Born classics — the secret of the creation of design icons and their enduring power of fascination
Icons endure. This simple truth also applies to design. But how is iconic design created and what distinguishes it? A studio talk with the two QLOCKTWO founders Biegert & Funk.
Mr. Funk, what makes an object an icon?
Andreas Funk: Consistency — while many products have to continually reinvent themselves in order to remain relevant, iconic design classics are characterized by their consistency. You can break it down to their longevity: iconic design endures. It doesn't follow short-term trends. It never goes out of fashion. Above all, because from the beginning it is relatable to a later time.
Mr. Biegert, you are the creative heart of QLOCKTWO. Let the reader know: From your point of view as an artist, what does it take to create iconic design?
Marco Biegert: I don't have to think about it for long. In my eyes, it's courage. Iconic design comes from having the courage to think about things in a new way. The special feature of iconic objects is, after all, that they revolutionize old models. This requires the courage to be different. Whether it's in the object's form, design, function, or even the emotional benefit it gives the owner — it's about breaking away from old patterns and taking a completely new approach to an object. This is the risk you have to take as an artist or designer.
Breaking through old norms doesn't always sound easy. What challenges and mental hurdles do you encounter in such a design process?
Marco Biegert: That's true. If you choose a completely new design approach, you might be confronted with the fact that an unfinished object seems unusual or strange during the design process. And that's something that designers and artists have to come to terms with, which can be a real challenge. An object does not necessarily have to arouse enthusiasm in the broad viewers from the very beginning. It's more about simply trying things out first. Design and form language or message become so new with such a bold, unbiased approach that they do not resemble any comparable object. Not being discouraged by otherness is what matters in the artistic development process. Only in this way can iconic design emerge.
Is that what fascinates you so much about the process of creating iconic objects?
Marco Biegert: Yes! Once you have managed to throw old approaches overboard and design an unprecedented object that puts old models in the shade, a fascinating development begins. Icons are so new and different in their object characteristics that they are reflected in consistency over the long term. This is because, even decades later, they are still convincing in their aesthetics and design as well as their functional and emotional benefits, and as such they always remain a model for comparable objects, indeed for entire industries.
Take, for example, the archetype of the sports car, the PORSCHE 911. Then as now, it is a role model in terms of proportions and design. The same is true of the QLOCKTWO: with its unique surface design, the aesthetic object design, and unmistakable, completely new way of representing time, it sets new standards.
"Iconic objects are initially something new
and at the same time something that lasts in the long term."
Mr. Funk, what do you think is the enduring appeal of iconic objects?
Andreas Funk: Icons emotionalize. It is the aura of uniqueness and perfection that emanates from them. This touches and inspires people in the long term. This makes an icon the epitome of permanence. For me, this is what makes them so fascinating. Iconic objects are initially something new and at the same time something that lasts in the long term.
As friends, the two of you have developed numerous artistic objects together since your youth. Until one day when you finally held the first prototype of the design classic QLOCKTWO in your hands. What was your motivation in developing the QLOCKTWO?
Andreas Funk: With all the objects we have designed over the years, we have always been concerned with two things: first, a high aesthetic and design standard, and second, an examination of time and the perception of time. The time motif is therefore reflected in all our works of art. In developing QLOCKTWO, we were concerned with precisely these two things. In our approach, we chose a completely new approach. And that's how something lasting came into being. The QLOCKTWO allows its viewer to experience time in a completely new way. In its unique way of representing time, it decelerates. It guides the focus to the examination of the moment and the now. To be caught in the moment and to perceive it consciously, that is what it wants to bring about in people.
Marco Biegert: A design classic that pulls us away from the hectic pace of everyday life and creates a lasting awareness of the moment.
What is it that has always inspired you in the co-creation of your art objects?
Marco Biegert: For me, it is the collaboration with Andreas. I always say we complement each other like the left and right hemispheres of the brain (laughs). We simply function better together.
Andreas Funk: I see it the same way! And I think the special thing was simply that we were always on the lookout for things that could be rethought. We have always asked ourselves big questions about topics like time or the value of the moment. Our objects are the form in which this debate is expressed.
And they continue to do so today.