Hanne Willmann (born in 1987) has already enjoyed a rich and varied career. She worked as an industrial designer in Berlin, Barcelona, and Istanbul before returning to Berlin, where she set up her own studio. These myriad influences serve to explain Hanne’s love of experimentation with materials, which she combines in countless ways.
A great passion for small details is a hallmark of Hanne’s designs. Her style is sharp and linear, although she is also able to soften her focus where necessary. Hanne’s work has been honored with accolades such as the 2017 German Design Award. As a professor at Bauhaus Dessau and Berlin University of the Arts, she shares her ideas with the designers of tomorrow.
Designed for Freifrau Manufaktur: Nana
Hoffmann Kahleyss Design
Always functional, never cold: designs by Birgit Hoffmann (*1968) and Christoph Kahleyss (*1963) are recognisable by their elegant, yet soft and organic form. In their joint Hamburg bureau, the duo produce design after design with an expressive, individual look and a sensuous feel.
Birgit, who trained as a ceramicist before taking her degree in design, has been a part of FREIFRAU from the very beginning and is still its senior art director. Christoph, meanwhile, is a trained carpenter and industrial designer with the technical know-how and precision to make every design a reality. Both he and Birgit were greatly inspired by their long partnership with Peter Maly.
Designed for Freifrau Manufaktur: Amelie, Grace, Leya, Leyasol, Marla
After several years working in the car industry, trained toolmaker Ilja Huber (born 1983) became a mature student, taking a degree at Hamburg’s University of Fine Arts (HFBK) specialising in product design and experimental design. After graduation, in 2019, he set up his own studio and won first place in the Pure Talents Contest at that year’s imm cologne; in 2020, he was given a ‘Best of’ label in the Design Plus Award at Light + Building in Frankfurt.
In his work, Huber (now based in Berlin), shows his lasting passion for experimenting with industrial and handcraft processes, always with the overarching aim of finding the best solution for functionality and user-friendliness in each individual product. His approach is to design things which are simple, easy to understand, yet have something of a twist, an unexpectedly radical element in store – an approach recognisable in the 2023 modular Mia sofa collection he has produced for Freifrau.
Design for Freifrau Manufaktur: Mia
If there’s one thing Lucie Koldova (*1983) needs, it’s the energy of her home city, Prague. So while she moved to Paris straight after finishing her degree in product design, opening her own studio there in 2012, two years later, Prague was able to lure her back with its unique combination of verve and romance.
Lucie loves light – and loves to stage its various moods in a charismatic way. She navigates by the centuries-old traditions of glass production in Bohemia, yet with unusual proportions and lively formal contrasts, Lucie’s furniture and object designs frequently seem to push the limits of what is possible. That is what gives her work its energy.
Designed for Freifrau Manufaktur: Celine
Neuland. Paster & Geldmacher
Focussing initially on classic industrial design applications such as medical devices, toys, and cosmetic products, from 2005 on, the design-duo Eva Paster (*1971) and Michael Geldmacher (*1968) re-orientated towards furniture design – breaking ‘new ground’ (“Neuland”) as they did so.
Having garnered a Chicago Good Design Prize and the IF Product Design Award for their work, Eva and Michael have returned to their alma mater, Munich University, as lecturers. In order to give themselves the space to develop and renew, they ended their partnership in 2015.
Designed for Freifrau Manufaktur: Kya
When he was nine, he had already worked out that he wanted to become a designer. And Patrick Frey (*1973) had a helping hand inasmuch as his mother was a ceramicist and his father an architecture aficionado. With no bounds to his creativity at home, he later found himself studying design at Hannover University of Applied Sciences and Arts.
Patrick’s passion is finding the simplest solutions possible to everyday problems. Working for international manufacturers, his work has garnered him prizes and awards with striking regularity. As a professor at his alma mater, he is now passing on his love of his profession to the next generation.
Designed for Freifrau Manufaktur: Stella
Sebastian Herkner (*1981) works with the greatest respect for his materials, creating designs which don’t just connect different cultural contexts, but also contemporary forms and techniques with traditional handcraft. From his studio in Offenbach, near Frankfurt, he delivers designs for furniture and objects to companies across the world.
Sebastian’s approach is to work down to the core of the object, and it has garnered him no shortage of recognition, including the 2011 German Design Award. At the imm cologne in 2016, Sebastian was a guest of honour, and he was named Designer of the Year at the 2019 Maison & Objet in Paris.
Designed for Freifrau Manufaktur: Ona, Theia