Interview with BODO SPERLEIN
How did you get started in this field?
I came to London 12 years ago because it was the most creative city in Europe, and I wanted to design in an interesting material. Ceramics, I felt, had long been neglected and pooh-poohed. I wanted to push china to new limits.
Tell us about your design process.
The starting point is always the material. For example, with the pewter products I’ve just done for Mulberry, I knew that pewter was beautiful, but I didn’t know very much about it. I went to see manufacturers–the best in the field–to look at what they were doing. I always dissect what is possible and then go back and design. That way, I minimize headaches but still produce something unique.
Who are some of your collaborating manufacturers?
Besides Mulberry, I designed the leather U Turn chair for Alma Home, U.K.–it’s also available through Salon Moderne in New York. I was the first contemporary designer to create a collection for Nymphenburg Porzellan in Munich. For 100% Design in September, I’ve been working on stone furniture for Capital Marble and a fireplace for CVO Firevault.
And your custom projects? Hospitality collaborations would seem natural.
Right now, I’m getting actively involved with hotels. A lot of them don’t want to buy off-the-shelf. They need an individual style to give people a reason to stay. I’m also consulting on the banquet hall of a private house outside London. There’s a bespoke part to it, with table settings and lighting that combine contemporary design with classic appeal.
Let’s talk about London. What do you think catapulted it to the center of the international design scene?
Education is definitely the key. In Britain, art and design are generally strong subjects. I think that England’s system is closer to the Bauhaus teaching methods than any other country’s.