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Interview. Vienna-based Thomas Feichtner on His Workplace for the Creative Community

As worldwide lockdowns push people to do home-office, creative professionals working from home will appreciate the STUDIO by Bene collection by Thomas Feichtner. 

Although Austrian furniture manufacturer Bene launched its STUDIO by Bene furniture set in October 2018, the restrictions from the worldwide pandemic give us another good reason to talk about it today.

Since Bene chose designer Thomas Feichtner to create STUDIO by Bene, a collection of furniture for creative professionals who often work from home, we got in touch with him to discuss his creation.

The first thing Thomas Feichtner did was take a picture of his own desk, in his studio in Vienna and analyze it. He realized, like many of us who have benefitted from the option of working from home during lockdowns, that he was surrounded by quite a mess.

“I found out that I had tons of cables all over, a lot of transformers for different devices. So I had this idea of making desks where you can plug things more easily, in a more organized way, and also use the area under the actual desk to store objects, for example” he told ArchiExpo e-magazine

Light, uncomplicated, versatile, functional and elegant in its minimalistic style, the items belong somewhere between an office and a home—thus the name STUDIO. After all, separating professional life from the personal one is becoming more and more difficult, at least when it comes to people who work in creative areas.

The STUDIO by Bene collection includes tables, shelves, sideboards and accessories – and modular systems that can either integrate into a proper office area or be used as individual workstations.

“My partnership with Bene started before the coronavirus crisis, but it fits perfectly into the reality we are living now. Many people are working from home, and the concept of the workplace, which was always so static and monolithic, is being rethought. It will be less of a privilege to be able to work from home, at least during part of the time. And I wanted to develop items of furniture which would be more democratic, easier to use and much lighter,” he explained.

Image Credits: STUDIO by Bene. Courtesy of the Bene and Thomas Feichtner.

The Journey of Becoming a Renowned Designer

After studying industrial design at the University of Art and Design Linz, Feichtner started his career designing products for the Austrian winter sports industry, like ski and snowboard boards. To this date, Feichtner has already designed numerous products for international brands such as Swarovski, Adidas, Absolut, Laufen, Lobmeyr and Augarten, for example. 

“From my perspective today and thinking of my career so far, the most important thing to an industrial designer is to be interested in products in general rather than in only one or two categories of products. I always tell my students this and realized that since I was a child I always loved to know what was behind things, how things were made. This joy of dealing with products has followed me to this day,” he said.

Talking about students, Feichtner has been developing a consistent career as a teacher. From 2009 to 2014 he was a professor of product design at the Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design in Kiel, and since 2018 he has been a board member of designaustria, the Association for Design in Austria. On top of all that, Feichtner is also head of the Institute of Industrial Design at the FH-Joanneum in Graz. 

“I missed so many things while I was studying industrial design. So, making it better for others and contributing to the educational field in design in Austria were my only intentions when I decided to start teaching” he says. 

But the students are not the only ones who benefit from Feichtner’s activity as a professor. 

“As an industrial designer, it is very fruitful learning from a different generation. In many professions, the older you are, the more experienced you are. But in this field of design, with new technology coming around the corner every week, I would even say that quite often the new generation is more experienced than the previous one.” 

“As a teacher, I am learning every day, and getting inspired by new ways of dealing with things and looking at things. This new generation has a completely different point of view on life. Their goal is not having a Porsche 911, a big house and so on. Their status symbols are connected to sports, travelling, education… Experiences, things you can share with others. So I feel very comfortable with this generation, more comfortable than I feel with mine” he said.

Thomas Feichtner has been awarded numerous international awards, such as the German Design Award, the European Design Award, the Josef Binder Award and the Austrian State Award for Design. Items designed by him can be found in collections around the world and have been exhibited in events and venues such as the Triennale di Milano, the International Biennial of Design Saint Etienne and the MAK – Museum for Applied Arts in Vienna (which, by the way, published a book about him).