Neuland Industriedesign
Nomen est omen

Eva Paster and Michael Geldmacher
Eva Paster and Michael Geldmacher | Photo (detail): Phil Soheili

Eva Paster and Michael Geldmacher, alias Neuland Industriedesign, lend a new look even to furniture that would otherwise be consigned to obscurity. Contemporary, ingenious and truly surprising. As with their “Random” bookcase, whose rhythmic disquiet pleased director Pedro Almodóvar so much that he immortalised it in his film “Broken Embraces” with Penelope Cruz. And by the way, the two-hour conversation with took place on “Elephant”, the new (comfortable!) chair by these Munich designers.

Your theme is furniture like bookcases and wardrobes that are generally looked down on as boring; in spite of this, you have been fantastically successful with exactly this kind of storage furniture. How so?

Neuland Industriedesign, Hüttenbett by Magazine Neuland Industriedesign, Hüttenbett by Magazine | © Paster: The greatest potential is often hidden in the most unattractive design themes. Even back when I was in school, my mother always said to me: for your German essay, always pick the theme that guaranteed nobody else will …

Have you reinvented the bookcase with “Random”?

Geldmacher: Reinvented – those are big words. But one can say that we did in fact trigger a development in design with Random, which we designed in 2005/2006 for MDF Italia. It is a bookcase that is being copied over and over again even today.

Does one find one’s favourite book again, in spite of Random’s rhythmic disquiet?

Paster: Easily – but of course not in the sense of a classical library from A to Z …

Neuland Industriedesign, K1 Neuland Industriedesign, K1 | © Nils Holger Moormann Geldmacher: We did a lot of intensive conceptual work on the book theme. After all, it’s not the bookcase that communicates for its own sake – the books are what is being highlighted. There are one’s favourite books, embarrassing books, large and small, thick and thin books. Each book has a totally individual meaning for its owner. Until now, books were set up in rows like soldiers in a line. The point was to get them cleared out of the way, not to make a space for them that fit their individual meaning. Random does this with its different shelves.

You now design for both German and Italian manufacturers. Are there differences between them?

Paster: Big ones. But I wouldn’t draw a boundary line between Germany and Italy, but rather keep to the “Tropic of Veal Sausage” and count Nils Holger Moorman among the Italians, for instance. The approach to things is totally different in the south. In the south, people are somewhat more relaxed in terms of product development, more emotional.
Geldmacher: Unfortunately, there are by no means so many furniture manufacturers left in Germany that one could say that there is a genuine north-south divide. But a company like Interlübke, with whom we developed the wardrobe Reef, is extremely quality-conscious. When in doubt, the Italians give priority to aesthetics.

  • Neuland Industriedesign, Elephant by Kristalina (2010) ©
    Neuland Industriedesign, Elephant by Kristalina (2010)
  • Neuland Industriedesign, Random Cabinet by MDF Italia ©
    Neuland Industriedesign, Random Cabinet by MDF Italia
  • Neuland Industriedesign, Reef by Interluebke ©
    Neuland Industriedesign, Reef by Interluebke
  • Neuland Industriedesign, Reef by Interluebke ©
    Neuland Industriedesign, Reef by Interluebke
  • Neuland Industriedesign, Random Box & Cabinet by MDF Italia ©
    Neuland Industriedesign, Random Box & Cabinet by MDF Italia
“Reef” is a cabinet system with a relief-like surface, developed from cubes with different dimensions. Magnificent! Honestly now: where do you yourselves keep your clothes?

Paster: In an old art-nouveau wardrobe I found on the street.
Geldmacher: And I keep mine in an antique wardrobe I inherited. Neither of us could afford Reef! (both laugh). No, seriously. When I finally find a larger flat, I will certainly have room for Schrank K1 (cabinet) that we designed for Nils Holger Moormann. I would rather use Reef in the living area.

Neuland Industriedesign, K1 frontal Neuland Industriedesign, K1 frontal | © Nils Holger Moormann I infer from your answer that you are a duo only in professional terms, and not a couple privately as well?

(Both laugh) Paster: We even were a couple at one time. But that was ten years ago. That was the only time when things didn’t function all that well between us.

Functioning well – how does one go about designing as a duo?

Geldmacher: With us it’s differs from one project to another. Sometimes one of us takes care of his or her own project independently, sometimes we work parallel with each other on one project. But there’s always an unspoken understanding between us that has arisen through the years. It functions well when we say to each other, “You take it from here – I need fresh input from you.”

Then you also share a design philosophy?

Geldmacher: What distinguishes our work from that of others is its conceptual depth and the closeness of the product to the conception. At the start, we always have a thought, some particular consideration from which – depending on the customer – the most different designs can then emerge. We see ourselves as service providers – we’re not out for personal fulfilment here. Good design doesn’t have to be commercial no matter what, but it must always be saleable.

When you are designing, do you now and then feel something like a feminine and masculine principle?

© Neuland Industriedesign © Neuland Industriedesign Paster: Not consciously …
Geldmacher: But naturally, there is still a masculine and feminine aesthetic, nonetheless...
Paster: Feminine design differs above all in that it concentrates on detail and on altering the details. Details that are also optically present and not just functional. Women approach design more playfully and in a more relaxed way.
Geldmacher: I’d say that Eva’s approach has become somewhat more masculine in the course of our work together, and mine somewhat more feminine, and that we’re now meeting up somewhere in the middle.

Last question: When is a design good?

Geldmacher: Put drily, if it sells. But there are moments when one is sitting there, stewing around with a design for ages, and suddenly, it all gets untangled. One knows one has now taken a great step forward. It’s a very emotional thing.
Paster: Exactly. One gets goose-bumps and a kind or great, wide-open feeling, as if one has just drunk a glass of wine.