Collection by Aaron Britt

Talking Swiss Design in LA


I'll be down in Los Angeles tomorrow, January 27th at 6:00 PM, to moderate a discussion on Swiss design at the A+D Museum. The free talk kicks off an exhibition highliting the winners of the biannual Swiss Design Awards. The tour of these 2009 award-winning objects is coming to a close, with two final stops in LA and San Francisco. I'll be joined onstage by Heidi Wegener director of the Swiss Design Awards, prize winner Sandra Kaufmann a designer with Strada del Sole, and prize winner Colin Schaelli of Design Bureau Colin Schaelli to talk about the awards, the direction of Swiss design, and how a tiny country is making a bit global impact. Here's a chat Heidi and I had the other day to whet your appetite. Hope to see you there!

So often when we think of Swiss design things like typography or horology come to mind, but the Swiss Design Prize reaches into so many creative fields. Do you see some kind of narrative of Swiss design emerging? A storyline of what the Swiss do?If we talk about Switzerland as a brand, I think that our small country has the advantage of standing for a few things which are highly valued by the market. Such as our reliable clocks of course, energy-efficient turbines and hydropower stations, top-quaConsidering the prize can be awarded to non-Swiss designers working for Swiss companies, to what extent is this a global prize as opposed to a national one? It certainly seems to have a scope that extends beyond just Switzerland.Our price is always awarded to a product (not to a designer in general) and at least one of the individuals significantly involved in the work submitted must be of Swiss nationality or work in Switzerland. So in this respect it is not a global prize, neveThe prize ranges from fashion to industrial design to electronics, but no architecture? Why leave it out?Usually one talks about design and architecture. So architecture is never understood as a category of design. It is an independent field. At the moment we are not prepared to give a serious prize to architecture.To what extent do you see the Swiss Design Prize as a tool to reward good design, and to what extent do you see it as a tool to push Swiss Design forward?Both aspects are equally important. When can we expect to learn the 2011 winners?The prize ceremony will be on November 4th this year and we are planning to go on our next tour around the world in January 2012.

Heidi Wegener is the director of the Swiss Design Awards.