Odd socks, ‘too cool for school’ hair and some very exciting furniture, Alex Mueller is next in my series of interviews with Clerkenwell Design Week House of Detention exhibitors. Born in Austria, based in London and still studying for his BA in Furniture and Product Design, he is definitely one to watch. I was keen to find out more…
What’s the most important thing to know about you?
I don’t know if it is the most important thing, but all my work is very closely connected to making. Once I start a new project, I can’t wait to get into the workshops and start playing around with materials. Another thing of interest might be that I grew up in Austria, which might be the reason I love cakes so much!
What inspires your designs?
I draw inspiration from everything around me. I think London is a vital source of my inspiration. Moving to London just opened my eyes and allowed me to get inspired by people I meet, architecture in the city, galleries and museums… sometimes just a bus ride on the 15 bus can influence my design work.
Talk me through your design process from initial idea to final product?
With the Woven Easy Chair, I started off with the aim to body-cast a seating area. I looked at different ways of casting but kept ergonomics in mind as well. My initial idea was to create a timber frame, which holds a body-cast Concrete Canvas seating area. I redeveloped the chair through prototyping on a 1:1 scale to the final version you can see on the images, which is inspired by Naum Gabo. So in short, I have an idea I want to realise, I look for the right ways, quite often via making, and end up with functional pieces of furniture that sometimes drift a little bit into art.
How do you overcome creative block?
If nothing is working out for me, I sometimes just have to put a rom-com on and completely forget about work! Whilst watching, I tend to get really annoyed with myself, and that usually leads to new ideas or solutions for problems.
Describe a really good day in the life of Alex Mueller?
A good day for me is when when I get home and feel knackered because of the amount of work I managed to do or I am super-excited because I worked out a tricky joint or I’m working on a new project.
What are you most looking forward to about Clerkenwell Design Week?
I am really excited about Clerkenwell Design Week, and not only because I’m going to graduate the week after! It is an amazing platform to showcase my work and to get some feedback from industry professionals. I am hoping to make some contacts and see it as an opportunity to kick start my career – I am very optimistic.
What are you most proud of?
That’s a tricky one. I am still working on getting out there and making a name for myself. Can I answer that question after Clerkenwell Design Week?!
How do your products make people’s lives better?
My pieces have an intended function, of being able to sit on them or work at them. But, I try to bring craftsmanship and tacit knowledge to all my work. My aim is not to make pieces which are pretty. If they are, that’s a benefit, but my work is more about consideration of materials, craftsmanship and the longevity of my products.
What advice would you give to someone who aspires to do what you do now?
I don’t think I am at a stage in my life where I’m qualified to give advice to other people, but my Grandmother always said that working hard and being on time are crucial in anything you do. So I think that’s the advice I would give.
And finally, what’s your favourite colour?!
I have many favourite colours, so I think ‘colourful’ would have to be my answer.
Further reading for the especially geeky:
Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.
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