With the exhibition 5 Years kaschkasch Florian Kallus and Sebastian Schneider aka studio kaschkasch celebrate, well, five years of studio kaschkasch.
The foundations for kaschkasch were laid by Florian Kallus and Sebastian Schneider in context of a joint graduation project at the Akademie für Gestaltung Münster, and became reality with the opening of their own studio in Cologne in 2011. An early diet of trade fairs and competitions resulting in projects for Normann Copenhagen and Menu, since when the kaschkasch portfolio has quickly expanded to include manufacturers as varied as Müller Möbelwerkstätten, Bolia or Dreizehngrad.
In our 2016 interview with Florian Kallus he compared those early years, the process of establishing a design studio and trying to secure clients, with that of a car mechanic opening their own garage, “when you first start and have never had a customer it is very difficult to win your first customer, but that first customer then helps you win more customers … once someone has seen that we can, figuratively speaking, repair a car then they are more confident about working with us.“
In which context, and to continue the garage metaphor, the exhibition 5 Years kaschkasch can be viewed as a combination of a workshop, with all the nuts, bolts, blood, tears and sweat involved, and a showroom where the finished models are proudly displayed.
5 Years kaschkasch opens in the “workshop” where nine selected projects are explained in terms of their inspiration, development and technical aspects. Nine projects which according to Florian and Sebastian were selected from the wider kaschkasch portfolio because when viewed together they help visualise and explain the kaschkasch development process, how the studio works.
A particularly nice touch is that the magnetic boards on which the various, photos, sketches and components are presented are identical to the magnetic board in the kaschkasch atelier on which the development of current projects are documented, brain-stormed and guided. One views the product documentation just as Florian and Sebastian do.
Arranged chronologically the workshop begins with the Cap table lamp for Normann Copenhagen and the Bulb coat hook for Schönbuch and then moves over products such as, for example, the shelf Lyn for Müller Möbelwerkstätten or Fju wall mounted desk for Living Divani before ending with the Rail table system for Zeitraum and the Flower Vase for Ligne Roset
While it is obviously unwise, if not impossible, and potentially unhelpful, to compare a lamp or a glass coat hook with a table system, viewing the projects chronologically offers the opportunity to study the development over the past half decade. And in doing so register, in addition to a slowly evolving confidence and scale, a certain unity; less formally, although the projects displayed are all formally very balanced and assured, and more in terms of the way the works conceal their simplicity. There is a very easy, natural simplicity to kaschkasch products, to how they were created and how they function. But one has to discover it, cloaked as it is by the sublime external form. It’s a very nice trick, and not one all can achieve.
The chronological presentation also allows one to follow the slowly increasing complexity of the projects over the years. Running with our garage metaphor, and let’s be honest once we have a metaphor in our hands were about as likely to give it up as a child is a metal drum, having started out working on two stroke engines, Florian and Sebastian are now working on four stroke engines, with all the extra variety and scalability that involves. And thus are at a position which leaves a lot of room for expansion, or the freedom to go backwards to more simpler times. In which context the Flower Vase for Ligne Roset, an object which we saw for the first time in the exhibition, particularly impressed.
Having introduced the kaschkasch portfolio, the way kaschkasch work and the focal points of their design approach, 5 Years kaschkasch then leads the visitor into a “kaschkasch flat” or perhaps more appropriately a “kaschkasch loft atelier”, where the nine products from the workshop are joined by the likes of the Cavetto shelving system for Karl Andersson or the Pepe sofa for Bolia in a domestic/work installation.
Viewed together one firstly receives an understanding of how large the kaschkasch portfolio is. According to Florian, one of the most common questions at the exhibition’s vernissage was if all the works on display were really from the past five years. They are. Yet despite the relatively large number of products nothing feels hurried. Nothing feels forced. And there is an inescapable formal harmony amongst the pieces. Florian and Sebastian obviously feel no temptation to experiment wildly with forms, sticking consequently with that with which they are comfortable, that which they understand as being good form, sensible products, and have obviously developed at a pace with which they are comfortable.
All to often young designers, flush with the first commercial successes, jump here, there and yonder, accepting this commission then that. Some have the talent to master such. The majority don’t. The result is not only an unconnected portfolio but all to often a lack of focus and understanding of what they are doing and for all why they are doing it. And an inevitable loss of control over their work.
That isn’t the case with kaschkasch, there is a very pleasing logic in what they do. It’s not necessarily the most innovative of design, certainly not the most flamboyant, but it is design driven by observation, situation, a solid understanding of the technical necessities of durable, practical products. But above all it’s honest. Honest in conception, honest in realisation, honest in raison d’etre. And honesty is the most important criteria in design.
Although instigated as a celebration of five years kaschkasch, an opportunity to present their work to a wider public than were perhaps familiar with it, according to Sebastian over time the exhibition became increasingly for kaschkasch, increasingly an internal project which allowed them to review, and perhaps more importantly reconnect with, early projects: the nature of the creative process meaning one is, in many respects, always working two steps ahead of where one actually is, and thus can all too easily lose sight of what was undertaken in the past. And for all the why and how it was undertaken. Reconnecting with that can help one move forward in a better, more successful, fashion. At one point in our conversation the word “motivational” was used.
There is of course a metaphor, if not a lesson, in there for us all.
Five years is however, when all is said and done, no time in a design career. Despite the array and variety of products in their portfolio and the diversity of manufacturers with whom they cooperate, kaschkasch are just starting out, have only steadied themselves after mastering their first teetering steps.
Which means that for us, despite being 100% kaschkasch, the works on display are not the real kaschkasch.
Viewing the exhibition we realised that is what has long nagged us about kaschkasch, that knot in our thoughts when viewing kaschkasch products has finally unravelled. kaschkasch aren’t kaschkasch. The real kaschkasch is still developing, is yet to fully emerge, needs much more challenging, wider ranging projects, needs to test itself further. And we have no doubt they will get the chance.
How they respond to that challenge will form the central feature of the forthcoming exhibition 10 Years kaschkasch.
For all in or near Cologne, 5 Years kaschkasch runs at Galerie Ruttkowski;68, Bismarckstraße 70, 50672 Cologne until Sunday January 22nd.
For everyone else more on kaschkasch can be found at http://kaschkasch.com