20 years of Walter Knoll and EOOS

Designer EOOS

It all started with Jason...

It was 1997 when three young Austrian designers, who called themselves EOOS, came knocking on Walter Knoll’s door. They had a unique collaboration in mind. The two parties hit it off immediately and, after getting to know each other, they created the first product - the Jason sofa, a pioneering success. Indeed Jason marked the beginning of a prolific partnership.

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Twenty years later, Jason still makes heads turn and is as popular as ever. The on-going and passionate collaboration between EOOS and Walter Knoll has resulted in some 100 other products, which have not only been awarded with prestigious design prizes but have also always addressed people’s contemporary living and working necessities.

Martin Bergmann, Harald Gründl and Gernot Bohmann, who named themselves EOOS after one of the four chariot horses of Helios, the Titan who drove the sun across the sky in Ovid's metamorphoses, have been pursuing their own approach since graduation in 1995: the so-called "poetic analysis." It is their tool to explore deep-rooted ideas, traditions and myths, which are at the base of new designs. It is their key to creativity. Exploring the culture of human rituals, they question the meaning and function of design, and interpret it their way. And people truly appreciate their design interpretations - the world over and across different métiers.

Beside Walter Knoll, EOOS, through the years, has also successfully collaborated with Bulthaup, Duravit, Zumtobel, Lamy and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to name a few. In 2004, the trio was even honored with the much-coveted, independent design award "Compasso d'Oro".

In Conversation with EOOS.

We sat down with Gernot Bohmann, one of EOOS partners, who walked us through this successful 20-year-old creative liaison.

20 years is a long relationship, what is the key to maintain such a successful professional liaison?

Gernot Bohmann: I think the biggest advantage is that we constantly work together on many parallel projects. Some projects are about industrialization, some are early models, others are pure concepts. This way, you are always in motion without stopping or standing still. Problems arise when, from a stand still position, you need a lot of energy to gain momentum. We think it is all about movement and flow, otherwise you lose inspiration immediately.

Walter Knoll must be in your creative DNA by now, how did you get to this point?

Gernot Bohmann: We are incessantly searching for that very specific segment of code in which both EOOS’s and Walter Knoll’s DNAs overlap. With regards, we can say that our design is 100% EOOS and Walter Knoll can say it is 100% Walter Knoll. Of course, this synergy is not static but rather a continuous, ever-evolving transformation.

What happens when your ideas do not resonate with those of Walter Knoll?

Gernot Bohmann: It is quite normal and organic if our shared tastes and creative directions do not always overlap, either on Walter Knoll or EOOS side. But we both stay inspired by exploring new territories and crossing borders to transform our identities and embrace the future. When at times an idea is outside of our shared comfort zone, we try to shelve the concept for a while and then, years later, we often find the right key to develop it into a Walter Knoll and EOOS signature piece.

In general, what is the starting point for your creative process? Where do you draw inspiration from?

Gernot Bohmann: Every project starts with a conversation, which defines the main direction. As soon as we find a word, a sentence, an image or a feeling, the project takes off; we only have to follow the path. In general, we call our process “poetical analysis” with which we search for rituals and intuitive images to define a field where we can gravitate around. This helps us not to exit the orbit.

Where do your design ideas come from or originate? Do you have recurring rituals which lead to being at your most creative?

Gernot Bohmann: We try to follow the 360-degree concept. We look at an object from every possible angle starting from poetry and emotion all the way to production, technology, cost, material, and logistics. We ask questions like “Is it original?” “Is there a wow?” “Is it poetical?” “Can we do it another way?” “Is it intuitive?” All this leads us through the design process.

What are your outlets? For example, Gernot is an avid wind surfer, what else within the studio?

Gernot Bohmann: Design is not a job but it is your life, so in the end you always think and work. The only possibility to escape is to find something that needs all of your attention. Windsurfing in big surf, steep mountain biking or searching powder in wintertime can only be managed with the utmost focus and concentration. By doing this, you live the moment and we love it.