Design & Decoration S03 ep9 : Christoph Katzler, Numen For Use Design, [Vienna]
Interview with Christoph Katzler
Sven Jonke, born 1973 in Bremen, Germany Design degree from the Study of Design in Zagreb. Christoph Katzler, born 1968 in Vienna, Austria Design degree from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Nikola Radeljkovic, born 1971 in Sarajevo, Bosnien and Hercegovina Design degree from the Study of Design Zagreb. The group was founded in 1998 and since then developed products with Cappellini, Interlübke, Desalto, MDF Italia, Moroso, Magis, Zanotta and others. Interiors and events are designed in close collaboration with graphic and multimedia designers Jelenko Hercog and Toni Uroda under the label NUMEN.
We have two labels basically. One is FOR USE which is for the product design what we design for
Italian, German or whatever companies. And NUMEN is everything else what we do, this is for
making design for events or making objects like this one or also we do a lot of set designs.
I started actually with an apprenticeship for carpentry then I recognised that I want to do
something more creative then I started to study industrial design on the University of Applied Arts
and then I met my two colleagues and since then we are working in the field in the broader field of
In the first ten years we really went for especially furniture design and so we said let’s go to Italy
and then we went immediately.
We have a lot of designers, we have architect students which want to be designers, everybody
wants to be a designer and there are not so many companies which make nice stuff.
Every now and then you have this real seller which is normal enough and has this little kick which
is for the clients good reason to have it so this is like writing a hit, you don’t know if you over do
it, it may be great work but it won’t sell and people won’t listen so much or you’re too normal and
to similar to others.
The designing process in most cases is really we listen to each other. One of us is always running a
specific project and the others are giving input. For example one of us is very much involved in
theatre because he loves to be around actors and with this theatre world. I am at the moment a little
bit more involved into this free projects, this is kind of free project because we developed it
without any idea of commercialising it later we just said we want to do this and want to
experiment with the effect. I am at the moment more into this.
The director he tells you what is his idea of the show, how he wants to interpret it, it and then you
go and make proposals. But what we do also now in recent year that we make our own research,
develop our own vocabulary and we make tests with materials with effects or whatever and when
we come then to something we just store it in our mind and when it fits we use it.
This object we had the idea and then director for theatre came and said come on let’s make a show
for inferno from Dante, then we were thinking okay it would be great to fill this really huge
baroque theatre with this mirror cube and the audience is sitting here and looking inside and the
dancers and the actors are all inside lost in infinite and this infinite was kind of hell.
One, two three sides use the spy mirror, the spy mirror’s you know from the police, and then I
thought like you know this is really so elastic why not closing it and pumping some air inside and
then it gets convex and when you take out, air out it gets concave and by this you deform the space
and all the reflections in there.
But for dancers it was okay because everywhere they looked they see themselves and can control
their body you know, normally they train in front of a mirror so for them it was okay, for the actors
it was partly a little bit difficult because when it’s down you don’t see the audience and this is a
little bit absurd for them because they just see themselves no.
At the moment we make now something also interesting it also came from a set design. I had the
idea you know these tapes what you use for wrapping a parcel, I had the idea let’s put some sticks
and then the dancer takes the tape and runs around so he’s kind of he has a tape and he leaves his
traces and so but he has then he makes kind of also recordings which is a kind of I say call it tape
recordings whatever but by running and running and running over and running under they are also
building kind of volumes out of this and the interesting thing then this transparent tapes gets so like
a spider net or like so sleek and slimy and then we try to do it and then we recognised that it really
they make wonderful volumes which are totally complicated in computer it would be horrid to
make them because they’re so complicated and then we said okay let’s make an exhibition and not
make the performance just let’s see how the shapes really get and then we made this in a huge
gallery and got all of the sudden super nice shapes so this is again the cross over from the theatre
goes to performance art installation whatever.
The next time we were invited to do something at the Vienna Design Week and we didn’t find a
space and then just the attic on top of my house was empty and we just invaded it and made it in
this old Viennese wooden attic, connected it on this wooden construction and this was really then
for everybody rather impressive.
For this first test we went to the supermarket, bought the sticky tape, immediately recognised we
need a little bit more then we went to the next supermarket and you know at the end all the
supermarkets were totally empty because we needed this big amount of tape, although we used
very little amount of tape it was carrying it us and then we know this is kind of really interesting.
Actually what we wanted to do is to connect these two buildings to build a bridge, kind of bridge
between two buildings. What for me will be interesting when you come up from the stairs to have
really there this big bridge and having these people really flying on 5 metres high when you go
inside it gives you the feeling of security, it reminds them on … but on the other side, sticky tape
you know come on, is this really holding me? So it’s this kind of double, it’s kind of double sided.
Applied artist likes that he makes something what people really like. This is something totally
different than the art normally does, it makes you being a little bit like a kid.
In Austria when a designer sneaks into art then this is really like a no no.
In the beginning it looks like a big mess and it’s like a big waste of plastic tape, slowly seeing how
this gets more and more into what they have seen in the picture and especially then on the first day
when they have to go inside and also glue it from inside then this is like I cannot believe you
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Christoph Katzler, Numen For Use Design, Vienna