Cornelius Comanns

If someone transforms a Piaggio APE 50 tricycle into a little motorhome, he must be a pretty clever fellow. Cornelius Comanns made it! No wonder that the German designer is among the winners of Bernard-Massard’s “Golden Talents” contest. Here is an interview with the one who admitted he was not sure if he even was an artist!

How do you feed your creativity?

Creativity, whatever this might exactly be, to me is an ability which develops from an early age.

Do you need a special setting to work well?

I need peace and tranquillity to counterbalance external impulses.

Could you please describe a typical (working) day?

It might sound like a cliché, but every day is different. But I guess this is what makes being a designer interesting to me.

How do you define your style?

It’s always different depending on what the particular projects are supposed to express. Generally, material properties, surfaces, textures and colours are for me at least just as important as the shape.

Your final thesis at university was the best of your year, could you tell me more about it?

For my Bachelor’s thesis in Munich, I planned to transform a tiny Piaggio APE 50 tricycle into a fully functional motorhome for one person. The idea behind the concept was to promote slow, conscious travelling away from the main routes. This project was above all for my own interest. Therefore, I think the result is very authentic and reflects my personality.

Were you already an artist before visiting design school?

I don’t even know if I am an artist today. The old question “Is designing art?” could be a topic of discussion. However, I have always drawn a lot and created or dismantled things with my hands.

You studied and worked in Italy, Russia or England. Did your style change depending on where you were living?

I was in contact with people from all over the world. I hope that the either of them has had a good influence on me. In general, the concept of nationalities increasingly blurs, and the individuals come to the fore.

Why do design and style differ from place to place?

Design and style differ from designer to designer or from one person to another.

What are the main characteristics of a German design?

Thinking in terms of nationalities is the root of all evil.

Do you consider yourself a German designer?

I have both German and Italian nationality. But the western world is homogenised to such an extent that nationality no longer plays any role for design.

What’s your secret to finding a revolutionary design idea?

For me, it’s hard to evaluate if I have already found the secret.

Does a good idea come up immediately or is it rather a long-term process?

Unlike other designers, there’s often a strong idea that inspires me at the beginning of the process. Afterwards, this thought needs to be extracted and made concrete to others.

Do you think towns should more frequently call on designers to make their street furniture more appealing?

It’s a common misconception that only objects labelled as “design” were sketched by a product designer. The majority of the “not appealing” street furniture was probably sketched by designers.

Do you give hints so that people can understand the idea behind your art?

Ideally, my drafts are largely self-explanatory. I leave works that can only be understood with a wider conceptual context to others.

Do you want to spread a message with your art?

Not a message, but I try to address people on an emotional level. In my experience, objects achieving this are the most successful.