Johannes Scherr runs a design firm in Vienna and works for international companies in the areas of transportation, furniture, product and packaging design. The search for durability, functionality, and an overarching idea that is tangible in the finished product is what Johannes Scherr focuses on. The certified industrial designer established his sophisticated expertise in product development at Philips Design. Scherr’s many design awards from prestigious institutions testify to the reflective Viennese's professionalism. His innovative creativity is particularly highlighted in his creative search for new materials and production methods.
After completing his studies in Industrial Design at the University of Applied Sciences in Graz, Austria in 2000, Scherr worked on designs for companies such as Philips Design Eindhoven, Almdudler, Rauch fruit juices and Red Bull. He has been working with Bene for several years (seating furniture, caddies and room partitioning systems). From 2002 to 2008, he and Stephan Breier ran the studio "Element Design" in Vienna. In autumn 2008, he founded his own office, "Johannes Scherr Design" which, in addition to its own projects, also leads the design department at the Benelli Group in Pesaro, Italy. At the same time, Scherr is an instructor at the University for Art and Industrial Design in Linz, Austria, as well as the University of Applied Sciences in Salzburg in Kuchl, and he delivers guest lectures on industrial design at the University of Applied Sciences for Industrial Design in Graz and the New Design University in St.Pölten.
Mr Scherr, you commute all the time between two worlds: Italy and Austria. Is life and work really as different in these two countries as the clichés would have us believe? More pleasure there, more "must-do’s" here?
No, absolutely not for me. I work for Benelli, an Austrian-run firm in Pesaro, Italy. Pesaro is a nice place south of Rimini. The corporate culture has Austrian influences. Nevertheless, we cultivate good Italian traditions such as an "aperitivo" after work in the evenings. Or one of us cooks a midday meal in the office. That really surprised me when I first started working here because I had never seen it before. Or someone brings homemade cake.
As they say, eating together brings different people to the table – there’s a lot to that. In a team, it strengthens the feeling that everyone can pull in the same direction in difficult situations.
Which project is pressing right now?
We are currently developing a "Jet Ski", a very fast water motor bike. Placing a high demand on the design, we are working on a completely redevelopment. All in all, the goal is to give the Jet Ski a completely new identity. Previously, the image was "cute", yet now the Jet Ski should visually convey what it can do: it’s an extremely sporty vehicle, comparable to a motorcycle. So we’re borrowing formal codes from the motorcycle industry. This "recoding" is a challenge that we’re apparently meeting. A journalist recently wrote of a "new era of jet skis".
Do you have anything like a "main workplace"?
I am on the road quite often and like changing workplaces: in the train or airplane as well. In principle, though, my main workplace is in the "office" – there’s a workbench there that, depending on the stage of the project, is full of stuff, full of ideas, and used in different ways. Another main workplace is the workshop.
What does the office mean for you as a place?
The office enables focus. Work here has a different quality than it does when you are underway. Ideas can come to you while you’re on the move, but they mature in the office. It’s important to me that the office infrastructure is good enough to make work effective: access to the Internet, literature, as well as relaxation. A good cup of coffee.
What I don’t like about offices is when the basics don’t work: Internet, printer, ... An office should be comfortable, but it is and should remain a pragmatic place.
Do you think that your office says something about you?
Yes. My office shows my attitude toward work: open, not sealed off. Functional, changeable. No ornaments, more of a neutral basis. The main characters are the people who work in the space. And the charts and pictures of ongoing projects: At the moment we are also working on product graphics in addition to the models.
There are two main components that are really important to me in my office infrastructure: the large bookshelf with magazines and books that blends into the room. And the workbench. I really like its haptic quality. You enjoy sitting there and feeling the leather surface.
Are there any places or locations where you particularly like to work?
Yes, in my own office. Unfortunately I'm not often there these days.
Are there places where you would especially like to work?
Maybe in Santorin. With a view of the caldera ; ), the volcanic crater filled with deep blue water. But probably not longer than for a holiday.
Because personal encounters, direct exchanges with colleagues and partners, as well as a direct connection to technological development, are not just necessary for specific product design and the coordination processes, you need them for inspiration too.
Does that mean that your office is a place of inspiration, of creativity?
Yes, which is why it was very important for me to look for – and find – a place for my own design studio where that’s really possible. It’s quiet here, even though I’m in Vienna's seventh district, a very lively, central and historically interesting part of the city with an inspiring creative atmosphere. This district still bears traces of the many small companies and craftsmen who used to be here. There is a tree in front of the window, and there’s space to spread out. We can make mistakes with things before we get to the right result. We can hammer and drill away here – sometimes curse a bit – without worrying about disturbing the neighbours. And we can all brainstorm our projects together.
What is the most important object in your office for you?
My laptop. It is the little box where all of my important, current information is stored. And I always have it with me.
What's the most personal object in your office?
My sketchbook. This is where I write down all of my ideas. Day after day.
What is your most important tool for your work?
My Bic pen. Always on hand, in different designs. And if I lose it, it’s easy to get a new one.
What is your favourite activity in the context of work?
The first cup of coffee in the morning. I run through the day in my head and plan things out.
And where does the coffee taste better? In Pesaro or Vienna?
I’m going to have to take a pass on that one. Vienna is famous for Coffee, and so is Italy – although more for espresso.
Va bene! Thank you for the interview.
Products by Johannes Scherr: