

We draw our inspiration first of all from this production framework, as all products need to be produced within these guidelines. Our production method, as do the materials, has great influence on the aesthetics of our products. Also we like to respond to notions within a society, such as the perception that potholes are potholes and nothing more, or the unconscious waste of energy in the internet (Flickrl rug).

Flickrl Rug, reuses 2000 photos from Flickr on a particular day to highlight 'digital waste'

Your Schlagloch Lampe utilises potholes, something that we normally see as being a nuisance. Did you intentionally decide to design something positive out of a negative?

Yes, it's one of several reasons why we decided to do the pothole project. First of all it’s an interesting shape created by society subconsciously. Basically it’s a mass-produced shape with the luxury that every shape is different but equally interesting. Also it depicts the wear and tear of our society in a wonderful way. We are used to being extremely mobile and having an infrastructure and streets where every bump and hole has a warning sign. But it’s this fast mobility where we have to pay the price for our expectations. Cobblestone streets aren't as prone to developing potholes as much as the modern bitumen roads. But Cobblestones aren't very pleasant to drive on with 50 or 60 kph. You see, potholes are a result of our society, not only because we drive cars, but because we have a certain expectation which, in the long run, doesn't make sense. Also, it's interesting to look at something as obvious and unspectacular like a pothole in an abstract and secluded way.

Schlagloch Lampes, cast from potholes in the road

Do you think you design with convenience in mind, for instance with your Pömpellamp?

The Pömpellamp is just a prototype where we took several totally contrasting items to join them together thus creating another product. We liked the whole production method so much that we kept on going with the design process until we were at a point where it became too easy to build. This is a product where we believe that everybody should build it on his/her own. It was a lot of fun!

Pömpellamp, portable lamp in a bucket

A lot of your products use second hand materials; Table31 for example reuses abandoned metal grids for the table top. Is recycling an important aspect for you when designing? Do you think it’s something that should appear more in furniture design considering the current climate?

Reusing materials for products won't solve the world’s waste problem, but at best it’s a statement, and may even open up new possibilities. By recycling, reusing or upcycling, diefabrik intends to change the way we produce and consume. In my opinion it isn't condemnable to buy ‘new’ products, as long as you know why, where and what you are buying and how it was produced but then it can become complicated and expensive.

That's the reason why we use recycled materials, it’s pure efficiency and the decorative appeal it may have is only one aspect. It's practical to use the old grids and build tables out of them, the quality and the aesthetics of laminated wood off-cuts are absolutely stunning (Table241). I think it's fascinating to use old loudspeakers and bring them back to the 21st century as MP3 amplifiers and, at the same time, offer a product which can compete with big companies (Tombox). We try to recycle where it makes sense, or where it tells a good story and can open your eyes.

Table31, where the tabletop is made from metal grids found on the road side

What are your opinions on mass-produced furniture shops such as IKEA?

Where there is a demand there is a market. I like some designs of IKEA, especially the kitchen appliances. However, I think it's absolutely crazy to think that it's necessary to have an IKEA every 50 Km. A McDonalds of furniture.

Do you like to experiment with different materials? Are there any materials you would love to work with but are yet to acquire?

I like the thought of experimenting with ceramics or something in this direction. I'm always impressed with the design work of designers in the field of ceramics, and I feel that diefabrik may need a tea set in it's product portfolio someday...

Tombox upcycles a loudspeaker which can be used as a fully functioning MP3 amplifier

What are your future plans for diefabrik? Are you working on any new pieces at the moment?

We have a few ideas that we will pursue in the future, but our current products still have potential that we haven't exploited enough yet. But diefabrik doesn't understand itself solely as a product design platform. We are the complete package of design to distribution - at least that's what we'd like to be. There are a lot of possibilities in how the distribution of products and the way niche products are marketed can be improved.
This is something else that is partly responsible for the mass-production mentality in production. Wholesale, cheaper by the dozen, outsourcing, selling on consignment. We feel that the direct contact to our costumers is very important.

If you fancy getting yourself a piece of furniture by diefabrik, visit their website to see more of their work here.

Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at panic@dontpaniconline.com and we will respond asap.