Daniel Korb has a penchant for simplicity, which is evident in the design of products like Herman Miller’s Sense Desking System. He began his studies in interior design, and he began his professional career with the architectural firm, Zinsmeister and Scheffler, and later migrated to furniture design, all of which provides what he considers a necessary “holistic view of the world.”
His firm, Korb + Korb, which he runs with his architect wife, Susan, reflects that holistic view. Based in Baden, Switzerland, the firm operates at the intersection of architecture, design, and communication, finding creativity and inspiration in the mix. That holistic blend must be fertile ground if Korb + Korb’s impressive list of projects and awards, which include several international awards for the Sense system, are any indication.
Here are seven questions for Daniel Korb:
1. What are you working on right now?
Actually, I’m working on different projects, but my main goal is to understand what I’m really after. Since I’ve worked for more than 25 years as an architect and designer I’m asking myself, What do you really want to achieve? Therefore, I started my own project to determine what does really matter [in the design of a building].
Just as a doctor is responsible for his patient, an architect and designer is responsible for his product and what it means for his customer. To add value is key for me. This could be very basic like choosing the right color for a wall or selecting the right material for a product. I do not only want to facilitate the way people meet, but also I would like to add a certain quality to the space in which they meet and a quality to the furniture involved. We know that a good space can inspire us, and I want to refocus myself on how this quality might be achieved.
2. Of which project are you most proud?
On the product level I am very proud of Sense because of its simplicity and ease. The concept behind Sense was to offer a tool-free assembly process that works as easily as preparing an espresso.
On a personal level I am very happy that Susan and I were able to heal a horse (not our horse) that was in very bad shape. The horse had bursitis in its neck and was in a lot of pain. The owner didn’t want to treat it surgically, so we developed a treatment with homeopathic drugs, rest, and special dietary supplements. Now, a year later, it looks better than ever.
3. What inspires you? Where do you go for inspiration?
Hiking, to a museum, travelling, reading a book, meeting people, music—a lot of inspiring things are around us. More important is to see them and have the time to let inspiration happen.
4. What work do you most admire by another designer or artist?
Once I read about a simple fabric that helps to filter water and save the lives of thousands of children. This is the kind of simple solution I admire the most. There are so many things we don´t reflect upon and take for granted, and we should be grateful that they exist. I believe progress is possible and happens all the time.
5. What would be your dream project?
There is no such thing, and this is probably my personal dilemma. I am interested in so many things that it is always hard to make a decision about what to focus on next. So the next project is my dream project until the next occurs….
6. What place in the world would you most like to visit?
This is a tricky question. I have learned that the idea we have about a place doesn’t always match the reality, and this can go both ways. Sometimes, the place is better when I thought, and sometimes it is not at all as it seemed. I am happy to visit the next place and find out more by watching carefully. Be careful what you ask for.
7. What one thing do you want to accomplish before you die?
When I was young an uncle gave me a book by Confucius. There I found the saying: “Who finds the right way in the morning can die unstressed in the evening” (my translation). I am still looking for this right way.