Dimitri Bähler is a big fan of the “hands-on” approach. This applies to both his sources of inspiration and his preferred working method. The Swiss-designer likes to keep his hands as occupied as his mind.
“I really like (trying) to manage different projects at the same time. I think I like being busy. I prefer making than thinking or watching. I need to touch the material to go ahead. For me, it is really hard to design only by drawing or on the computer. I need to make quite a lot of tests before I am actually happy with the object and that takes a lot of time.”
The result of all this devotion and perfectionism is a collection of beautiful projects that display an array of craftsmanship and thoughtfulness. From ‘Monoliths’, a sculptural piece that exploited magnitude of the European Ceramics Workcentre’s biggest kilns, to ‘Reflets’, a range of vases that play on the properties of the reflection of objects – Bähler’s work is diverse in themes and execution, but persistently crafty.
A particular project that caught my attention was ‘Legendes Urbaines’, which took form during the designer’s visit to Africa last year. Artists’ fascination with African cultures is not a recent phenomenon. Big twentieth century names like Picasso, Matisse, van Gough and Gauguin were all at some point inspired by African artifacts – and these were the forefathers of modern art! What places Bähler’s outside of this box of mere inspirational influence is his admiration of the process.
“This one is more inspired by African culture. It is part of the culture as it was developed with Burkinabe people within their workshop. I have been working with a bronze caster, weavers and a leather worker. Plus, almost all the materials were gathered there, in markets, in the street Craft is much more present there. The objects made there are not just for consuming. It is more direct, more sincere. It is made with time, with expert hands, with love.”
With true love and talent for craftsmanship, Bähler surpasses an age of concepts achieving great heights in contemporary design.
Words / Ana Gomides