Interview with Defne Koz

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Whether it’s a vase, glass collection, ceramic tile, luminaire, car tyre, sofa or wash basin – her creations are quite simply beautiful – and sensuous. And she has the looks to match. In the course of the interview, however, the Milan and Chicago-based product and interior designer turns out to be not just charming and sensitive but tough and uncompromising as well – especially when it comes to quality issues in design. She thinks today’s design scene is lacking in diligent research, serious design, passion and courageous visions for the future. Following her participation in this year’s Trendboard Workshop for the imm cologne, I meet her on the banks of the Rhine for an extensive interview. “I want my future back,” she calls self-confidently into the wind that accompanies our conversation, bracing herself against aesthetics that relish in doom-mongering and melancholy. She herself sees a future full of objects made of light that can be seen but not touched, materials that surprise you with their lightness, spaces made tangible by sound and technology that is both designed to be sensuous and controlled by the senses. 

The Turkish-born product designer adopted her design philosophy from none other than Ettore Sottsass and believes today’s designers are no match for “the old guard” when it comes to strength of character. In her opinion, simply sticking a fork into a chicken to make a lamp doesn’t constitute design. But nor, she believes do over-cautious designers do their profession any favours by timidly advancing from the status quo a millimetre at a time. Design has to be updated by a process of revolutionary evolution, she says, old techniques, rituals and forms have to be translated into the present without constantly repeating themselves. And then she contritely admits that she is gradually becoming a fan of Philippe Starck, even though she tended to disapprove of his earlier works and self-dramatisation; but now she is increasingly coming across his name in connection with unusual and innovative product concepts. And her own works are likewise located somewhere between design tradition and visions of the future, between artisanship and industry, avant-garde concepts and consumption. Defne Koz wants her future back? It’s spread out before her, ready for the taking.