Building stories that captivate, German designer Philipp Weber works between textile, ceramics and film documentation. Weber’s interdisciplinary practice takes inspiration from different cultures, craft, literature and music. His graduation project, Strange Symphony, reinvented the age-old glass blowpipe and secured him the 2013 DMY New Talent Award. We spoke to Weber about two musically inspired projects that lead to Strange Symphony, which will be exhibited at Design Academy Eindhoven’s Graduation Show during Dutch Design Week, 19 to 27 October.
For Moments in Music, you collaborated with Amsterdam’s Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest. Did the shape of musical instruments or orchestra performances inspire you more?
Philipp Weber: Listening to violinist Liviu Prunaru, the royal orchestra’s concertmaster, brought up a lot of emotions. I was also curious to know what inspired contemporary composers – twittering birds, honking horns and the hissing of water. I questioned: what makes these moments possible, and began researching how Prunaru’s Stradivari violin was made. With sheep intestines, horse hair, bone glue, and wood as ingredients, Moments in Music was developed as an encyclopaedia of my emotional responses.
Showing a multifaceted result, did material play an important role in this project?
I was fascinated by the relationship between humans and material — the violinist and wood or the glassblower and glass. My role was to communicate this passion through different media. Moments in Music became physical by using the materials found in these interactions.
Was there a performative human material interaction in Diner’s Ensemble?
Together with Italian designer Daniel Costa, I explored the sound quality of copper and porcelain but the overbearing question was how an actual dinner could transform into an interactive soundscape of communal eating. Strings linked tableware to individual piano cords; guests began to communicate with different intonations.
How did you arrive at the allegorical association of music and craft in Strange Symphony?
I noticed a similar relationship when visiting Liège-based glassblower Christophe Genard. He kept his blowpipe moving so that molten glass would stay malleable. His rhythm was musical, which inspired me to develop a new blowpipe that resembled a trumpet. Engineered by Eindhoven-based Mart van Hest, this new three-valve blowpipe was designed to create many multi-chambre vases. I let Genard determine the results. For me, the most important was the investigation, communicating the physical performance of glassblowing in a composed film.
A new blowpipe was designed for a spontaneous production process. Do you envision any other applications for multi-chambre vases?
The process isn’t finished yet, but as third part is interest in developing a series of lamps with Strange Symphony. I’d also like to organize a concert and provide a stage for this craft.
City of Residence: Munich, Germany
Education: Design Academy Eindhoven
Motto: You must either mount or fall, rule and win, or submissively give in. Triump, or else yield to clamour: be the anvil or the hammer!
Best advice received: Read, those who don't lose the world and those who do, gain it.
Best tips for designers: Always try to drag a ship across the mountain!
Three things every designer needs: Fait in destiny, acceptance, patience to experience and play.
Newest addition to your studio: The studio itself, my new atelier in Munich
First design that inspired you: Italian tiger-print leather boots.
Photos Alexandre Kurek, Conor Trawinski, Minseong Wang, Philipp Weber