DAMN°: There have been many famous collectors – Sigmund Freund collected scarabs and statuettes; Salvador Dalí, plagiarisms of his own works. What was your personal motivation in collecting design?
DAMN°: What was the first piece you acquired?
DAMN°: For private collectors it is crucial to possess single pieces. Nevertheless, you decided quite early on to make the collection part of the Vitra Design Museum.
DAMN°: There are some famous estates in the collection, for example, that of Charles and Ray Eames and of Alexander Girard. What is their significance?
RF: It is awesome to be able to obtain such a heritage, and at the same time, it’s also a heavy responsibility. It takes years before you can see a result. Hardly anybody knows what it means to work with an archive, and those who do so rarely get the attention they deserve. Therefore, an estate can be a mixed blessing. But take the Alexander Girard archive, we could not have organised the exciting recent exhibition without it!
DAMN°: Marc Chagall commented that one recognises a collector not by what he owns but by the things that most delight him. What is it you would be most delighted to add to the collection?
RF: Naturally, there is a dream collection. There are objects that would be great to have but are no longer available or are so expensive that you cannot afford them. I am not worried about these lacking highlights. It makes me happier to discover things that I had previously neglected. It may be strange for a Swiss person, but for a long while I was not very interested in Swiss design. I’m now discovering people like Jacob Müller, Wilhelm Kienzle, and Max Ernst Haefeli, who are hardly known outside Switzerland but have wonderful yet very discreet qualities. This morning I went through the collection and had a look at some chairs by Josef Frank that previously I hadn’t appreciated very much, and I was delighted. It is great that the collection is not personal at all. It’s not limited by my own borders. That’s why again and again I am able to discover new aspects of design that I did not notice before.
Radical Design is at the Schaudepot in Weil am Rhein, Germany, until 17 November