An Analog interview with Mischer’Traxler
Founded in 2009, Mischer’Traxler is a design studio made up of Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler. Based out of Vienna, the duo has worked on a variety of beautiful and thought-provoking projects ranging from a rug that shows the number of days a worker took to make it, to a table that hides away decorative flora whenever someone comes too close. We here at Analog were fortunate enough to get an interview with the designers as they discussed their work, design process, and how they collaborate together.
Analog: A lot of your work deals with both nature and the passage of time. What about these ideas draws you to them?
Mischer'Traxler: Maybe we are drawn to them because both nature and time are things that constantly surround us, but are not so tangible at all. Of course in nature one can touch leaves and trees but not the wind, the weather, the sunshine or a rainbow. Being designers that love to touch, hold and grasp maybe this intangibility has this appeal to us. Probably we want to understand them as well way better than we do right now. Time is such an abstract phenomenon and nature is such an incredible thought through system. There is a lot to learn from both.
A: Being a design duo, how does working so closely next to someone influence your projects? Do you both approach these proposals differently or from a similar place?
MT: Hmmmm. We know each other already for more than 10 years and since then we exchange and discuss ideas and directions for projects. Consequently we so much got used to each other’s influences that it is very hard to distinguish each individual approach – it somehow slowly became one approach. We do normally start by discussing a project's direction together and then we discuss individual thoughts on that direction until it becomes clear what we want to do.
A: With your most recent project the Ephemera Table and mirrors designed for Perrier-Jouet , it involves outside interaction from the audience. Is this something you are interested in incorporating more into your work or just where it seems applicable?
MT: We do like interaction, but it really has to be put in an appropriate project, where it makes sense. We never start a piece of work saying it has to be interactive. Normally we analyze the context in which the project is going to exist, or who actually asks for it and why. Then we define which atmosphere we want to create or which discussion we want to trigger and then we see how the direction evolves.
A: Could you talk about your process a bit? What does a project look like from start to finish and how does it evolve?
MT: As said before first we try to define the scale and the scope of a project depending on a briefing, or a set topic or, in case of self initiated project, a particular interest. Most of the time this defines whether it is large scale, installative, kinetic, interactive, a simple object or a piece of furniture. Then we discuss if we want to communicate something with the project or if it should be very practical or if it has to solve something etc. Based on all that we define a rough framework for the project and start thinking, dreaming, discussing, testing, researching.... That's the most difficult part. This time before a concept is formulated. Once we have the concept and the idea, we start questioning if it is the best approach and how it could be even better. We start testing scales, materials, mechanics, discuss if things make sense, etc. and try to be open how these results have an influence on the “final” project. Of course now this sounds very linear but in fact it is not a very linear process, we often jump in the middle back to the start or a specific test changes the concept....We try to be flexible in order to find the best way for each project.
A: Is there ever a moment where you feel the piece is fully complete or do you keep trying to improve and change it up until the last minute?
MT: We have the feeling nothing is ever final or fully complete. We even improve and change details of projects years later. We continuously evolve and so do most of our projects.
A: Do you ever hit walls or roadblocks with projects and if so how do you work on overcoming those obstacles?
MT: Sure, we face problems within our work - like most people. We try to find ways to destroy the problem or we find a way around it. Sometimes we even manage to turn the problem into a benefit. Of course in the moment we encounter the problem we are as frustrated as others but then we work hard to solve the issue.
A: Who have been some of your greatest influences?
MT: We do not have one particular person in mind that had the greatest influence on us. Maybe we had the greatest influence on each other.
A: Is there a specific company or business that you would love to create for?
MT: There are so many things we have not tried out so the list is very long. We would love to challenge industrial processes within producing companies, we have never created stage design, and we are very interested in new technologies and materials …
A: What was one of the hardest things you encountered when starting out?
MT: As creative people, we enjoy creating projects way more than business. Sometimes we just want to make the best project and do not care much about how much money we spend. So we still struggle to find good balance between our drive to create and the business side of things.
A: What advice would you give your past-selves or to anyone who is starting their career as a designer?
MT: Stay honest to yourself and create projects the way you want them to be. Do not wait for the right occasion, or the right client or the right whatever, try always to make the best project in the given context.
Thank you again to Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler for taking the time to answer our questions! If you’d like to learn more about the studio check out their work and upcoming events at mischertraxler.com.