You shared a really cool image of your “smooth and creamy” Marshmallow Stools with us on Instagram, which made us curious to who you are as a designer and the new projects you are currently working on!
In a few sentences, could you describe who you are, where you are from and why/how you ended up as a designer?
I am Paul Ketz, a product designer from Germany, based both in Cologne and Istanbul. I grew up in the countryside and during my childhood I wanted to become an inventor but also noticed this job seemed non-existing. At the end of my teenage years, I moved to Cologne and discovered product design as my course of study. After graduating in 2014, I moved to Istanbul in Turkey where I started my business as an independent designer. Here I also met my girlfriend who is my partner in work as well. Together we founded a workshop in Cologne last year.
What characterises you as a designer?
I create objects with an emotional value and offer play fellows instead of mere helpers. My work is playful without it being toys and my focus is the inner child; serious fun for everyday life.
What inspires you?
Beginners and virtuosos are both rich sources to learn from. Inspiration can come from anything or anyone, from an apparent stupid mistake or from silence. Creativity is anyway something unsocial, so for me it is important to not just stimulate myself but also keep empty space and time by myself.
What are you currently working on?
I am extending the Marshmallow soft foam collection with new designs which will be on display during New York Design Week and also the preparations for my showcase in Milan in April run at full steam.
Is there a specific work/project/accomplishment that you are most proud of?
A feeling like pride according to a project is something very temporary for me, it comes and goes and even returns sometimes. How we developed the soft Marshmallow stoolfrom an experiment to an actual product is a cool thing for me. The soft seat is made from foam which freely expands from underneath through the structure of the stool frame, gets shaped and cures in that way. Influenced by outer circumstances like weather conditions the outcome varies slightly and is therefore unique. Back than we were missing a flexible coating to make the stool a durable product. We tested many materials and techniques for months until we found a suitable material, but it seemed impossible to apply. Then I got a request by British fashion designer Paul Smith to furnish a store. Nobody knew that we weren’t ready back then. Driven by the commitment I built a huge machine to rotate the stools after coating them with a stubborn material whose pot life are a few minutes, but which turns out great – Analog high-tech! Long struggle short, I love the result and it’s candy like appearance. I have seen kids licking the stools as they trusted their eyes several times.
What is the most remarkable thing you've ever designed/made?
Probably a public space project Pfandring® (deposit ring) in Germany is at least the most polarising thing I have designed. It’s a add on for public trash bins to upgrade them with an extra recycling feature. In Germany you have to pay a deposit on almost every container you can drink from and its value is up to 25 Cent. Especially in bigger cities many people drink on the street, especially on weekends but are too lazy to carry the empty bottle or can to a supermarket to get its cash refund back. Instead of throwing their empty containers to the trash, they can put them to my Pfandring. Other people collect these bottles to make an extra money and keep the resources in the recycling cycle. Besides the social aspect it is simply reasonable to separate trash and recyclable material. More than 50 cities in Germany applied my product.
Is there something specific you would really like to achieve?
I want to continue.
Okay, so if you could pick anyone in the world (a designer, politician, artist, scientist or anyone else), who would you like to collaborate with and why?
I do not have a wish list of people I would love to collaborate with, but I think my glossy black Marshmallow stools would make great in a Gucci display window. And I always wanted to design an ice-cream cake with Häagen Dazs. There are many great makers and beings out there but the unexpected is what attracts me the most. So, I am always interested in crossing paths or collaborate with people I did not expect to meet.
To conclude, is there any news you would like to share with the DDW-community reading this?
Thank you for offering me this platform, I feel a really positive connection to Dutch Design Week and everything around, as my first appearance in 2016 opened me the first door to the international design world. I wish positive energy to everyone!