When design
becomes magic.

A bench like a fallen tree – the trunk is tamed to create the seat area while the crown remains wild and free. Benjamin Graindorge's designs break from convention, yet always remain functional.

SofaScape is a sofa (photo) reminiscent of a softly contoured landscape and clearly illustrates the major influence of Japanese culture on Graindorge's work. The multitude of small leather cushions resemble building blocks and adapt to the individual body and posture.

Graindorge wants in this way to satisfy the human need for the individual and the distinctive. Many of his products come in a wide variety of colours, materials and designs.

For Graindorge, good design must not only be poetic and functional – it should also be as individual and unique as possible. "Industrial design has had its day", he predicts. "Instead of mass-produced products for ten thousand people we would do well to develop small series and individual tools and instruments."

Full brown beard, dishevelled hair, simple white T-shirt – Benjamin Graindorge is more reminiscent of a farmer than a trendy Parisian designer. The 33-year old is one of the most promising young designers in Europe. Even the Financial Times went into raptures about his first solo show in 2011: "Every piece is equally heavenly!" Shapes and colours and above all the many different materials fascinate him: wood, one of the oldest and most elementary materials known to man, marble, which can make light look fragile and translucent, so that it starts to shimmer surreally. Or bones, "an unbelievably pure material", he says almost gushingly.

It all starts with the drawing. Always. A coloured pencil sketch, blurred, nebulous. Like a Rorschach inkblot test. The chaotic maze of lines waits to be untangled, the coloured surfaces have to acquire clear contours, volume, material quality. Only then is the sketch suddenly transformed into a table, a chair, the base of a lamp. "I essentially try to capture moods", explains the Frenchman as he describes his atmospheric drawings.

Graindorge has been experimenting for some time with aquatic plants and fishes. This goes back to his interest in technology and science. Art and literature were an integral part of his upbringing but "science and technology played an even bigger role in our home". After completing his secondary education, he first toyed with architecture but finally decided on design: "I wanted to come closer to things."

This mirror constellation is called Miroir Mirage (photo): What looks like a cloud landscape turns out to be a pointillist combination of thousands of dots and holes.

Text: Kerstin Schweighöfer>

Benjamin Graindorge

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