CONVERSATION

Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23

issue #34: (de)construction

This conversation between Marco Magalini, Editor-in-chief of Caleido, and Barbara Gollackner, of the homonymous design studio in Salzburg, explores the designer’s passion for conceptual work, intersecting different disciplines. Marco Magalini met her during Vienna Design Week 2023, on the occasion of the presentation of her collection R.I.B. – REST IN BEAUTY, nine objects that are produced from different combinations of scraps, all from the warehouses of craft companies. Welcome to Caleido, an inspirational diary, that narrates many stories: about creative people, trends, travels, objects. / Read the Editor’s letter here

Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
Ph. Kathrin Gollackner
1. Can you share a pivotal moment in your life that inspired you to pursue a career in design?

I would like to, but there hasn’t been a one-off moment, it’s been more of a steady path. I come from a family of artisans and artists, so I grew up in a wood workshop and watching my grandfather paint. I went to a textile design school and then a product design university and, if you think about it, it seems very logical that I ended up being a designer, which is somehow a symbiosis of art and craft.

Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
2. Your work often blends different design disciplines. How do you find harmony in the intersection of these fields?

I believe that harmony arises naturally because life is a combination of different disciplines. Somehow the intersection happens naturally because of all the things that interest us in life. When we have a ‘design dinner’, for example, cooking and design have very similar aspects, so it is good to ask ourselves: how can we make people happy and enthusiastic about what we do? How can we surprise them? How can we make our work functional and aesthetic? How can we deal with sustainability or waste?

Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
3. Can you describe your creative process from concept to completion? Any unusual rituals or sources of inspiration?

I always start with a cup of coffee and doodles in my sketchbook. I am not a great illustrator, but sketching and doodling gets my mind into work mode and the ideas start flowing. As for inspiration, it is a very peculiar thing: I am never sure where it comes from and that scares me a bit, but I think what inspires me the most are everyday things: the shadow on the wall, the way someone is dressed, a historical image I saw somewhere… And then, because I work mostly on commission, there is always an assignment and a brief, special needs and desires that you have to discover. And all this results in 2 or 3 design variants that I discuss with my clients and then choose the best proposal.

Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
4. How do you see the future of design evolving in the coming years?

I believe that design will have new responsibilities, first and foremost to address sustainability and ways to save our planet. It will evolve from creating shiny new objects to addressing today’s issues. That is what I hope for. This will lead people to move away from mass consumption and buy valuable, high-quality objects to keep for years.

Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
5. Design often intersects with technology. How do you embrace technological advancements in your work?

I try to keep up with the times and use whatever feels right in my work routine, such as 3D printing or even artificial intelligence software. One of the things I love most about my job is that I get to know and use different technologies within each project because of the diversity of the clients I interface with.

Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
6. The concept of “form follows function” is a design principle. How do you balance functionality and aesthetics in your projects?

First of all, ‘form follows function’ is a quote that is a little far from my way of thinking, perhaps the most misunderstood design principle. For me, functionality and aesthetics are both equally important: a beautiful but non-functional design is equally wrong compared to a perfectly functional but poorly designed object. As a designer, you have to make both aspects work.

Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
7. Can you share your thoughts on the role of design in addressing societal challenges, such as urbanization or poverty?

I think design has always had, and still has, a social responsibility and is capable of making changes, sometimes small, sometimes bigger, to the world. Just think of designers’ projects to improve the quality of public spaces, tools to filter water, affordable furniture, solar devices in non-electrified areas… I could think of thousands more. Sometimes it is just an input to make people think about certain topics, which is just as important.

Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
8. Which advice would you give to aspiring designers looking to make their mark in the industry?

I don’t feel in a position to give advice… Sometimes I feel more like I need advice myself.

Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
9. In a world increasingly focused on digital experiences, how do you see the future of physical design objects and spaces?

It may sound a bit trite, but I think the more time you spend in the digital world, the more important it becomes that your physical world is attractive and satisfying. Since there is so much digital matter circulating, the value and importance of real, physical objects, furnishings and spaces will increase.

Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
@studiobarbaragollackner
10. What is an object in your home that you would never give up? what is the memory attached to it? would you send us a photo taken by you?

One of the many objects in my house that I love very much is my dining table. My father carved the table top from an old walnut tree that I assembled with hairpin legs. Although it is a bit rustic compared to my other interiors, it has accompanied me and my family for more than 10 years. We have had many family dinners, parties and chats around that table – I would never give it up.

Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23

Diary of @studiobarbaragollackner
Follow @caleidodiary.eu on Instagram

All images are taken from the interviewee’s Instagram account, and are an integral part of the interview’s editorial storytelling. See the interviewee’s Instagram account for full credits.

other contents of this issue:
Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23
Caleido interviews Barbara Gollackner during VDW23

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