Schnur mentions his grandmother’s colourful clothespins and an unspecified sink plunger as his earliest inspirations. “Those kinds of anonymous everyday products we use without knowing who actually designed them. They are common property, which makes them even more fascinating. And even tough they’re rarely mentioned as being our favourite objects, we are very happy to have them when we need them.”It’s exactly those kinds of daily items Schnur loves to create, although he himself has no desire to remain anonymous.

His work is not purely industrial design – many of the products balance between craft and design, and between useful product and practical joke. Still, Schnur very much enjoys working for the industry and expresses a strong desire for mass production. Hybrid seems to be the keyword describing the design as well as the designer. He grew up in a small rural village in the German Saarland but always had a strong connection with nearby France. During his training at the University of Applied Sciences in Aachen, he spent six months at the École Supérieure d’Art & Design in Saint Étienne and then six months in Paris as an intern for French designer Mathieu Lehanneur. “Some of my fellow students went to Australia or Asia for their internships, I just moved to France.” And what does he feel was the impact on his work? “When you look into the history of German design, you encounter big visions and rules for good design, in the genre of Bauhaus or Dieter Rams. In France, design is not as strongly related to the industry as it is in Germany, but is rather focused on crafts. And the French have a huge respect for authors – in the arts, crafts, literature, movies etc., as well as in design. The emphasis is more on personal ideas, on the personality of the maker; whereas in Germany, we are more focused on finding the best solutions. I have learned from both approaches. On the German side, I just love it when the object is serially producible. My eye for precision, usability, and function is inspired by German culture. But I sometimes break the rules, which is the French side speaking. And my objects represent my thoughts: I try to communicate through them, and that’s also more of a French thing.”

BENCH CHAIR, 2010
Schnur’s work can be seen at IMM as well as in the side programme. “I like it that way”, he beams. The Stand Up collection is presented by Objekten, while the Twist Dining Table for Functionals is displayed in the NODD showroom (Marsilstein 6); his new book and corresponding exhibition on the objects and stories of daily life, 21 Common Things, can be seen at POP;68 (Bismarckstraße 70). To conclude, Schnur emphasises the importance of the Cologne fair: “It’s crucial that as a designer you can show your work at IMM once a year, interacting with professionals from all over the world and meeting people from the industry as well as fellow designers, teachers, and journalists. It is an ideal event at which to exchange ideas with the entire design scene. And in my case – since I’m based here – I can invite people into my studio and show them prototypes and projects. For me, IMM is part of the triangle Paris-Cologne-Milan.”

RUBBER TABLE, 2011
TWIST dining table, Functionals
STAND UP side table for OBJEKTEN SYSTEMS
21 COMMON THINGS: Green Plastic Watering Can
21 COMMON THINGS: Blue Transparent Plastic Bag
Thomas Schnur evolving the structure of the TWIST table: from the idea to the research to the experiments...