Munich Creative Business Week 2018 Compact: Gentiana Alba – Tradition und Design

In context of the renovation of the historic Falkenhütte alpine hut, Munich based StudioFaubel were commissioned to develop a formally appropriate, contemporary lighting solution.

During Munich Creative Business Week 2018 the Alpines Museum Munich are presenting with Gentiana Alba – Tradition und Design, not only the result of that commission, but an insight into the development process.

Gentiana Alba by StudioFaubel, as seen at Tradition und Design, Alpines Museum Munich

Gentiana Alba by StudioFaubel, as seen at Tradition und Design, Alpines Museum Munich

Completed in 1923 the Falkenhütte is situated some 1848 metres above sea level and some 100 kilometres south of Munich, and although operated by the German Alpine Club, DAV, stands in Austria.

Arguably unimportant in our border free contemporary Europe, especially in the expanse of the Alps; it’s location is however not entirely insignificant as the current renovation of the Falkenhütte is therefore taking place according to Austrian historic building regulations. Which, by all accounts, don’t leave much room for interpretation.

Thus when project architect Rainer Schmid approached StudioFaubel to develop a lighting system for the Falkenhütte the challenge was to create something which was not only appropriate for the architecture and ambience of the building, but also acceptable to the Austrian authorities.

The result is Gentiana Alba.

Gentiana Alba - Tradition und Design: models prototypes

Gentiana Alba – Tradition und Design: models & prototypes

The inspiration for Gentiana Alba came from an old wooden lamp found in the Falkenhütte, a very dried out, very sorry for itself looking wooden ceiling lamp, depicting a highly formalised gentian. Coupled to this discovery of a part of the Falkenhütte’s interior design history, came the fact that a gentian features in the crest of the Oberland Section of the DAV, who are responsible for the Falkenhütte.

Creative ideas rarely arise ex nihilo, rather almost always arise, when not necessarily ex materia, then certainly from observations and chance encounters. Thus the lamp became a gentian. For it could be nothing but.

In the presentation in the Alpines Museum Munich the development of Gentiana Alba is explained, from the original wooden gentian over models and prototypes to the finished object, and thereby explaining, amongst other aspects, how the form evolved both artistically and in context of the changing functional, technical and production considerations, and in doing so provides a highly focussed snapshot of a design process and the work that exists behind such a simple, unassuming, porcelain object.

Gentiana Alba - Tradition und Design: the wooden gentian lamp

Gentiana Alba – Tradition und Design: the wooden gentian lamp

The last time StudioFaubel featured in these pages it was from IMM Cologne with the folded aluminium Martini chair for Augsburg based Müller Möbelfabrikation, here it is a porcelain lamp created in cooperation with Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg, a 270 year old Munich based porcelain manufacturer. And thus a variety of projects which is, unquestionably, one of those reasons to be genuinely envious of the professional designer, even if on reflection the two projects aren’t that far removed from one another: quite aside from the careful considerations of material and functional factors involved in the development process, both were created in close cooperation between StudioFaubel and a local, Bavarian, manufacturer, manufacturers where although industrial processes are employed, numerous manual, specialist, handcraft stages are essential to realising the finished product.

The traditional, craft, basis of Gentiana Alba is however deliciously juxtaposed by the fact that when installed in the Falkenhütte it will be with a contemporary smart illumination system, thus allowing for a high level of high tech, high altitude control and flexibility. Neatly proving that tradition and modern technology needn’t be mutually exclusive, it is all a question of how, and why, the cooperation occurs.

Gentiana Alba - Tradition und Design, Alpines Museum Munich

Gentiana Alba – Tradition und Design, Alpines Museum Munich

The decision to approch Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg to ask if they would be interested in cooperating on the development of the lamp was made after StudioFaubel had decided to create the lamp from porcelain, a decision made not least on account of the material’s translucence and the thereby achieved illumination and atmosphere; Nymphenburg not only said yes and so brought their experience with porcelain and porcelain forming to the project, but have taken the lamp into their portfolio, thus making it available for all looking for a bit of alpine hut feeling at home.

And while, yes, most will associate the Alps with the blue gentian, Gentiana bavaricas, which is also the species featured in the Oberland section’s crest, gentians can thankfully also be white. Thankfully, not only because a white ceramic lamp is much more practical and pleasing than a blue one, but it saves you from enduring us invoking Heino.

Gentiana Alba – Tradition und Design, can be viewed at the Alpines Museum Munich, Praterinsel 5, 80538 Munich until Sunday March 11th

Full details on Gentiana Alba, and all StudioFaubel’s work, can be found at

Gentiana Alba - Tradition und Design, Alpines Museum Munich

Gentiana Alba – Tradition und Design, Alpines Museum Munich

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