Founder of the Hamburg interior design studio Nomad, Jutta Werner caused a sensation at DOMOTEX 2018 with her rug made from recycled candy wrappers. In this interview, she reveals what’s behind the design – as well as how interior design comes from within.

Ms. Werner, what does the DOMOTEX "Unique Youniverse" leading theme mean to you?

The individualization trend is advancing like never before – possibly because we are all becoming too similar. In some ways, we have never been as uniform as we are today. There used to be much stronger differences between countries, cultures, and generations. I travel a lot and sometimes I am shocked by how little difference there is between city centers: Everywhere has the same stores, the same brands, the same colors. And, everyone uses the same internet platforms, blogs, and social media sites – I even listen to the same playlists as my four sons.

Why do we actually want to be individual?

To want to be unique is a very human desire: It’s a part of life. We do not want to admit that we are just a cog in the world’s machine; that we walk the planet a while and then we’re gone. Individuality means working against your own mortality. Doing something that creates a legacy. Following the motto: I am unique, therefore I exist. As an interior designer I get to know my clients before starting a project. Only then can I create a tailor-made design.

How do your clients approach you?

15 years ago, customers would often say, "You are the expert – just do it." Today, customers come to me with very specific ideas. They have done some research on the internet and believe they know what best suits them. But, in the final stages, they realize they cannot do it alone. So, I start again from scratch. I ask my customers what it is they dislike about their current interior design and what they are imagining. I try to find out just where their desire for change stems from. What is the driving force? When I know that, I can do everything else quite easily. The decisive moments take place in conversation.

So, there’s a particular psychology behind each and every design?

Exactly. Interior space and people are connected. In principle, there are two types of customer. On the one hand you have those who want to evolve because they have recently changed – maybe they experienced something extraordinary. In this case, I simply try to bring out what is on the inside. On the other hand, there are customers that are unhappy with their interior design but don’t know exactly why. I present a design to them that they would never have imagined, full of new structures, materials, and colors. I direct them a certain way. My aim is that afterwards the customer will say, “It’s so different living here now, my whole day is better and I can relax much more easily.” Psychology is a huge part of interior design.

"Psychology is a huge part of interior design."

You mainly work with large, international companies. Is it a similar case for these?

Private customers want well-being, companies want profit. Besides that, the way I work with industrial customers is basically the same as with private customers. Either I draw out what is already hidden within a brand, or I show them how to sharpen or reposition their brand using their outer appearance. A brand also represents a lifestyle and make a promise to the customer: If you buy me, you are on-trend or have taste. I present this idea in 3D. With a stand design, you see very quickly whether it is a success or not – that’s that beauty of it.

What is Nomad's brand promise?

Nomad is open-minded, respects individuality, and stands for reliability from design concept to implementation and customer care. We also have a principle concept in our designs which is that we want move our customers emotionally and fascinate them with simplicity. Simplicity is sometimes the hardest to achieve; works that seem casual are the result of hard work. We ask ourselves: to what extent can we minimize the design? At what point should we not take anything else away? However, our nomad_01 design was not a struggle, but rather the essence of many years’ experience.

"In design, simplicity is sometimes the hardest to achieve."

How was nomad_01 created?

On a trip to the Himalayas I met farmers who used recycled candy wrappers to tie their hay. The playful colors in the material fascinated me, as did the way it shone and glittered. So I had two bundles of these candy wrappers processed in an Indian weaving mill. To achieve maximum contrast, I decided to have the iridescent wrappers interwoven with new wool – the simplest, most standard material that you can think of. At first glance, the rug looks matte and plain, but when the sun shines it glimmers like the surface of water or a starry sky. This gives life to the rug and it looks different in every room. Space and carpet react to one another. That’s exactly what represents Nomad: functioning products with a charming, uncontrollable side effect. Our customers are able to select the dimensions and the wool themselves. However, the candy wrapper fibers cannot be controlled and could even turn out completely purple or yellow. In a way, this is the next stage of individualization, where a product can be individualized to a great extent, but also preserves an element of surprise and uniqueness. Every nomad_01 is a one-off.

What did customers think of nomad_01?

DOMOTEX showed the customer reaction clearly: We were completely overrun. This year was the first time I had my own stand – in hall 9, the new center where everyone mixes in together. It was like being in a lively shared kitchen – I really liked that. DOMOTEX is a nomadic place, with all kinds of different cultural influences. As if it were made for Nomad.

Jutta Werner is founder and CEO of the Nomad design studio . Born in the 1969, she became a self-employed designer at just 25 years old, after studying architecture at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg.