"I do hope my products will outlive their creator" - Jaïr Straschnow
Weltevree is all about durable products and smart solutions. A designer that fits right in with this philosophy is Jaïr Straschnow, designer of the new Weltevree Bended Series and the popular Tablebench. To get to know him better, we asked him a few questions about his work, his experiences in the design world and the story behind the latest Bended series.
Hi Jaïr! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? What moves you in your day to day life?
The usual stuff, I guess! My addictions are, not in any particular order, music (all day), reading (all sorts), caffeine (Turkish coffee), beer (IPA) and football (Liverpool!). I try not to take myself too seriously, which is not very difficult. It takes half a life to realize that you’re not so clever, unique or original as you thought you were earlier in life. You’re almost like everyone else.
Which of your designs would you say is defining for you?
Probably my flip chair, which has been in the making for so long it almost became a hobby! It is a dining chair that converts into an easy chair, made out of a single material. It has simplicity that looks obvious, but actually took a long time to distill. What is the most important aspect of a design to you? There is not only one, there are many aspects. But at the core, a design needs a reason to exist, an alibi. It should come from a real need. If we are still sitting on chairs next to tables and desks, and not on the floor or whatever, that is a good enough reason to keep designing tables and chairs. The big difference today is, knowing what we know about climate change, that we have to think and produce in a different way than before.
At Weltevree, we value time spent outdoors above everything else. What is your favorite thing to do outdoors?
I am not much of an adventurer anymore. I traveled a lot in my twenties, from backpacking to trekking. I still like hiking, but without suffering too much. I now make day trips, so there is no carrying of heavy gear involved.
Do you have a Weltevree moment?
My daily Weltevree moment is at home, in a hammock, suspended from a 400 year old roof, staring out of the window at the elm tree in front.
How did the Weltevree Bended Series come into existence?
My work is normally driven by a fascination for a material or a technique. In recent years it has also been sheet metal bending. The fun part is that you create a sort of puzzle on the screen, and then sometimes the parts even fit in reality! If you choose to make outdoor furniture out of metal, you are on a very beaten track, as lots of it already exists. It is a saturated territory. This makes it a double challenge: How do you find a fresh angle and not just re-style existing systems? And how do you make friendly and inviting items out of a material that is perceived as cold and sharp? In the case of the Bended Series, the new angle was literally an angle: forty-five degrees…
[Weltevree: the aluminum Bended Series is bended at a forty-five-degree angle, which hides all the sharp edges and screw connections, giving it a soft look]
As you said, the Bended Series is made from aluminum, a material which can be recycled. Do you find durability and recycling important in your products?
To ignore climate change and the ecological crisis we experience nowadays is uncivilized, not to say almost barbaric. To do so as a designer, to me is not really an option anymore. However, things are complex, and it is not always clear what the right thing is to do. Recycling is only a temporary stage we are in and economically it does not really pay off. It makes us feel good however, and it raises awareness to the subject, which is important. Most collected materials are down cycled. For example, recycled paper is not really white, glass cannot be clear glass again. Aluminum is a different case. It is one of the few materials in the recycling stream that more than pays for the cost of its collection. Did you know that 75 percent of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today? And even more important, it retains its mechanical properties indefinitely.
How do you experience these themes like durability in the (design) world? Is there anything you think could or should be improved in the future?
Real change can only happen on a political level, but the revolution always starts in your back yard. Ultimately, we want to create things that do not need clumsy logistic systems. Something which can probably be achieved by developing new materials. For now, using common sense is a good start I guess. Work with “good” materials, either biodegradable ones or ones that can be re-used, and avoid toxic ones. Make products that can be (dis)assembled easily and think twice before making something. Try to make things that will last, avoid repeating old mistakes and try to fail better.
Our final question to you: what should people remember you for?
I have no such aspirations, to be remembered… But I do hope my products will outlive their creator.
For more information on Jaïr Straschnow’s work, check out his website here.