Green Talks with Jan Klingler

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Industrial designer Jan Klingler is another creative mind of our #GreenTalks series. MiND had the chance to meet Stockholm-based German designer, Jan, who took part in the Greenhouse Project at the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair of 2019.

With “Bacteria: In a New Light” collection, Jan challenges us to see a new connection between the object and the user by creating a visible link through bacteria, shining a light on the very thing we thought should stay hidden and putting it on display.

"We all consist of 10 times more bacteria than human cells."

Jan Klingler. Photo by Piotr Skrzycki.

Tell us about your background.

I am an industrial designer from Germany who currently resides in Stockholm, Sweden. In 2015, I graduated with a BFA in Industrial Design from the Faculty of Design in Hildesheim, Germany. In 2018, I received my master’s degree in Individual Study/Industrial Design at Konstfack University in Stockholm, Sweden.

Bacteria lamp. Photo by Sandy Haggart.

What does Greenhouse Project at Stockholm Design Week mean to you?

The Greenhouse at the furniture fair is always one of my favorite places. It is never static as its participants are changing every year. It is a hub of creativity, as it does not necessarily have the constraint of being instantly marketable. It shows directions of where design is headed and gives the exhibitors instant feedback on how their work is appreciated by the industry and general public.

Candida Tropicalis + Candida Dubliniensis. Photo by Sandy Haggart.

Can you describe the design process behind the work you displayed at Greenhouse?

The design process of my work exhibited at the Greenhouse this year is one of the results of a search for purpose and meaning in my creative work. I had an amazing time during my bachelor studies and had no doubt that I was doing what I loved. But at the same time, I was very conflicted in creating solely based on my personal pleasure to design. Does the world really need yet another industrial designer?

It was then that I made the decision to give myself the opportunity to actively look for my personal creative purpose during a master’s program. My research question was how to create relationships between my creations and their new owners. My starting point was to look at my own personal belongings first. Having moved across borders 5 times during the time of my studies, they had been reduced to an all-time minimum. Next, I looked to the core necessities of things like clothing. There were also quite a few oddities. For example, a wooden chess set that had no apparent purpose, as I did not play chess and did not have a strong urge to learn it. Or an aftershave that I was not able to use as it made my skin itch in an allergic reaction. Yet I chose to take these things with me wherever I went. But why?

It is the story behind these objects that made them so important to me. Both objects were inherited and carried memories of very special people who are no longer with me. When I looked at the chess set, I thought of my great-grandmother, a strong opinionated woman with a big heart. When I smelled the aftershave, I immediately had flashbacks to happy moments with my grandfather during my childhood.


Bacteria lamps exhibition. Photo by Sandy Haggart.

The work presented at the Greenhouse is the result of my research on how to give new objects the opportunity to be vessels of past memories and a deeper relationship with their owner. We all consist of 10 times more bacteria than human cells. Every living being and place has its own unique and personal microbiological fingerprint. In a crossover between science, art, and industrial design, I created the bacteria lamp, which uses this fact to create stand out conversational pieces.

Samples are taken from people, places or things that hold a position of importance, and are grown into a unique piece in the form of commissioned work. May it be the location of a first date, a personal souvenir from a memorable journey, or the reminder of loved one far away, the possibilities are as individual as each one of us is.

After a growth period of 24 to 48 hours, the microorganisms are fully sealed within resin to stop the growth and to preserve them for eternity. A LED light source incorporated into a custom silicone plug highlights the visual quality of the growth pattern and colors from above or below. Mouth blown in the south of Sweden, the form language of the vessel is reminiscent of classic laboratory material. Together with the silicone plug, they form a unity that makes them an atmospheric piece in anyone’s home.

Bacteria lamps. Photo by Sandy Haggart.

How do you integrate sustainability into your works?

Rather than thinking about sustainability that centers on how to improve the end process of recycling after a short lifespan, such as a product following a trend, my objective is to create objects that last for a lifetime.

Candida Krusei + Candida Glabrata. Photo by Sandy Haggart.

"What if we could enable others to see bacteria as a carrier of meaning, rather than a carrier of disease?"

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I enjoy finding design inspiration in the most unexpected places. I would describe myself as a rather extroverted person who loves to learn about many things outside my personal comfort zone – such as microbiology. I think that these interdisciplinary conversations and constant new experiences are vast sources of my creations.

Serratia + Escherichia Coli. Photo by Sandy Haggart.

What are the changes you would like to see in the design industry?

I think that design is always affected by society and vice versa. Long term usage of products is only achieved if some designers are able to give good alternatives to the societal trend of fast consumption.

By: Lisa Zanon