Interview with Martin Hirth


Interview with German designer Martin Hirth.

Hello Martin, how are you?

Hi Tiffany, thanks for asking. I’m fine, just a bit busy because the IMM COLOGNE furniture fair starts now.

That means many meetings, a look at new launched products, checking out the new things and already new ideas, which have to be transformed into products for the next fairs.

Can you introduce yourself?

Of course. I’m Martin Hirth, born in the Black Forest and now working and living with my family in Offenbach, close to Frankfurt in the middle of Germany.

I moved to Offenbach in 2007 to study at the University of Art and Design. Now I’m an independent product designer working for local and international brands, mainly in the furniture and interior accessories sector.

Can you explain to us one of your projects?

Yes, I’ll gladly explain my ARCH CHAIR I designed last year for the new German brand FAVIUS. It’s a very comfortable lounge chair and it works without any upholstery. Only one piece of very thick leather is hanging in between a steel structure. The armchair combines a classical shape of seat, with a completely rethought frame underneath. The challenge was to let enough space under the seat and guarantee the comfort when seating on the leather surface and at the same time to manage that the steel structure is statically realisable. This structure with its arched steel parts is also the eponym of the armchair. Now it is a filigree but really stable framework and the comfort is completely and highly given. Further I’ve only worked with geometric basic forms for the still existing steel frame. The result is a purist chair and very welcoming at the same time.

What are your biggest influences in design? Is sustainability your main influence?

Yes, sustainability is directly and indirectly my main influence. Because I try to design a product in a timeless way, without any big fashionable trends. So the product can exist a longer term in the market and also in our homes.

It will be sustainable in a visual way and it will be also the opposite of a throwaway product. For such a product you have also to take care of the manufacturing methods and materials in use.

There are a lot materials getting more beautiful while ageing. For example wood or leather with traces of usage are really nice. Unnatural or non-valuable materials will break more quickly or the traces of usage will look not that good.

What is the major challenge while designing and creating a sustainable product?

To simplify the product, to make the product timeless and visually durable.

Do you have a favorite material to work with?

Not really a single material. In general natural materials at least. I love wood, leather, textiles, metal or natural stone just as well as glass and ceramics.

It depends on the processing and the workmanship, how a material looks and feels like.

Currently I’m super interested in steam bending wood. An old technique I used for the backrest of my FRIDAY dining chair designed for FEST AMSTERDAM.

So as we’re talking about a favorite material, at least for the moment: Steam bended wood

Tiffany Bähler


©Martin Hirth