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Behind The Scenes

How are flowers transformed into works of art? Fantasies in liquid glass moulded to create a designer vase? Feldspar, kaolin and quartz sculpted to produce a stunning porcelain piece? Take a look behind the scenes and accompany us to our FlowerUP campaign shoot with the florist and stylist Ruby Barber. Join us for a visit to Xaver Hofmeister’s glass factory where our new “Riite” designer vase is produced. Or take a look over the shoulder of designer Sebastian Herkner as he creates an exquisite “Falda” vase …

FlowerUP Fotoshooting with Ruby Barber

FlowerUP Shooting with Ruby Barber

Making or »Riite« by Helmi Remes

Making of »Riite« by Helmi Remes

Die Entstehung von »Falda« by Sebastian Herkner

Making of »Falda« by Sebastian Herkner

Blooming Fantasy

The motto for this year's vase collection was soon decided: FlowerUP your Life! So now everyone can create their own individual ambiance with flowers.

For FlowerUP, we wanted to illustrate the different characteristics of our vases with the help of floral arrangements. We were very fortunate to work with florist and stylist Ruby Barber, a passionate flower artist who arranged some breathtaking works of art using a combination of flowers and blooms, tendrils, grasses and fruits.

 - Bulk buying at the flower market

Bulk buying at the flower market

 - Green haul: delicate vines

Green haul: delicate vines

 - arrangement for the Herkner-vases picture

arrangement for the Herkner-vases picture

 - Touch of magic: Ruby Barber at work

Touch of magic: Ruby Barber at work

 - Trim, cut, prune & arrange

Trim, cut, prune & arrange

 - Floating vines for the picture of the Ragot vases

Floating vines for the picture of the Ragot vases

 - Highly focused work until late at night

Highly focused work until late at night

Interview with Ruby Barber

Ruby Barber

 - Ruby Barber

Ruby Barber has loved flowers for as long as she can remember. Raised in a family enthusiastic about art and design, the Australian stylist has now been living in Berlin for several years. She arranged the plants, flowers and fruits for the FlowerUP-Shooting for Rosenthal.

Ruby Barber sells her floral pieces of art under the label Mary Lennox at her Am Lokdepot located showroom in Berlin. We talked to her about happiness, lifestyle and favourite vases.

Flowers are your passion. Why?

Nature is infinitely diverse. Every stem I hold in my hand is unique and every new project lets the plants and flowers shine in new splendour. Flowers keep my curiosity about life alive.

What do plants and flowers have to do with lifestyle?

Plants are deeply rooted in our culture – they symbolise the good and the beautiful. Plants and flowers have become more and more important ever since social values have been associated with a green lifestyle.

Furniture, art – flowers? What part do plants play in interior design?

Nature for me is an essential element of interior design. Lots of furniture and accessories are inspired by natural shapes and colours – so why not go back to the source? The aesthetic language of plants is very powerful with positive associations for the most part. A piece of nature can even make a very rough setting seem gentle.

Do flowers change like fashion?

There are undoubtedly flowers that go in and out of fashion. But going with the seasons is always timeless.

Which flowers did you use for the Rosenthal shoot?

Rosenthal is an iconic company – it was great fun pairing selected flowers with specific vases. We looked for flowers with personality, for the unexpected – at farms and markets in Berlin, Hamburg and Aalsmeer.

As every vase is different, we wanted to pay homage to every single one with a surprise. This is why we selected unusual plants such as hanging Vanda orchids, exotic fruit, carnivorous plants and flowering herbs for the photo shoot.

Do beautiful flowers have to be expensive?

It depends on the context. Some of the most beautiful flowers I know grow wild in nature or are sold on the roadside. Flowers are often pricey in towns, but it’s worth spending a little more for beautiful flowers full of character.

Flowers are perishable. Is that melancholic or beautiful?

The life cycle of a cut flower includes both beauty and melancholy. We need to learn to appreciate the beauty of every single flower, no matter how short-lived.

Your favourite vase from Rosenthal?

I like the Fondale vase from Office for Product Design, a design studio in Hong Kong. It’s simply wonderful the way this vase frames the flowers with its round opening.

Can flowers make you happy?

Definitely! It’s even been scientifically proven that plants make you happy. Even looking at a floral painting will make you feel better.

What stays, what’s next?

I think flowers as a form of expression are here to stay.

HOW LIQUID GLASS BECOMES A VASE

For Finnish glass artist Helmi Remes, a new product begins with an idea. A dream image which transcends the demands and limitations of the material and thus creates a vision of the product. It’s often a real challenge to translate this vision into a production reality, and the novelty-vase "Riite", which Helmi Remes has designed for Rosenthal, is a case in point. Read how an idea and some liquid glass came to create a unique work of art.

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Making of Riite

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Robert Suk travels to Finland in summer and discovers Helmi Remes’ works at the Glass Museum in Riihimäki. The product development manager at Rosenthal is so ecstatic that he spontaneously hires the designer for a project. The artistic vase is called Riite and is hand-blown at Xaver Hofmeister’s glassmaking company.

“Please touch me!” Riite seems to be calling out. The vase by the Finnish glass designer Helmi Remes is in fact quite sensual, which is mainly down to its haptic quality. A soft, round body meets a roughlooking cuff made from white murrina. “I like things that have a simple design and radiate peace,” Remes responds to the question of whether any aspect of her work could be regarded as typically Finnish. Riite captures the moment in her design, allows the unexpected, plays with contrasts, expresses the quality of the material. “Small grooves on the surface of the glass create a sense of vitality. They are a part of the manufacturing process and have stories to tell.”

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Family matter

Every vase as well as the corresponding bowl Xaver Hofmeister makes is one of a kind. The craftsman comes from a family of glassmakers and is passing down the tradition to his son Sebastian. “We probably have pieces of glass in our blood,” he says, laughing. Father and son work together in a small glassworks in Gebenbach near Amberg in the Upper Palatinate in Germany. Apart from their own designs, the family business also brings high-quality designs by artists to life. Xaver and Sebastian Hofmeister combine contemporary design with traditional craftsmanship techniques.

Matters of the heart

“I want to pass on my knowledge because otherwise the centuries-old techniques will be lost,” Xaver Hofmeister says, and you can see his enthusiasm for the craft.

production pictures © Petra Kellner

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Work of Art

Before Xaver Hofmeister started his own business, he had been the head of Rosenthal’s glass studio. This is why the 58-year-old seems predestined for making creatively ambitious glass objects such as Riite. “When we got the drawings from Rosenthal, we weren’t sure whether we could actually realise the design,” he admits. Fortunately, Hofmeister likes to experiment and loves challenges. The Riite collection is so difficult to produce because it combines two different techniques. This is very rare nowadays as it is very labour intensive, the glassmaker explains.

Whereas the body of the Riite vase is blown in a wooden form, making the tiny white glass rods is particularly tricky. They are attached to the rim of the vase as a kind of ribbon. “The transitions from rod to rod have to look good and still hold their own,” Hofmeister explains the technical challenge. “Glass doesn’t forgive mistakes, but I think it’s wonderful to be able to create something that can last for centuries.” And Helmi Remes? She compares the art of glassmaking to dancing, “It’s hard physical work yet still very playful.” How true!

Interview with Helmi Remes

With her »Riite« concept, Helmi Remes has designed one of the most striking glass vases produced for Rosenthal in recent years. We talked with this young designer about her search for perfection, about her inspiration, and about why she likes to work with glass.

When did you decide to work as a glass artist?

At the beginning of my studies, I was still unsure and also quite interested in many other topics such as photography or interior design – but then I just fell in love with the material. This was also the reason why I trained as a glass-blower after my graduation.>

What fascinates you so much about glass?

Glass is so clean and pure, I love its colours, the particular transparency of the material, and how it feels both during and after processing. I am primarily concerned with emphasising the tactile qualities of each piece, and always look for a balance between perfection and imperfection.

What inspired you to combine a vase shape with so many individual glass rods?

I am a big fan of the old Venetian Merletto glass technique, where a delicate lace-work structure is built up to create a fine surface made from glass strips. The look becomes very organic, and the difficult-to-produce combination of glass rods and a rounded glass body makes this design very special.

Making of Falda

Sebastian Herkner, the shooting star of the German design scene, travels extensively to gain impressions from all over the world. One time, he will develop an enthusiasm for African craftsmanship and, another time, for Japanese everyday objects, which are required to meet the country’s stringent requirements for craftsmanship and aesthetics. He attends trade fairs, sets up showrooms and always devotes time to visiting the production facilities of renowned manufacturers to witness the craftsmanship of Italian furniture manufacturers or German glass blowers and get a detailed explanation of the roduction processes.

He is one of Rosenthal’s most sought after designers and maintains a close dialogue at all times with the Creative Centre and Production. We spent a day with the Offenbach designer of choice during production of his »Falda« vase in Selb, Germany and witnessed a blank piece being transformed into a top-class designer item.

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Fantastic Folds

Out of curiosity

It is not without reason that Sebastian Herkner likes to take a look behind the scenes. “It was during an internship at Stella McCartney in London that I learnt how important it is to observe.” His inquisitiveness and talent for discovering something special even in the most simple of things and incorporating it into his works using unusual colour combinations or material collages is what makes his designs so extraordinary – and this is reflected absolutely in the avant-garde design of his »Falda« vase. With its pleated collar, it is a must-have item for flower lovers and design fans alike. Sebastian Herkner travelled to Selb to be present during all of the production processes. The vase, which is made of unglazed biscuit porcelain, will be released in 2015 with a copper-coloured titanium coating. It will be manufactured from a single piece, which poses a very particular technical challenge – even for the most experienced of porcelain craftsmen.

Prize-winning design

At only 29 years of age, Herkner won the famous German design accolade, the “Red Dot Design Award”, for his “Bell Table”. This was followed in quick succession by the “German Design Award 2011”, the “Wallpaper Design Award” and, recently, the “Interior Innovation Award” for the innovative »Collana« vase series, in which he masterfully set too much store by his numerous awards. Quite the opposite – on his website he simply lists the awards and nominations in chronological order without any further comments. Sebastian Herkner naturally took the train from Offenbach, where he has lived and worked since studying at the Offenbach University of Art and Design, to Selb in Upper Franconia, where the Rosenthal company headquarters are based. He attaches just as much importance to sustainability – not simply in his many travels, of course – as he does to environmental friendliness and product durability. “My works are intended to radiate a certain timeless quality. I like it when things still make an impression with their design even after many years.” So what does he value about Rosenthal? “In my opinion, it is among the pioneering German companies in the field of porcelain and table culture. For many decades, Rosenthal has bridged the gap between hand-crafted factory production and industrial manufacturing.”

Inspiration from the Black Forest

The young designer tracks the processes in the production hall with a focused gaze, observing as the first unglazed vases are removed from the plaster mould, and explains how time-consuming it is to design them let alone manufacture them.

The tightly folded, gold-coloured aluminium wrap around the bottleneck of the iconic Black Forest beer “Tannenzäpfle” inspired him to design a vase with a bulbous body that opens out dramatically towards the top in the shape of a chalice and with radiant copper detailing that forms the perfect contrast against the white biscuit porcelain.

From paper to plaster models

Herkner first built models out of paper, then out of polystyrene and aluminium foil, and later visualised them using 3D computer graphics. Following this, the first prototype was produced using a 3D printer at the Rosenthal Creative Centre. “The asymmetrical folds meant that it kept toppling over at first. We had to move forward slowly and finetune the design,” admits the designer openly. “It is a long process from the first stroke of the pencil to delivery.” He notes with regret that “most people aren’t aware how much hard labour and teamwork is involved”.

It was an accomplished model builder with decades of experience who produced Herkner’s plaster model. Since porcelain shrinks by approximately 12.5% during firing, it has to be made larger to compensate. “There are employees here who have already been working for Rosenthal for 33 years. I am only twelve months older than that. I value their specialist expertise and intuition for white gold very highly.” The next step is to make synthetic resin models before casting negative plaster moulds. The porcelain paste only comes in at this stage. After approximately 20 minutes, the multi-sectioned mould is opened up little by little, allowing the blank piece to dry.

Entering the home stretch

At the plasterwork station, skilful hands remove any irregularities. After biscuit firing at a temperature of between 850 and 950 degrees, »Falda« is brushed with blue-tinted wax below the collar and above the base. Sebastian Herkner admiringly looks over the shoulders of an employee as she works at the potter’s wheel and watches carefully as she glides her fine brush along the mould. “This insulation is necessary so that after it is carefully dipped into the glaze only the base and the inside of the vase are coated as the outside needs to remain matt,” he tells us. The last step in the process is to fire the porcelain at a temperature of around 1,400 degrees. After this, »Falda« is water-resistant and ready to go. One day after production, the designer is in the photo studio, posing in front of the camera with his wonderful creation. He picks up his work of art casually and unpretentiously, in typical Herkner style.

Flower up your life!

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