An interview with Volker Katschinski
Independent from all commercial projects, dan pearlman has created a playground for creative freedom and development, called Objects of Desire (OODs). The ideas for the objects arise spontaneously, quickly and – also in their implementation – without any claim to perfection or functionality. The clear motto for the do-it-yourselfers: “lifestyle, money can’t buy”. The construction plans are published every month in the lifestyle magazine H.O.M.E.
Volker Katschinski, co-founder and creative director of the dan pearlman Group, has been shaping the design series with his creative signature for over 20 years already. In addition to his chief work at the agency, the Objects of Desire offer him a space for free creative thinking and designing without having to take himself or his work too seriously. In the interview, Volker takes us behind the scenes of the design series and reveals, among other, what creativity means to him personally and how important humour is in the process of designing the OODs.
Volker, how do you come up with the ideas for new objects?
“It is always more difficult for a creative to have complete freedom than to work within a clear framework. That is why we have defined three essential parameters for ourselves: First, the idea for the new OOD is always derived from the overarching topic of the respective edition of the H.O.M.E. Second, it must be possible for anyone to replicate the object. It should only take a little bit of skill, not a craftsman’s certificate. The OOD is by no means another ‘handicraft tip’. And finally, it’s always a mix of DIY, art and design, ironic comment and a good dose of humour!”
What inspires you in this process?
“There are various entry lanes we can take! As a team, we often play with words and create a mind map around the respective topic. It actually happened quite often that we found the name of the object first and everything else resulted from that. But sometimes it’s also just simple materials or everyday objects that offer inspiration. We then collect a lot of ‘game material’ that comes from the cosmos of the topic, household sponges, pencils, clothespins, coffee stirrers and much more. And then it starts. There is wild experimentation. How does the material behave, where does the aesthetics come from, how do we get the story across? And we always have in mind that, in the end, there will only be a single photo taken of the object that has to convey the whole idea.”
What does creativity mean to you?
“Creativity is the reason for me to get up in the morning and to go to bed satisfied at night. Creativity is the mindset that I approach life with. Creativity is the godly spark, with which each and every one of us was born. Creativity is the skill, to see an opportunity no matter where you look. A world full of opportunities, that’s where a messy desk can transform into the fantastic model of a city or a metro schedule into a coat rack. Playing, dreaming and provoking coincidences – these are valuable skills that can hardly be replaced by artificial intelligence.”
How important is free designing?
“Free creative work outside the realm of client projects is an amazing playground, a real creative charging station. It is good to “freak out” every now and then, to move things around and turn them upside down and not to take yourself and your work too seriously. But sometimes these fun little exercises turn into real impulses for large projects!”
Which role does humour, the wow-effect and the magic play in the process of the OOD production?
“For 20 years, I have been developing a new object of desire every month, but the fascination never died down. It’s incredible to witness a singular thought at the beginning of the process turn into a finalised object within the matter of just a few days – it’s like watching it in time laps. I’m addicted to these creative moments!”
Do you have a favourite among the Objects of Desire, a piece that was especially fun to create?
“The OODs already have quite the history. When we started, the concept of DIY didn’t even exist. Of course, it was always great when we got a big response to the Objects of Desire. For example, the English newspaper SUN reported on our FOODOO doll, a football voodoo doll. The article stated that the Germans wanted to bewitch the English team.”
Thank you Volker, we are already looking forward to many more years full of creativity and exciting Objects of Desire!