Behind the Design
Named for its playful honeycomb patterning, Hive is a hexagonal, tile-based wall system that features three distinctive patterns made from v-grooves that are cut into the felt and acoustic substrate revealing the substrate below.
Designed by German furniture designer and interior architect, Bernd Benninghoff, Hive emerged after Bernd discovered the possibility of using digitally-driven machines to v-cut through materials like felt and acoustic substrate. For the last two years, Bernd has experimented with the process and created three distinct and playful patterns that have formed the Hive collection. We sat down with Bernd to chat about the process and inspiration behind the collection.
When starting the process of designing a new product, where do you look for inspiration?
Actually, the great thing is that inspiration can come from anywhere. I try to keep my eyes and ears open, to be interested and to be curious about new things. Ideas can pop up when I least force or expect them - while I am in the theatre, in the middle of a traffic jam or on a hike through the swiss alps.
Most of my design developments start with a simple observation and a question that I ask myself and then try to answer through a product.I am fascinated by new materials and manufacturing technologies – as well as the quality of traditional craftsmanship. In my projects I enjoy combining these different sources – trying to transform them in a new, relevant context.
“Most of my design developments start with a simple observation and a question that I ask myself and then try to answer through a product.”
What feelings do you want Hive (and your work in general) to bring to a space?
When I started to develop acoustic products together with the German company Cabs Design in 2016, the office furniture industry in Europe had just discovered the importance of acoustics in interiors, especially in open-plan offices. Most of the acoustic solutions available looked rather technical though and didn’t create an inspiring and welcoming atmosphere. When I discovered the possibility of using digitally-driven machines to v-cut through material made of a fiber composite base covered with natural wool felt (pictured right), I immediately had a feeling that this technology could be more than just a technical solution.
I started to develop a range of patterns and graphic lines that add visual quality to acoustic products. In order to generate a very haptic 3-dimsional surface, I generated cuts in various depth and angles. The result is Hive - modules that can be expanded endlessly – in both directions (horizontally and vertically) to form surfaces that create a warm and sound-reducing spatial atmosphere. Walls that you want to look at, that you want to touch and that you can interact with.
“Most of the acoustic solutions available looked rather technical and didn’t create an inspiring and welcoming atmosphere. When I discovered the possibility of v-cutting through material, I immediately had a feeling that this technology could be more than just a technical solution.”
What does felt bring to this work that other materials can’t/why have you chosen to work with this particular material?
In Germany felt is a material with a very long tradition – especially in the hat and shoe-making industry. So – the material was always around somehow and I grew up with felt products. In recent years, the material has gained importance for product design and interior architecture and I also like to use it in my work because it is a very honest, natural and pleasant material. In contrast to fabrics, the edges can be processed without sewing - this gives the material a very clear and architectural look. Due to different material thicknesses, felt can be used very threedimensionally and the wide range of colors now available gives me a multitude of design possibilities.
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About Bernd Benninghoff
Bernd Benninghoff works as a furniture designer and interior architect based in Mainz, Germany. Since 2000, his design studio has developed serial furniture as well as room and exhibition concepts for international clients. For Bernd, objects and spatial context are interrelated. It is important for him to use authentic materials and appropriate manufacturing processes—in search of meaningful design solutions and room experiences with an independent character.
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