Manz was born in 1972 in Odsherred, Denmark, where her parents owned a ceramic workshop. Throughout her childhood, art and design were her constant companions. In 1992, she went to school at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts - The School of Design. Just a year after graduation, she opened her own design studio. Since then, she has designed numerous products ranging from audio equipment to indoor and outdoor furniture and accessories for the kitchen and living room and has worked for a plethora of renowned brands like Bang & Olufsen, Fritz Hansen, Fredericia Furniture, Nils Holger Moormann, Lightyears, Georg Jensen, Iittala, Muuto and Gloster. Her works can also be found in the permanent collections of prestigious institutions around the world including the MoMA (New York) and the Design Museum (Copenhagen).
Here, Manz speaks in an interview about her design inspiration and more:
Ms. Manz, you are well-known for your simple, timeless designs. Which design products appeal to you?
Chairs because since we spend many hours a day sitting on them so we can directly feel the quality of their design. I have eight uniquely designed chairs standing around the desk in my studio and each one has proven its timeless quality in different ways.
Do you try a different chair out every day?
No, I habitually sit on the same one most of the times. It’s a classic chair designed by Kaare Klint, the grandfather of Danish design. It’s actually not my style but I inherited it from my grandmother. I sat on it since I was a child, and I like that.
How do you go about designing a classic? What does design need to be to outlast the trends of different eras?
Timelessness is not in the control of the designer. Only time will tell which products and designs have staying power and will remain beautiful and relevant year after year. As a designer, the most you can do is treat each task with equal importance and always put in the most effort.
How do you go about doing these tasks?
My design process always starts with a roll of drawing paper, my favorite ruler, and a pen. Sometimes I assign myself a task and other times I have a 20 page brief where I ask myself the following questions: What is the personality of this product? What’s the basic idea of it? And what’s at its core? Then I start to draw.
Where do your ideas originate? How and where do you get your inspiration?
Like a sponge, I constantly absorb and filter images of the texture, finish, color, and shape of the envisioned products. And sooner or later, some of these ideas find their own ways into my designs.
You have already designed tables, speakers, lights and fabrics and have won many renowned awards for them. Luv is your first design with ceramics. What about the task appealed to you?
I like to work for companies who specialize in a given field, and Duravit is an expert in the bathroom ceramics industry. Moreover, I have a very close tie to ceramics because my parents ran a small porcelain factory in the countryside where they produced household ceramics and crafts. So I grew up among potters’ wheels and kilns and earned pocket money by helping out in the factory.
In designing Luv, is there any inspiration you took from your parents?
I spent many hours watching my father try to create the perfect curve in a plaster mold. It was important for it to be perfect because that one mold would ultimately be used to create tens and hundreds of other products. Today, like my father, I spend a lot of time trying to perfect my designs. But I also have another inspiration: see this pebble that has been polished by the tides and sand of nature into this perfectly round shape? Nature has given it this exceptional shape, and there’s also a piece of that in Luv.
It really is beautiful. Where is that pebble from?
From the Baltic coast. We have a small holiday home by the coast and whenever I walk along the beach I can’t help but collect these pebbles that have been beautifully sculpted by nature. I know a lot of other people who do the same because they cannot resist the allure of this natural beauty. And that’s precisely the feeling I wanted to convey with Luv.
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