Hi Tino and welcome to /neim/ creative family! As a designer, how would you describe your profession in five words?
Ever changing – exciting – physical – under evaluated – my dream.
OK, let’s open up a wider conversation about your profession: how do you plan things, what’s your work process & how do projects actually start, change and finish?
The work process is different for every project. From the starting point it can develop in very different directions and you never know where it is going to end up.
Have you found a favourite material to work with?
No. I like to change materials and always explore new ones.
Interesting! How many projects do you work on at the same time?
I would say that I always work on at least 3 projects at the same time. Usually more.
Do you have any projects or collaborations you work on aside for free?
For some self initiated projects I never know, if they will ever be commercially viable. So yes, they could end up being ‘free’ or that I even pay to realize them.
So how do you decide what to charge for your work?
It really depends. Commercial projects can best be valued on a day rate basis. The more artistic projects are hard to be valued and are often more to get recognition than to make money.
Do you work with a team at your design studio?
Permanently it’s only me. I do work with freelance assistants or interns though.
So how many ‘hats’ do you wear to run your own business and how do you combine creative work with business handling, such as accounting etc.?
I actually enjoy doing the accounts, spread sheets, emails etc. as a balance to the creative and handy work.
Speaking about balance, is it possible to financially survive from being an independent designer in your profession or do you need to have a regular work on aside? What are your thoughts?
I think there are many examples that it is possible. But definitely not for all of us. It’s a very competitive market.
True. Is this the biggest challenge you face professionally or is there any bigger?
Because every project is a baby in a way, we take criticism very personally. I think it’s harder to distinguish between personality and work than it is in other jobs.
OK, but you do have a project you’re mostly proud of as an independent product designer?
Usually my most recent projects are my favourite, because it’s the closest to my recent mind set. So in this case this would be the Anodised Wicker collection.
Passion & influence
Do you remember when you felt a crush on creativity for the very first time?
I was doing creative stuff as a kid.
And when did you realise that design is your niche?
I think the word product design first got to my mind when I was about 13.
Did your parents work in the creative field?
My parents both work for big industrial companies in Germany. Even though their background isn’t creative, they always empowered me to do what I want and supported me in that.
In general, do you think creativity lies in the genes?
A part is in the genes and another part is education, I think.
The idea, start & lessons
What was your creative path right up to your own design studio? Did you have a regular job?
I worked for galleries and part time for commercial companies. One foot was always in my own studio.
Was there anything specific you’ve done to convert your idea of an own design studio into reality?
It just happened naturally and gradually and I’ve been doing it for nearly my whole professional life. The best thing is just to do it and don’t doubt it. If it’s a fail, that’s OK, too.
And how much did you know about running your own business?
Not much. I learned it by doing.
People say ‘fake it till you make it’. Would you agree or disagree?
To a certain degree yes, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to be stuck in a project and then realise that you actually can’t handle it.
What are your top resources that helped you with your business?
The websites, that first published my work, friends, supportive people, I worked with.
Do media, social media and exhibitions play a part in getting clients for your studio? What are the top 3 traction channels that work for you the best?
Social media is very important today. Word of mouth – press – Instagram – in that order.
Do you remember how you got your first projects/clients and how long did it take you?
I don’t even know. It’s gradual. I think it was through a friend back in Italy.
What was the first product you designed?
It was some post-it gimmick in my BA.
Did you have unpaid projects/collaborations when you started as an independent designer?
Of course I did. I wish this wasn’t the case, but it seems inevitable and it’s good to get exposure.
How much, do you think, location affect work & career?
It affects you very much. It keeps you going, which is why I like London, even though I never consciously decided to live here.
So in conclusion, what do you think is the best path to your profession?
There is no best path. Everyone needs to find their own. Some people find it in their studies, others find it in other ways. A lot of practice definitely helps.
How far do you allow yourself to plan things ahead?
I try to plan things, but it doesn’t always work out. You need to stay flexible.
Where do you want to go with your career? Is there something you really dream of creating?
Let’s see where it goes. I would obviously like to work on bigger projects than I am doing now. The absolute dream would be a boat or a plane, as I have an obsession with transportation technology.
Speaking of travels, do you prepare for holidays or does it happen spontaneously?
I love to travel. Often I manage to combine that with work.
OK, let’s imagine… If you weren’t in your profession, what would you do?
I have no clue to be honest. Maybe in banking :).
Tino, you’re new at /neim/ creative family, but how would you describe /neim/ in your own words?
An interesting collaborative experiment from creative people. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.