Swiss designers are known for style, creativity, and detailed execution. In February, the best of Swiss Design comes to California with the biennial Design Preis Schweiz, or Swiss Design Award exhibition. Dwell Magazine’s Aaron Britt moderates the opening panel discussion with top designers bridging the US and Europe.
Joining Britt are Wilhelm Oehl of Eight Inc., Lukas Scherrer from Shibuleru, One and Co.'s Claude Zellweger, and curator of the Design Preis Schweiz, Heidi Wegener. DJs deep-L and Blufarm test out work from Nopicnic called the Pacemaker -- a fully integrated DJ system for Tonium that's no bigger than an MP3 player. The Pacemaker won the 2009 RADO Product Design Award.
The Design Preis Schweiz competition is open to Swiss designers living in Switzerland and abroad as well as foreign designers who make their products in Switzerland. Organized by the Design Center in Langenthal, Switzerland, the awards in communications, textiles, products, furniture, fashion, and more are handed out by an international panel of judges that has included greats such as Konstantin Grcic and Jasper Morrison.
The biennial Design Preis Schweiz exhibition also features Martin Leuthold's magical Secret Garden, Pollock fabrics, and Colin Schaelli's V30 Skid, a modular furniture system for Freitag.
Aaron Britt is the senior editor at Dwell Magazine where he covers residential design, architectural history, urbanism, and travel. Britt also covers men's style in his fashion column, "The Pocket Square" in the San Francisco Chronicle. Before starting at Dwell in 2006 he served as William Safire's researcher and reporter for his "On Language" column in the New York Times Magazine. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, National Geographic, Print Magazine and on the History Channel and Animal Planet. Britt graduated from Amherst College in 2003 with a degree in English literature.
Wilhelm Oehl was born in Speyer, in the Rhinland Palatine region of Germany. Early in his career, he completed a three-year apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker at Emanuel Hook, Furniture Design, and received a Diploma in Furniture Construction from the Handwerkskammer Mannheim in 1992. He was responsible for the development and production management of the "Trapezium'" series of chairs and marketing at the trade fairs in Cologne, Frankfurt, and Milan. In 1990, Oehl was part of the design and manufacturing team of the 125th Anniversary Exhibition for BASF, the chemical conglomerate, in Ludwigshafen, Germany.
Oehl attended the Art Center (Europe) in La Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland, in 1992 and 1993 before transferring to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California and graduating in Industrial Design with honors in 1994. In 1995, Oehl joined Eight Inc. in San Francisco and became a partner in 1998. At Eight Inc., Oehl is involved in a wide range of product, retail, interior, and exhibition design projects, many of which have received international design awards and have been published in Asia, Europe, and the United States. Eight Inc. designs for some of the most successful and best loved brands in the world including Apple, Nokia, Citibank, and Virgin Atlantic Airways. Oehl taught industrial design at the San Francisco Academy of Art College and speaks on the subject at international design forums. In addition, Oehl actively supports the arts and is on the committee for Digital Art at the San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art.
After graduating from the University of Art and Design in Zurich, Lukas Scherrer deepened his understanding of design working in architecture and in the world of luxury goods at Bally. Joining Bay Area-based IDEO in 2004, he demonstrated his creative capacity by designing complex medical devices for Medtronic, consumer electronics for Western Digital, and furniture for Steelcase. He sat on the nominating committee for the current edition of the Design Preis Schweiz, and his works have won several international design awards of their own, such as the IDSA/IDEA, IF, Spark, and Best of Neocon.
In 2008, Scherrer co-founded mimijumi, a design-driven maker of goods for the modern family. Building on his success as a Senior Designer at IDEO, Scherrer launched the San Francisco-based design studio SHIBULERU in 2010. Scherrer's new company directs design for industrial production with the benefit of wide-ranging experience spanning graphic design to architectural interventions. SHIBULERU marries award-winning expertise with a passion for beauty and precision. By celebrating all the elements of the design trade, and by taking the needs of businesses as seriously as the user context, SHIBULERU creates engaging products and meaningful, lasting experiences.
Heidi Wegener, born in Zurich in 1947, has been the Curator of the Design Preis Schweiz since 2002. In 1989 she was appointed Administrative Director at Zurich's Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst [College of Art and Design, now part of the Zurich University of the Arts], a position she retained until taking up the curatorship of the Design Preis.
Before that, Wegener held executive positions in the Industry sector of the Elektrowatt Group, where she made a significant contribution to a number of innovation and development projects.
Claude Zellweger is a principal and design director at the San Francisco-based design agency, One & Co. As a creative director for HTC, he contributed to making the brand a global design powerhouse. Born in Switzerland, he sees the role of the designer as that of creating for both known and unknown needs.
Zellweger's point of view developed while working for well-known Silicon Valley firms IDEO and Pentagram Design. In 2001, he joined San Francisco's One & Co as a partner and creative director. During this time, One & Co's work in the sporting goods industry (with partners like Nike, Burton, and Nixon) received widespread recognition and it is now one of the Bay Area's dominant design forces. Today, companies such as Microsoft, Sony, Kodak, Incase, and Council are calling on Zellweger to lead the development of their brand and design. In 2008, One & Co was acquired by HTC and it remains prolific as a design consultancy.
Zellweger has received media attention and international awards, and most recently won the 40 under 40 Europe Awards. In 2010, he was nominated for the Swiss Design Awards as well as the World Technology Award (in association with TIME magazine, Fortune, and Science Magazine). He is a regular lecturer and member of design awards committees.