There is a lack of creative new blood in Germany? You must be kidding. Barbara Benz discovered three passionate designers for herself and her customers.
Lenz and Leif
“I just wanted to make beautiful blankets,” says Matthias Honold. This smart entrepreneur got that perfectly right. He has been making elegant cushion covers, cuddly blankets and, of course, his “Hot Friends” – his name for his handmade hot-water bottle covers that reminds one a little of turtleneck Sweaters – under the label Lenz & Leif since 2010. Incidentally, the designer himself loves wearing turtleneck sweaters. All the products in the Lenz & Leif Collection are made from extra-fine merino wool, which Honold has processed exclusively in Germany. For this, he sought out a few first-rate textile companies in a small town in Thuringia. “They have the latest machines and fantastic expertise, producing knitwear of the highest quality,” he explains enthusiastically. He has been passionate for fashion ever since he was a child. Small wonder, coming from the textile stronghold of Metzinger, with Hugo Boss’ tempting factory shop almost on his doorstep. A major part of his pocket money found its way into noble design pieces.
But how does a management expert become a knitwear expert? Once again, fashion was key: For more than seven years, Honold managed the fashion label Haute Casual together with his twin brother Ulrich. He gained a lot of experience in fine knitwear and its producers. The young manager carried out the strength test himself: “I wore our pullovers as sweatshirts and told myself that if the fibres survived me, every blanket in the world could be made from them.” The feedback on the quality of his Lenz & Leif products is indeed overwhelmingly positive. The complaint rate is less than 0.5 percent.
Designs with a combination of two colours – usually an earthy tone complemented by a pop colour – are also becoming increasing popular. For these, Honold finds inspiration in nature. “The soil, the trees, the plants, the sky – you discover new colours every day,” says Honold, a passionate traveller. Venturing into the mountains for a “comedown” – for example – but also to Australia to dive. Down under, he is fascinated more than anything by the unique colour spectrum of the Great Barrier Reef. He regularly travels to the south of France, where he lived for a few years. The golf resort Terre Blanche is one of his favourite places in the Côte d‘ Azur outback. “There’s no stress there,” Honold explains. What does luxury mean to this successful businessman? The most important thing is to have time for family and friends – and good health, of course. And where does the name Lenz & Leif come from? “They were my Gordon Setters, the two most important creatures in my life.” They live on in the company name. And in silhouettes on cushion covers, blankets, and hot-water bottles. in grey, beige, camel, or dark blue.
Shade, Botanic, Sepia, or Light are the names of the versatile Doris Bank collections. The 52-year-old shapes paper-thin porcelain and ceramic into puristic cups, bowls, and vases. Each piece is modelled, glazed, and decorated by hand. On some, you can still feel the textures and modelling traces on the mostly unglazed surface. “Living, organic shapes that invite touch are created this way,” says Bank about her award-winning work. Decades of experience allow her to shape the extremely translucent porcelain into filigree objects for the Light series. These objects, shaped from very thin rolled porcelain plate, are uniquely beautiful. The thin-walled vessels make you think of handmade paper with their fascinating light and shadow effects. On the inside, transparent glazes gleam in agate green and celadon. Every item is a handmade one of a kind.
26 letters. Ten numbers. Five lines of design and more than 2000 products. These are the words that Type Hype uses to describe the idea and history of their company, founded in 2013. The designers Kirsten Dietz and Jochen Rädecker are behind the label. After more than 20 years of carrying out commissions for top brands like Audi, BASF, Munich RE, Volkswagen, or Vorwerk the two brand and communication professionals have started a new business. Aside from looking after their successful design office – Strichpunkt [semi-colon] – the two are now concerned about the simple things in life, making biscuit jars and kitchen utensils, notebooks and greeting cards, but also smartphone covers, cotton bags, and cushions with numbers, letters, and graphic patterns. They have remained faithful to the creative typography game. At the same time, their lovingly-designed products make the hearts of all those who long for the palpable and tactile in this digital age beat faster.