Swiss designer, Hannes Wettstein, is renowned for easy to use and quite formal design, which has catapulted his popularity both across Europe and internationally.
Born in 1958 in Ascona, Wettstein specializes in corporate design, interiors and architecture and has had enormous success working with prestige companies such as Baleri, Belux, Cassina, Horgen, Glarus, Lamy, Molteni, Ventura and Wittmann. His innovative design technique has resulted in an array of furniture, lamps and accessories,
professional sound equipment, carpets, watches and even bicycles.
From early beginnings he gained attention with the cutting edge design of his "Metro system" for Belux in 1982; the first low-tension contact cable lighting arrangement.
"I worked as an illustrator, and had a short time in a store with furniture design during the sixties as well as organizing exhibitions", explains Wettstein. "Eventually I became interested in industrial products and designed a lamp. Lo and behold, Belux was interested"
Wettstein soon partnered with Baleri Italia to develop their staple chair, the "juliette". This intricately clever chair has an appearance akin to a sketch drawing, with the backrest structure bending forward, yet the chair seems to defy logic in that it's structure actually brings several functional elements and is surprisingly comfortable. The backrest becomes an armrest, and
the chair itself becomes a small armchair. Use of sheet steel and steel rod gave the chair ease of manufacture and clever details allowed the ultra light chair to be stacked. Furthermore, its fireproof materials met stringent standards for public supply, which made the chair extremely popular with public buildings such as libraries and conference halls.
The Juliette was followed by more inspiring designs such as the Ludwig table and the Capri armchair. The Ludwig series of dining tables became popular for the little "shells" that protrude from where the legs connect to the glass. The shells can be adapted to support a swiveling candleholder, an ice bucket holder, and a fruit tray. The extraordinary multifunctionality is complimented with 15mm crystal tabletops and the legs and shells are made of tubular chromed steel.
Of his innovation, Wettstein considers himself self-taught. "I am an autodidact. What I do today, I have not learned in a school", he says.
"I always worked on several levels simultaneously, I am a multitasking person".
During the 90's, Wettstein furthered his career designing for Cassina, Italy. His signature beds for Cassina include the Juno and the Xen designs that have several optional extras, including sliding small tables foldaway drawers. The Minta chair and The table, also Cassina, gained attention for their elegance and simplicity.
Of his style, Wettstein believes his products are not is hallmark, but rather his actual method of design that is unique. "The way of working is a style," he says.
Early on his career, Wettstein showed interest in architecture and interiors, and has since become responsible for the art direction of companies such as Brionvega. Famously, he won the interior contract for the 5 Star Grand Hyatt Hotel in Berlin. Invited to present for this landmark contract, Wettstein produced just color photocopies of some of his work, and proceeded to explain just the theory of his work.
"I introduced myself more on the basis of my work method than with examples. I showed that we do not decorate a hotel, but also in the context of architecture, wanted to meddle in it. It was about finding a synthesis", explains Wettstein.
"There was a contemporary definition of luxury to be found. I wanted art, not as a decoration, but sought from the beginning with collaboration from the artists. This way, luxury is discreetly unfolded".
Wettstein was also responsible for the Swiss Embassy in Teheran and re-design of the Fotomuseum Winterthur, winning several awards.
HIs continuous work has recently included the "Vela" chair collection for the Italian furniture manufacturer Accademia, which received the 2006 Red Dot Award.
He is, by far, revered as the most successful Swiss designer in his field and is a lecturer at the ETH of Zurich, as well as teaching at the Hochschule fur Gestaltung in Karlsuhe.