Interview: Sebastian Bergne
by Gimena / October 19, 2006

Sebastian Bergne is an established designer that lives and works in London and Bologna. As you can read in this interview, his work is characterized more by his problem solving approach than by a formal style. In addition, as he says, “If an object can stimulate a smile whilst, or even because of performing its function, it is well designed.”. You’re invited to crack a smile after the jump. That's a conductor's baton above. GP

Slim and Jim seating, “simple yet remarkable because of their proportions”, for Triangolo-Curvet Ambienti.

When did you decide to become a designer?
It happened over about ten years between the age of 14 to 24. I consider that I became a designer once I had managed to create a product that was available for people to buy.

Where do you do most of your design work?
In my head

Where, or from what, do you get inspiration for your work?
From anywhere. The secret is not to look for it.

How does it work? Could you describe the mental process of elaborating inspiration into projects?
It is very hard to describe a mental process. In fact the word “process” implies that it is a conscious and repeatable action. This is not the case. Sometimes an idea just comes to mind and the design is more or less finished. In other cases there is a more complex process where there are necessary technical issues that need to be solved first and guide you to a certain point in the project. Then it’s a question of distilling the chaos of ideas, letting one clear idea come across or just letting an innovative technical solution take the lead in a design. Each project is different, the common link is me.

Is design for you a mostly intellectual activity rather than a hands on process? How much do you need to get in touch with materials?
For me, design is a cycle of an intellectual process followed by hands on. It is very important to have something real in front of me as soon as possible. It is only then that I can go back to thinking and then back to hands on.. etc.. etc.. until I reached a point where I am happy.

What is your favorite part of the design process and why?
See the finished product in a shop or in someone’s house.

How would you label/categorize your work?
I hope that the products I design are clear, direct, a pleasure to use and to live with.

Agili space-saving folding stand mixer for Moulinex.

Do you have a signature style? If yes, what are the hallmarks of your style?
The constant thread in my work is more my approach to solving design problems than a formal style.

So we probably could say that problems are your greatest inspiration source?
Designed objects all have some function. How to achieve this function or solve manufacturing or user problems is fundamental to the design process. In this sense these problems are more than the inspiration they are the reason for designing.

Who are your favorite designers and/or architects?
Naming a few would be unfair on the others

Corker three-ended corkscrew, “the object evolves as different bottles are opened”.

What item (PC, pen, etc) can you not do without when you are designing?
My glasses or contact lenses.

What's next?
I hope to be able to continue what I am doing but better. I still make to many mistakes.


Full name: Sebastian Bergne
Location: Between London and Bologna
Size of team: between 2 and 5 depending on projects
In business since: 1990
Claim to fame projects: You tell me …
Spare time: Cooking, looking and living

Favorite website(s): Designer, writer and teacher Tim Parsons has a simple, effective and interesting site with not only his design and written work but also one of the best design related links lists I know, this site showing graphic design and art direction work by Dixonbaxi is refreshing, this page at North Carolina State University Department of Physics gives access to many interesting films of Physics experiments, and for great experimental images accessible through this basic site visit
What music is on your iPod or radio? All kinds of music. Latest additions are some rediscoveries. Remain In Light – Talking heads and Led Zeppelin 3
Your favorite magazine(s): My favorite magazines to read are The Week, Domus, New Scientist
Last or current book you are reading: Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters
Last movie you saw: Ice age 2 (with my children)

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