Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Chris Herbold ("CH") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?

CH : Originally I am an engineer specializing in lighting technology, but I have always made the connection between the passion for technology and the passion for beautiful things. For example, I have been involved in the development of forms that offer both technical and aesthetic advantages in lighting technology.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?

CH : I like to be surrounded by beautiful things myself and I enjoy it every day. But it is even more enjoyable when others enjoy my things.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?

CH : It was my own decision.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?

CH : Due to my (lighting) technical background, I mostly design decorative or technical luminaires. For the future, I wish that related things, such as controls, will be added.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?

CH : Fight for your dream! (I am still doing that...)

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?

CH : A great designer creates designs that last forever (or at least for a very long time ...). A distinction is therefore hardly possible in the present, but time shows it.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?

CH : Surprise, peculiarity, attraction, balance, excitement - these are terms that I associate closely with really good design and that help me with the evaluation.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?

CH : The ability to make people happy - every day. It does not matter if it's about form or function. If everything fits together, you will be happy about the product.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?

CH : I would like to develop the design of even more lights, which enchant people with special lighting effects. I would also like to work with big brands to bring the design to many people - but that is not a question of time ...

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?

CH : A huge light installation has been developing in my mind for a long time. I hope someday is time to put it into reality.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?

CH : Special technical components that support the design or even determine it and make it special.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?

CH : There are many, like Alvar Aalto, Eileen Gray, Christian Dell, Rennie Mackintosh, Rosemarie and Rico Baltensweiler, Gio Ponti, Egon Eiermann – just to name a few.

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?

CH : If you look at the designs of the above people, you will find a lot of great things. I like them because they all have a peculiarity that at surprise first and rejoice every day.

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?

CH : These are for sure the luminaires of the vanory Estelle family. They combine traditional materials and craftsmanship with innovative lighting technology. This creates special lighting effects that are surprising and always inspiring.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?

CH : Going around the world with open eyes, collecting inspirations, trying things out, rejecting them, starting afresh, adapting, having fun.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?

CH : I would do exactly the same - develop technical things. But they would not be so nice.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?

CH : For me, design is the combination of many aspects of a product, such as its function, shape, materials, workmanship and usability. In my designs everything is focused on the user and suits him and his needs.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?

CH : The people around me: my family, my friends and colleagues. During the development of new projects, questions arise constantly and it is important to discuss them continuously in order to achieve at a perfect result.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

CH : The people who told me early "I like that" or "I do not like it" - that gives courage and motivation for further developments.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?

CH : I cannot remember obstacles. I have gone my (technical) way and the design has evolved over the years to accompany it.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?

CH : Digital media today offers so many possibilities for presentation, but it is still only a reduction of the overall design. It is only fully understood when experienced in reality. But the digital media can animate to want to experience it in reality.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?

CH : Always new surprises.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?

CH : Normally, I should not wish that, but it would be great to get one of our luminaires back in 50 years with a request to fix it for the use within the next 50 years. Then I'm sure it has a timeless design…

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?

CH : Things to love for a long time.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

CH : Design can help here on several levels. It makes a society more sustainable, it connects people and cultures and it transcends borders.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?

CH : At the moment I am working on several projects of vanory. We will soon expand the Estelle family but also build a whole new family - with great lighting effects.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?

CH : These are definitely the luminaires of the vanory Estelle family, because we have received so much positive feedback for the products and have often heard that people have fallen in love with Estelle.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?

CH : I do not expect a big change, but a continuous development. Especially with regard to the rapid progress of new manufacturing processes, I see exciting things coming our way.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?

CH : I think everything that makes products "smart" will become even more of a focus in design. At vanory, we deal with smart lighting products, but the integration and control makes it really good for the user. This will be an important task for the design.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?

CH : That strongly depends on the project. The Estelle family of smart luminaires for example was a way of about two years as there was development of hard- and software that goes together with the product design.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?

CH : Normally I start with some sketches but then go on very fast with a functional prototype to see how it feels in reality.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

CH : Amaze!

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?

CH : Both are very closely related, but in my opinion the design usually sets the trends, because good design is necessary to create trends.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?

CH : Technology is often the beginning and provides the basis for inspiration and ideas that will be translated into products later in the design process.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?

CH : Pen and paper, later also CAD and virtual models. The 3D printer also helps us a lot to consider all the details in product development.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?

CH : A very big role, because it's part of the design and can make a design great as well as destroy it.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?

CH : I'm glad when people are curious and ask, "how does that work?". Then I realize that they are dealing with it and want to know all the details.

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?

CH : At first I'm happy and excited. Then I try to find the reasons for that and start a kind of analysis.

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?

CH : The nature. It offers so many inspirations and suggestions for good design. If I am not satisfied with a detail of a design, then I take a look at nature. It always offers a way to solution.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?

CH : My family, friends and colleagues. Every design needs many discussions before it is finished.

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?

CH : Mainly books and essays on buildings all over the world. These often give me inspiration and ideas for new things.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?

CH : I always start and develop new projects - learning by doing.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?

CH : All the people I mentioned above (question 12).

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?

CH : I have not been known as a designer for so long, so every award is something special for me. I hope that will always be the case.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?

CH : Object dependent, by the sea, apples, autumn, Estelle, vanory

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?

CH : Several years ago, we developed a design for easy lighting control. To test if it's really easy, we worked with older people. That was nice and fun and a complete success.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?

CH : There are many things that make a nice day. This can be, for example, a presentation of a design that inspires people or even a day in the studio where work is done until late at night. The motivation at the beginning of the day is to know at the end of the day that something has been created that lasts.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?

CH : Not for me, but for others…

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?

CH : It will take a lot of effort for people to continue to live well on earth, but I am sure they will succeed and have a good future in harmony with nature.

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?

CH : Are you interested in our products and projects or just want a coffee? Just come by in the vanory manufactory, Karlsruhe, Germany.



vanory Estelle Luminaire

vanory Estelle Luminaire by Chris Herbold

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