BUDDE studio introduces the Concrete Canvas® material to furniture design
This material is usually utilised for erosion control, containment and shelter applications. It is typically ten times faster to install than conventional concrete solutions because of its unique textile characteristics
BUDDE is a furniture design studio founded by architect Johannes Budde and Meike Papenfuss in Cologne, Germany. They are known for creating purposeful and carefully crafted authentic designs. In this interview, we share their story and that of the RUG’N ROLL stool project, which this year won the DesignWanted Award in the product design category.
Johannes had previously worked as an architect in Germany before establishing BUDDE, while Meike joined the studio early on to assist with marketing and business-related tasks. BUDDE made their exhibition debut at Alcova premises during Milan Design Week 2022, and they have since exhibited at Brussels Design September and London Design Festival 2022.
With us, Johannes Budde and Meike Papenfuss discuss their design journey, design philosophy, and the essential tools and methods they use in their design process. They also talk about the inspiration behind their award-winning RUG’N ROLL stool and their plans for the future of furniture design.
Let’s delve into the story of BUDDE studio and their project, which is set to be showcased at La Cattedrale (Certosa area) during the upcoming Milan Design Week (17-23 April) as part of the co-produced exhibition ‘Innovation for Living’ by DesignWanted, Designtech & Isola Design.
What is BUDDE design studio? How did your design journey begin?
“BUDDE is a furniture design studio based in Cologne, Germany, founded by architect Johannes Budde and Meike Papenfuss. We aim to enrich homes and inspire minds with our contemporary furniture collections. While Johannes Budde is the lead designer and creative mind behind BUDDE, Meike Papenfuss connects the dots between design and business.
Johannes worked as an (interior) architect in Düsseldorf, Germany, before founding BUDDE in late 2019. Moving from interior design to furniture design felt like a natural transition to him and yet, opened an entirely new field to explore. Meike joined the studio early on to support in marketing and business related areas. With a study background in Design Management as well as Innovation & Entrepreneurship, the duo complements each other well.
We celebrated our exhibition debut at the renown Alcova premises during Milan Design Week 2022, followed by exhibitions during Brussels Design September and London Design Festival 2022.”
Why BUDDE design studio, why focusing on furniture and home decor?
“I always liked to explore design in multiple facets. Starting with charcoal drawings and abstract paintings in my youth, I discovered my interest in spatial design during the early days of adulthood. The more recent transition from architecture to furniture design resulted from an intrinsic thirst for exploration.
Everything we do at BUDDE shares a common essence. We want to create authentic design with purposeful details and careful craft. This can also translate into new creative disciplines we may want to tap into in the future. BUDDE is a reflection of our journey.”
Your studio won the DesignWanted Award with RUG’N ROLL, a concrete stool that introduced the industrial material Concrete Canvas® to furniture design. How did you come up with the idea?
“Coming across this versatile and durable fabric at emergency shelters for the first time, it was clear that the material has great potential to be explored within furniture design.
Concrete Canvas® is usually utilised for erosion control, containment and shelter applications. It is typically ten times faster to install than conventional concrete solutions because of its unique textile characteristics – reminiscent of a rug. In its initial state, it is essentially “Concrete on a Roll™” which is flexible and can take any desired shape.
At first, we conducted various studies to become acquainted with the nature of the material. Instead of forcing the canvas into an envisioned shape, the material’s unique textile characteristics co-led the production process and resulted in innovative, organic forms.
Once the material gets hydrated, it stiffens within 24 hours, stays in the desired shape and becomes highly durable, waterproof and fire-resistant. Besides the robustness and longevity, Concrete Canvas® keeps its attractive textile haptic which we found especially attractive.”
How would you describe your design philosophy? What are the aspects that you focus on the most when developing new products?
“The red line of our designs is that they eliminate excess, focus on clear lines, pure forms and a reduction to the essential. However, we do not refer to reduction as a solely aesthetic point of view. By creating a minimalistic design, we strive for simplicity and pureness in the idea behind it.”
“A majority of our furniture collection has some degree of interaction with the user. Good design should not stand on a pedestal or behind glass like an art piece but should invite to be actively used. In any new design, we evaluate function, aesthetics, sustainability and whether it inspires and evokes the senses.”
From an industrial design perspective, which are your vital tools, resources, and methods for you during the design process?
“The design process is always initiated through something that inspires me. Whether it is a material, something I observe in nature or a conversation I have, anything can foster a creative thought process.
What proved to be essential for us is to build a network and exchange with other design studios, either at design weeks and exhibitions or online via social media.
When it comes to tools, we always test proportions of new designs in 3D programs such as Rhinoceros and use renderings to place objects into three-dimensional interior settings. This allows us to evaluate the potential of a new furniture piece before we invest into prototyping. Lately, we also started to explore AI tools and are excited to see the evolution and impact of it in the design industry.”
What do you believe are the main trends & future directions within furniture design and what do you think of them?
“Most prominent at this point is probably the power of artificial intelligence. Tools such as Midjourney democratize design and make it accessible to the mass, yet certainly also threatens certain job profiles. We try to stay close to upcoming trends and always assess the individual use case for us. Our small team allows us to be agile, test and eventually afford to “fail fast”.
Secondly, upcycle and recycle will stay relevant and establish more and more also at big players in the furniture market. We expect material science and innovations to play an even greater role in the future. It is clearly driven and demanded by the upcoming, eco-conscious generation.
As people’s living spaces become smaller in the cities, modular and flexible furniture are increasingly popular. For instance, our RUG’N ROLL concrete stools can be flexibly used both indoors and outdoors because the material is waterproof and highly durable.”
What is the next step for BUDDE design studio?
“You can expect exciting collaborations from us this year – with other brands, high-class fabricators and contemporary galleries. Sneak peek: We were invited to design exclusive pieces made of marble off-cuts. The collection drops very soon. Stay tuned!”