Isabell Gatzen, industrial designer based in Zürich.

Hello Isabell how are you?

Very good, thank you. I am getting back into studio projects after presenting my debut collection at SaloneSatellite in Milan.

Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Isabell Gatzen, I live in Zürich and founded my studio in 2010. I undertake projects for a range of clients covering furniture, home accessories, interior design and fashion.

Since 2013 the studio has focused on developing an own range of home accessories and furniture. We establish modern, luxury products using premium material for the home, office and kitchen. The design philosophy of the brand is to create future classics which have a timeless quality and made of natural materials, so that they will last a lifetime.

Where does your interest in industrial design come from?

My grandfather was a carpenter and we started early on to build things together. I was always interested in drawing and building objects and art. I knew at a very young age that I wanted to work in the creative industry. When I was 15 my best friend started studying product design. He took my to his art school and I knew right away that this is what I really want to do. To this day I can’t imagine doing anything else that makes me happy on a daily basis.

What’s the idea behind the Don’t Screw With Me shelf?

Conceptual it was important to me to create items that are easy to set up. It is actually possible to put the shelf together within 15 minutes just by knotting the aluminum frame into the marble boards.

The precision engineered frame and shelves are interlocking, each supporting the other to create one unit, eliminating the need for screws. The aluminum frame and white Parthenon marble shelf boards are interwoven and therefore support each other to be actually able to stand. The marble shelf boards become part of the frame since they take the lateral force of the frame.

Can you tell us more about the See Right Through Me mirror project?

The inspiration to the See Right Through Me mirror came from the idea to create a mirror where you would not only see your own reflection, you would also see all the other people around you. I wanted to create awareness to not only focus on oneself – kinda like an anti narcissist mirror.

The mirror is made of white Parthenon marble and a one-way mirror which plays with light to enable the viewer to see through the mirror or catch his own reflection. The mirror adds a further dimension to the exploration of contrasts and light as the user is confronted with multiple viewing possibilities in one glance, either you can see right through the mirror or catch a reflection, depending at which angle the light hits the mirror.

Why did you choose marble for your latest projects?

Material choice is an important starting point for me and this collection focuses on true materials that are either interlocked or held together through the forces of friction and gravity. In each product materials were brought together to complement and contrast the other.

Marble was chosen as a lead material in the collection as it has a rich history in furniture design and ornamentation, and the challenge was to push this traditional material into a new modern form whilst respecting its classical innate elegance. Throughout the whole collection I used white Parthenon marble from Greece which is a very strong marble and this enabled me to go very thin without using any resin or fiberglass reinforcement.

What are the key features of your design?

The collection uses simple forms such as circles, rectangles and strong lines to define its classical and clean visual language. I like it simple but playful. I believe every product will be part of a personal story and I want to encourage people to interact with our products. The products feature playful names like the Walk Over Me rug, the Hook Me Up table, the Don’t Screw With Me shelf, the Let It Slide bowl and See Right Through Me mirrors.

Is there any designer you appreciate a lot?

Wow, this list would be endless since there are so many amazing designers in the world.

Which books are on your bedside table?

A collection of poetry by Hasson Rogers called Realistically Thinking and Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren. Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic associated with Japanese tea ceremonies and based on the belief that true beauty comes from imperfection and incompletion, which is something that I have come to appreciate through my own experiences in working with ceramics.

What’s next?

I am currently working to finish the Let It Slide  bowl series for London design week and I also have been working on different lamps and glass objects. My colleague Anna Mononen and I are also working on getting our furniture and accessories brand line refined prior to launch later this year.

The last word…

Create your own opportunities. If you don’t build your dreams, someone will hire you to help build theirs.



Interview : Dennis Moya & Tiffany Bähler — 06.15

Images ©Isabell Gatzen Studio.