Two is Better Than One, Sometimes

Edward Carpenter and André Klauser are two independent design talents who have recently begun combining their skills to produce a series of new works including the Easy sofa and chair, the Louvre light and the new Porter table. Here they talk about their accumulated strengths and why working together is a natural fit.

Page 482 1603 Andre Ed

EST: You are both independent designers who produce your own work outside of this relationship but you’ve decided to come together to work on certain projects, why?
Klauser: It was a natural progression. We shared a studio, not really with the intent of working together before we started involving each other in jobs…
Carpenter: And when we did [help each other out] we found we complimented each other: we have different skill sets. André is a fantastic draftsman for example…

EST: Can you elaborate? What are the individual strengths that you bring to the partnership?
Carpenter: When it comes to actually coming up with a concept for a new product we both share that element and we work over each others ideas. I’d say we both bring an idea to the table and then after that it’s open for discussion. The other person might see something entirely differently. André might interpret something completely differently to how I initially intended it.
Klauser: When we work together we come to solutions quite quickly. If you work by yourself you have to develop a new product alone and then come back to it, but we have a readily available fresh perspective. There is always a fresh pair of eyes at the table.
Carpenter: The collaboration started so we could work on more, what’s the word… more industrially-focused products and projects?

EST: Does accumulative talent help with that?
Carpenter: Yes, I think so because as I was saying before, our skill sets really compliment each other. We both have similar ideas about design and come from the same design point, which is obviously essential, and I guess we share a similar sense of humour… we do try to integrate humour in a very subtle way into our products. As you can see… or perhaps not! I think that it is very easy in design to get pigeon-holed and so performing as a duo for us was a way to express more. Our work as a duo is a bit more ambitious I guess. And less personal.

EST: Would you agree that you share an aesthetic?
Klauser: What I’d say is that we admire the same people.

EST: Who do you admire? Or are there any other collaborators or design partnerships that you find interesting?
Klauser: The Bouroullecs — although I’m still not convinced its two people.

EST: Because you never see them both in a room at the same time?
Carpenter: Yes. I’d say they are a really good example of a very successful partnership.
Klauser: I think the difference really is that we have made a point of not giving ourselves a group name and that we want to be seen as individuals within this partnership. I’m looking at, say, the music industry as an example; there it is perfectly fine for somebody to be recognised as a solo artist but then also to collaborate with somebody else.

EST: Is there any danger that people will see you as a package and not individual designers?
Carpenter: I don’t know. For me it’s all about the designing of the product at the end of the day.
Klauser: I think it’s more important that we’re comfortable working in the way we do and I’m not so worried about the way its perceived.

Page 493 1606 Louvre

EST: How did the Easy design come about and how did both your individual strengths pay off in that design?
Carpenter: It started as an idea that we had about folding a chair, basically, though it moved away from that a little in the end.
Klauser: We could go back a step even from that. We sat down and looked at the Established & Sons collection and we identified that they didn’t really have any upholstery, so that’s one thing we wanted to work on.
Carpenter: One of my strengths is being able to know how things are made and to realise designs.
Klauser: There was consideration of many things: for what would sit well in the collection, what would cater to their market and then, obviously, what we liked the most. It was quite a long development.
Carpenter: Originally it started as an idea about upholstering something on the flat and then just folding it up and then locking it onto a frame and from that very simple idea Easy evolved.

EST: Is it a democratic piece?
Klauser: We didn’t try to make a huge statement, we designed something that we liked and that had a more petite scale that we think is functional.
Carpenter: This wasn’t about designing a trend piece, something huge made from acres of fabric.

EST: You worked with a manufacturer from the automotive industry didn’t you?
Carpenter: Yes, the manufacturer normally works with car upholstery. We engineered the foam with air pockets in the seat to make it super comfortable and all the actual patterns for the upholstery were CNC cut so it’s all very controlled and efficient.
Klauser: They didn’t have to use one single staple! It’s an engineered piece. [Ed] Tailored. Plus the frame is manufactured by a workshop that produce pieces for Formula One cars. We looked at their skill set too and applied it to the design by exposing the structure of the frame — its one of the most significant areas of the design.

EST: Are you very hands-on designers?
Klauser: Ed is!
Carpenter: I really like to get involved in the process, I love knowing and seeing how things are made.
Klauser: And sometimes my starting point for a design will be a production technique and sometimes something else will start a project off for me; it could be a detail or something I see, something inspirational.
Carpenter: The most successful products are the ones that combine the two; a great aesthetic with a genius construction and manufacturing method.
Klauser: And we are aware of both of these in our work.

EST: Do you think accumulative knowledge makes a better designer?
Carpenter: The creative input of designers combined with the technical knowledge of good engineers is important.
Klauser: Yes. You learn new things with every project and that’s what inspires you to go away and do another.

Page 492 1605 Easy sofa Page 494 1607 Porter

Photography by Marius W Hansen

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