Fabrice Aeberhard and Christian Kaegi are two young industrial designers who have incorporated Swiss values in their work, producing design which is solid, unadorned and attractive.
SIRE2. Natural horn eyewear. Photo: Nadine Ottawa
After studying industrial design at Zurich's College of the Arts (Hochschule der Künste) they began their careers in snowboard clothing and transportation respectively before deciding to combine their skills in September 2006, since when they have successfully run the Aekae design studio.
SIRE3. Photo: Nadine Ottawa
Christian Kaegi is not an early bird. As he told me on a September morning in a pavement café in Zurich, he prefers working at night when the telephone has stopped ringing. His mind is already working, however.
Hiveclub, Zürich, Switzerland. In collaboration with M41LH2. Photo: Daniel auf der Mauer
At Aekae the focus is very much on the interest and the enthusiasm which the designers can invest in a product, and their enthusiasm hardly seems to have any limits. Their first order was a private yacht, and it was this order that gave them the financial independence that enabled them to expand into other areas of design.
Hiveclub. Photo: Daniel auf der Mauer
A yacht, a café, furniture, clocks, bags, spectacles, a club: your design ranges far and wide – where does all this diversity come from? We restrict ourselves to what appeals to us, what interests us and what we enjoy spending our time on.
"The design differences between cultural areas are clearly noticeable and also influence the way materials are used." Photo: Daniel auf der Mauer
I was especially impressed by their collection of bags. Robust, ingenious and stylish, QWSTION luggage promises a pleasant and well-organised trip: Aekae has been involved in creating a new brand of bags that suit travelling needs throughout the metropolitan world. By questioning the norm, a range of different styles was develooped. New features and models are not driven by seasons but by the desire to innovate assentials. QWSTION bags are built from a functional perspective whilst giving the product a distinctive look. Inspired by parachutist gear, strong nylonstraps and a durable coated cottoncanvas are used to make the QWSTION bags last.
The only part of his work as a designer which Christian is not particularly fond of is price negotiating. Otherwise he loves every aspect of his work, drawing inspiration for his ideas from the most diverse sources. He likes things which are reduced to their essentials, as is the case with the Swiss military bicycle standing in front of the café where we're sitting.
QWSTION. Photo: Nico Schaerer
The Bauhaus has now been in existence for 90 years. To what extent does this era still influence the design of today? Bauhaus design was revolutionary and its influence is still very much alive, especially in Switzerland. This is very different to Holland, for example, where the tendency is always to surround poetical and unusual things with a complex story. Here everything is much more direct.
Aekae regards itself as very much part of Swiss design tradition. Photo: Nico Schaerer
What is Aekae's position on the much-discussed subject of sustainability? Our real problem is the growth in population, which inevitably leads to excessive use of our resources. Sustainability is a necessity! But unfortunately we all too often see things which look as if they are sustainable, but turn out not to be when we take a closer look. We prefer it the other way round!