There’s something quite delectable about Swiss based product design business, Golden Biscotti. The designs are clean, practical, uncomplicated, interesting and compelling. Nicole Lehner is the brains behind the brand, who makes high quality every day products based on sustainable design principles. But for Nicole the the design process itself is not simply a means to an end. In fact it is the design process that she particularly relishes – identifying materials for their sustainability and longevity, working out how best to minimise material wastage, and collaborating closely with local creatives who then translate her vision into reality using traditional production techniques. This organic and honest approach to design is captured in the Golden Biscotti range.
Nicole Lehner is not one to follow trends. Looking through her range, it is in fact refreshing to see uncomplicated and pared down design. Her literal interpretations on some of her designs are both amusing and inciteful – drinking straws made from … well, straw of course. But delve a little deeper and it is not as simple as first thought. Straw is harvested by hand with a sickle just before it ripens, then dried and packaged. It offers food for thought too at the ecological cost of plastic straws on our environment.
Nicole is not one to seek world domination through design. All her products are made in small production runs to meet customer demand, minimise unnecessary resource use and to maintain quality in each piece produced. She shares “if the products are seen as something special and are used for as long as possible, then the goal of Golden Biscotti has been achieved”.
What influenced you to pursue design as a career?
I studied Product Design more by chance. It could have also been Photography, Interior Design or Graphics. I was very interested in shapes and materials so I guess it was a good choice. During my study I developed a strong interest in traditional manufacturing techniques.
You place importance on conscious design and using natural materials. Why is this important to you?
I spend alot of time thinking about consumer behaviour and how it effects the environment.
Everything I create considers sustainability. I try to choose materials that are durable, that can be recycled at the end of their use, and preferably produced in Switzerland. When designing products I choose simple forms which are timeless and hopefully can be used fro a long period of time.
What are the main challenges you face as a product designer?
Interviews in english (Ha!). I think the prices. Salaries are high in Switzerland but we also have a very high demand for quality. This is very good for my products. It is important for me and my business to find the right consumer who appreciates well made products.
How important is it for you to work with local artisans?
The enormous storehouse of knowledge of materials and workmanship possessed by local artisans helps me to identify the best possible end shape. I aim to design products in such a way that maximises the use of materials, minimises waste and maintains good quality. Following the design process from the initial concept to the completion, and directly communicating with local creators is very important for me.
What product are you particularly proud of designing? Why?
The wooden boxes. The pure and simple shape of the wooden box which shows the beauty of the timber and the expertise of the wood turner. It consists only of wood and thanks to the precise work of the wood turner, can be closed.
Can you share / give us a sneak peek into what you are working on at the moment?
Shhh – Planning an exhibition about weaving!