The discourses of the past decades about a semantic turn (i.a. Klaus Krippendorf), the observations regarding interface and semiotics (i.a. Gui Bonsiepe) or the theory of the product language (i.a. Jochen Gros, Offenbacher Ansatz) are all indicators for a substantial shift in how we view and approach the design of artifacts and products. Shifting away from a merely aesthetical and/or technical focus to a design that emphasizes semiotics and therein semantics has increased the value of meaning, narratives, cultural contexts, cultural heritage and their inherent implications. In the wake of this shift the design process has changed the same.

Patina, nostalgia and cultural references in the widest sense of the words shape underlying principles on how we view objects and how the interrelation between us, the humans and them, the artifacts takes place.

Konstantin Grcic talks about a Magic Touch in objects when asked about the emotional quality of objects in an interview with the DDC (Deutscher Design Club | This Magic Touch is not obvious, but subtle on many levels; it simplifies and catalyzes the building of a human–object relationship as well as strengthening that bond; it touches us in the depth of our minds and remembers us of our entanglement with the world.

In his essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction from 1935, Walter Benjamin describes the inherent aura and authenticity of a singular piece of art in contrary to an industrially manufactured serial product. Tradition and Ritual are other terms that play a role in his thinking. His conclusions are outdated, but his work provides us with some useful tools and terms with which we can dig deeper and enrich our examinations and findings.

We are trying to get to the bottom of that mysterious Magic Touch in multiple ways, to follow its traces and to design furniture, lighting and accessories that tell stories of hidden worlds, lost places and forgotten cultures. Therefor we analyze known designs, dig into anthropological collections and investigate historical layers with boldness, lightness and verve to tell intriguing, multifaceted and colorful stories that reflect from the past into the very present.

– Prof. Matthias Ries