Gunther Kleinert is a professional product and interior designer who lives and works in Hamburg, Germany.
He traveled to Devon, England, when he was 20 to learn the art of fine furniture and cabinet making. He then returned to Hamburg to gain a degree in Industrial Design at the University of Fine Arts in 2008.
He has 10 years of intense interdisciplinary experience in designing both products and interior spaces, as well as in conceptual thinking.
Alongside designing furniture, interiors and exhibitions for companies like Rolf Benz, FC Bayern Munich and many others, he constantly is on the lookout to explore and learn other design and art related disciplines in self-initiated projects.
Gunther is also a proud member of Labsdesign Studio in Hamburg.
Could you introduce yourself and your background as a designer?
Hi, my name Gunther and I am a designer from Hamburg.
I mainly design products and interior spaces. But coming from a multi-facultied art university teaching art, design, architecture, visual communication and photography, I always try to approach projects in different ways. I have a strong interdisciplinary approach to design in general.
We’ve seen many of your beautiful pen plotter graphics on your website. Could you describe a bit about this project?
It’s actually a combination of several areas of interest that created this project.
One was my fascination with “generative design”. This is where algorithms are used to create shapes and forms. A good example is the work by the architect Zaha Hadid.
I’m also a keen guitarist and music lover. A long-term project of mine has been to use sound and music and attempt to visualise what can be heard and felt, but not seen by the eye. This resulted in some music generated patterns and graphics. I printed some of them out, on a laser printer, but I wasn’t totally satisfied with the results; I wanted to see how I could give them a more natural feel.
There is a certain beauty in drawings, and the look of a pencil and pen line on paper, which is inimitable. Or is it? I wanted to find a way to replicate this look and process. Doing it by hand is lovely, but with thousands and thousands of lines, it simply takes too long.
I researched for a while and came across an old pen plotter from the mid-80s. They were a huge invention at the time, used especially by architects who could draft their plans by machine, rather than by hand. I was lucky enough to pick one up for just 50 Euro.
So, suddenly I was able to print lines with ink and felt pens, and this project was born.
Where did you find inspiration to pursue this project?
Artists, as well as architects, have used pen plotters in the past. Manfred Mohr’s work is definitely an inspiration. I’m also very inspired by concrete art in general, minimal photography and of course, sound and music.
What general process do you undergo to produce these graphics?
Unfortunately for this project, I am no computer nerd. I can design and construct things to be made but when it comes to old hardware, etc., I’m fairly average.
Therefore, the first big challenge was to connect this 35 year old gadget to my workstation PC. With no lightning connector, it took me quite a while to figure out! But once I got it up and running, I had a couple of tests and was happy to see it ran nicely.
The abstract/concrete series was completely made on the computer, either constructing lines and shapes myself or letting algorithms processing them. Then I put them together and plotted them. I like to leave a bit of room for variance and for changing colours (which I achieve while plotting by pressing the pause button and feeding it with another colored pen), so what has been created on the computer never looks quite the same as the final artwork.
The music visualization series is a bit more complex. Firstly, I run a sound file through a code that reads and extracts certain parameters like frequency amplitude curves, beat, general dynamics etc.
Within the code I can set how these parameters are shown graphically.
After that, I convert the output so it’s printable with the plotter and set colors etc. One limitation is the plotter can only plot lines and vectors, so in order to do gradients and shadow areas I have to use other methods like “hatching” or “stippling”.
What other projects are you currently pursuing?
For the plotter project, I want to 3D print other pen holders. The original ink pens are no longer produced, so they’re limited and pretty expensive. I’ve already made holders for Stabilo pens and plan to make some for other pens, like marker pens, so I can use more colors.
I’m also working to make the musically generated patterns three dimensional.
Design-wise, I’m currently working on some new furniture designs at Labsdesign Studio. I’ve also just finished designing and constructing a stand for Rolf Benz at the upcoming Salone del Mobile in Milan, Italy. Some of the pen plotter artworks are going to be exhibited there as well, which is very exciting!
How would you describe your style and general aesthetic?
I find that quite hard to define, actually! Maybe others can say better than I can.
I am a huge fan of minimal aesthetics, although I don’t always reflect that in my work. I also like the aesthetics of clean raw materials like stone, wood and steel.
A great spatial storyteller and exhibition designer (Uwe R. Brückner) once said “form follows content”. That is something I definitely try to apply to and achieve through my work.