The Globetrotting Designer That Takes on Challenges of All Scales

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By Michael Dumiak and Dwell
Size doesn't intimidate this ambitious designer.

From her studio in Neukölln, Berlin, Joa Herrenknecht is at ease with the nomadic qualities of her life. Born in Saskatoon, Canada, she was raised by a Colombian mother and a German father, grew up near the Black Forest in southwest Germany, and went on to study in Sydney, Australia. With constant movement comes perspective: "What you surround yourself with can change the way you feel," she says. 

The Globetrotting Designer That Takes on Challenges of All Scales - Photo 1 of 5 - A private residence Joa Herrenknecht designed for a client in Berlin.

A private residence Joa Herrenknecht designed for a client in Berlin.

The Globetrotting Designer That Takes on Challenges of All Scales - Photo 2 of 5 -
The Globetrotting Designer That Takes on Challenges of All Scales - Photo 3 of 5 - The dining area of the Berlin residence. 

The dining area of the Berlin residence. 

 After cutting her teeth as an intern in the studios of Patricia Urquiola and Luigi Colani, Herrenknecht, 35, began her own studio in 2002. An interior architect as well as a product designer who has created furniture, mirrors, lamps, carpets, and porcelain, she is intent on mastering a variety of materials. She carries a distinct visual vocabulary, from playful (as with a waffle-patterned carpet), to minimal (as with her porcelain and concrete lamp bases, vases and candleholders). "Things are fusing," she says, of her multidisciplinary approach. "You can make a mirror, or you can make a room beautiful." Her first interior projects show a consistent vision, as Herrenknecht likes working closely with individual clients. "Sometimes it’s nice to just place things in a room," she says. "With products you don’t have any control. They are like living little things, creatures, that you send off to go explore the world."  

The Globetrotting Designer That Takes on Challenges of All Scales - Photo 4 of 5 - The bedroom of a private residence by Herrenknecht in Zurich.   

The bedroom of a private residence by Herrenknecht in Zurich.   


The Globetrotting Designer That Takes on Challenges of All Scales - Photo 5 of 5 - The two levels of the apartment designed by Herrenknecht in Zurich. 

The two levels of the apartment designed by Herrenknecht in Zurich.