Henry Baumann is an artist working on a series of objects made out of resin. First, focusing on a stool and now expanding into benches and side tables. He has worked at KAOS for 6 years and is always around working in his studio, playing table tennis or sitting by the water. Baumann has a Bachelor’s degree in Product Design from the Akademie Beeldende Kunsten Maastricht, the Netherlands and won his first Recycling Design Award in 2012.

How did you get into design?

I had a love for art from a very young age. I always loved to paint and draw, but when I was young I didn’t know all these creative jobs existed. When I heard about product design I knew I wanted to do it. I studied in Maastricht, it was a very experimental study which was perfect for me and I ended up in a nice place between art and design.

You started working mostly with reused materials, how did you transition to resin?

The project I did for my final degree was a recycling piece made from strawberry crates which I turned into low tables. They were fun to make, received a lot of attention and even won a prize. It’s so interesting that by experimenting you can reach something completely new. It seems to me that with enough time and feedback, you can make something exciting out of any material. The recycling idea wasn’t really about saving the world, the world is not suffering from too many strawberry boxes, but they’re free and already there. My idea was to do the same with glass and use the concept of a stool as a starting point. There is a lot of glass in KAOS so I see it daily, it’s also a valuable material, which is why I was interested in working with it. But along the way a friend and I started experimenting with resin, a material with many possibilities. It took two years of experimenting before the first good prototype arrived last autumn, in the meantime a lot of things changed. In my experience, there are a lot of unexpected things that happen during the process. When something doesn’t work, you try to find a solution or discover cool surprises. I don’t focus on producing a functional object, it’s more about the shape and the production process. For the stool I made, I had a simple framework in mind: something solid that’s at a certain height. I work with different techniques and arrive at a functional object naturally. I was focussing on a stool and ended up with one, but if something else had happened on the way there, I would’ve also been happy.

These stools are made out of individual ‘eggs’, how did you come to the shapes?

I made this huge ‘double croissant’ a while ago (a wooden cable drum cut into a shape that resembles a croissant). There was a party at KAOS so I was trying to find a way to seal it so people wouldn’t sit in it. Someone suggested making half a sphere out of resin to cover up the holes. The resin sphere eventually turned into these oval shapes you see in the stools. It’s funny how conversations with people at KAOS influence shapes. They give me a lot of new ideas. When I get an idea I try it right away, it’s a lot of trial and error.

What are you working on now?

I’m taking the stool design further and making a bench, lamps, and a little shelf. Many of my design friends also start from a stool, it’s an easy shape to scale up to make a bench or table.

How did you arrive at KAOS?

I moved to Berlin 7 years ago and got a commission to make two ‘croissants’ for a hotel so I looked for a coworking space. I saw an advertisement for KAOS on Kleinanzeigen and when I visited I noticed a friend’s end exam hanging in the hall. I immediately thought ‘Oh my friend is here!’ and decided to rent a space in the hall. I got my own room because my work was quite noisy. Over the years this evolved into a bigger studio and I’ve been here ever since.

How has working at KAOS influenced your work? 

I benefit a lot from technical people like Tinka and Marvin, they teach me about 3D printing and electronics. When I have wood or metal-related questions there are plenty of people with expertise here. Vice versa, others also come to my studio to ask me questions about working with resin. I enjoy exchanging knowledge with other people. At certain points in the process, I don’t want to show the work to others, it feels vulnerable because I know it’s not perfect yet. Other times, I like to show it to everyone, everybody has a different view and gives input, and then you just take what you think is good.

You’re here all the time.

I enjoy being here. People tell me all the time ‘Ooh you’re so fleißig (hardworking)’ but it doesn’t feel like it because I enjoy my work. I’m also not working all the time, there are times when the resin is drying and I sit down to think about stuff… After being here for 6 years all my friends are here. When I look back at my life I had bad and good times and now is a good time. But it will also change again, so I just try to enjoy it.

Take a look at Henri’s work over at:

Instagram: @henry_baumann



Photos © Linda Hanses