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Benjamin Hubert: My ‘happiness’ is derived more from the energy behind the work
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Benjamin Hubert: My ‘happiness’ is derived more from the energy behind the work

London-based industrial designer, the man who redefine the way we use lighting on relaunching his design studio and restructuring about what politics means to people.

You have a collaboration with Braun to create the immersive ‘foil’ installation for the 2016 London Design Festival. What sparked the idea?

– I’ve had a relationship with Braun for a few years now and we’ve always talked about how we could celebrate Braun’s design heritage in a contemporary and elevated manner. Most people don’t appreciate the engineering that is behind the individual elements of industrialised consumer goods so we thought this was a great place to take inspiration from: let’s take something that is often overlooked, like the shaver, to create a highly immersive experience. ‘Foil’ was a celebration of the foil finish of the head of the next generation of Braun shavers, which, through a multi-sensory installation, transformed visitors’ ideas of the shaver from an object of conventional functionality into a heightened emotional experience.

What inspired you most at the LDF?

– I found it very interesting that the mood around Brexit and the pro-Europe story was being told through the work shown at LDF. It was very poignant to see how the work tapped into the current social feeling and I found that really inspiring. It was also great to see how much the Festival has grown to spread out across the city – from Chelsea across to East London – and become disruptive to the landscape. For example, some of the architectural installations were coming out of the exhibition halls and into the city streets.

Benjamin Hubert & Braun's foil installation at London Design Festival

Benjamin Hubert & Braun’s foil installation at London Design Festival

You have recently relaunched your agency and named Layer “with a focus on creating meaningful experiences based on extensive research and human behaviours.” Why did you need that change?

– Fundamentally, design is about people and how it is used, whether it’s a physical commodity or digital platform. It’s outward-looking, and we were conscious of a sense that the industry was becoming insular and personality-led. I didn’t want my name to be the focal point of what the studio does so it was time to flip the narrative, change the name and focus on driving research through the Layer studio to create those meaningful experiences.

Is there a sector that you’re particularly interested in working in?

– The work that we do is quite broad and we’ve always liked to operate across a lot of sectors to keep our work stimulating and agile. However, we are increasingly interested in thinking about what the areas are that need design, as opposed to just ‘what people would like’. For example, we’re looking at the developing world to understand how design could make a significant improvement and impact on lives there. We’re talking to the enablers, platforms and charities at the moment to try and work out how we can translate our ideas and knowledge to a world that needs them.

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Among all the products you’ve ever designed, which one made you happy most? 

– I don’t think it’s possible to pick just one product as every project is made up of various unique elements. The enjoyment of being in the moment means that your favourite projects are always the ones that you are currently working on, and the ones that occupy your mind. Also, there isn’t just one project that can represent everything – every project has its value and place. My enjoyment and ‘happiness’ is always derived more from the energy behind the work.

If you could redesign anything, what would it be and why?

– Probably the government. The institution of decision-making and the way people drive certain agendas sheds a really poor light on our society. It’s time for a big design restructure and reformulation about what politics means to people. This is what’s timely and pertinent to what’s happening in the world right now.

The enjoyment of being in the moment means that your favourite projects are always the ones that you are currently working on, and the ones that occupy your mind.

What are you still waiting for to design?

– We don’t wait for anything! If we’re interested in a company, service or product, our ethos is to go out there and make the strides needed to achieve it. There can be very little complacency in design, and particularly at Layer we’re like a spider, with hands in lots of different places. Only time will tell which ones will materialise.  – Ali Tufan Koc

 

Cover Photo Credit: Courtesy of Layer Design Studio


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