Sebastian Herkner's insatiable appetite for creativity fuels each new day

Featuring a mix of woven fibres developed in collaboration with colourist Giulio Ridolfo, Herkner's MBrace lounge chair (pictured) takes comfort to heart. Dedon presented Mbrace at the Salone del Mobile 2016.

German designer Sebastian Herkner gives Frame a glimpse of his daily routine. 

SEBASTIAN HERKNER: 'My alarm goes off at 6 a.m. I usually run on about five hours of sleep. I’m a night owl, I can’t fall asleep before midnight. The first thing I see in the morning is my boyfriend. I start my day with a glass of water. Sometimes I’ll have a cup of tea if I need the extra buzz. I don’t eat in the morning. Lunch is my breakfast.

I live in an apartment above my studio in Offenbach, which is close to Frankfurt. I’m usually at my desk by 6 or 7 a.m. and typically work until around 10 p.m. I work long days, but I don’t mind. I love my work and do it with passion. Most of my day is spent dealing with practical matters, such as calling clients, doing interviews et cetera. It’s only after regular working hours, when everyone else goes home, that I can do my sketching and be more creative.

The studio is on the ground floor of an old fur and leather workshop. Offenbach used to be famous for its leather goods. It’s an interesting space with beautiful metalwork over the windows. We’re a small team of four at the moment. We all sit around a big communal table in the middle of the office. My desk is a bit messy, but I like that. Somehow I always know where everything is. 

If the weather is nice, we sit in the courtyard and eat lunch together in the sun. There’s a market down the road that opens three times a week and sells goods from the region. Sometimes I get lunch from there. There’s also an Indian restaurant next door where I go often. I know the menu off by heart now. Lunchtime is a good opportunity for me to get some fresh air. Otherwise, I might never leave the building. 

I cook dinner for myself two to three times a week. The rest of the time I’m out dining with friends. I have loads of recipe books, but I never use them. I think creative people are good cooks by nature. We cook with our instinct and feel for colour.

I’m typically travelling about half the week, usually to visit clients, like Moroso or Dedon. The nice thing about being so close to Frankfurt Airport is that I can meet a client in London or spend the day at the Salone del Mobile and be back home for dinner. I love coming to the Salone. It’s always an exciting time. I basically grew up at Salone Satellite.

In my free time, I like looking at architecture or visiting galleries, exhibitions and museums. Holidays are usually a disaster for me. I get bored really easily. I can’t just sit on a beach for two weeks; I need to see something cultural. My holidays need to be connected to design somehow. Last year I went to Colombia, where I met local craftsmen. This year I’m going to Japan. No matter where I go, I carry my green case, with all my pens, and a notebook. I can’t sketch on an iPad. I prefer to work by hand.

I like to send postcards when I’m abroad, but they’re getting harder and harder to come by. It’s a big problem in Shanghai, actually. Each year for Christmas, I make my parents a scrapbook with all the pictures from my travels and other things I’ve done throughout the year. I think traditional gestures are important, especially today. They have tactility and real value.

My apartment is filled with artisanal pieces that I collected on my travels. My flat is anything but a white cube. What’s my favourite souvenir? That’s difficult to say; it’s always changing. I bought a beautiful glass house when I was in Tokyo a while back, which I keep on the dining table. I also have some kokeshi dolls, which I really love.

I’m always happy to come home. It’s where I feel most comfortable. I don’t do anything special to unwind before bed. I do normal things like check my email, the news and Instagram. I like to use Instagram to view my designs in private settings. You never know how people are going to use or treat what you designed. It’s something you can’t control, which I find interesting. Once I’ve caught up with the world, I unplug and drift away.'

Herkner has joined forces with German department store Alsterhaus for the redesign of its historical Hamburg location. The project will be unveiled this October and will mark Herkner’s first venture into interior design.

Portrait Antonio Campanella

This interview originally featured in Frame #111. Get your copy today in the Frame Store!

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