If a table were a house, I would be the structural engineer. I calculate tensile loads and compressive forces, construct pillars, struts, frames. I draw the basic structure to exact dimensions on my computer. The thing to bear in mind is that even though every piece of furniture we make is the product of perfect craftsmanship, all our products also have a technological core.
What makes a product truly fascinating is the marriage of craftsmanship and technology. That’s exactly what “Made in Germany” means. We’re located in a region that is brimming with leading technology firms. In our development process, we work closely together with companies that are also involved in research for the automotive industry.
Measuring, calculating, tinkering and thinking about the long-term behavior of the material – Rainer Brinkmann makes sure Walter Knoll furniture stands securely and withstands all the demands placed on it
Take the soft edges of our Tama Desk, for example. We shape these with special care, using a unique vacuum process. We cast the legs of our Conference-X in solid aluminum. Beforehand, I must precisely calculate how much the metal will expand in the heat and contract again when cooled. And we only find out if my calculations were correct when the parts emerge from the mold. That’s always an exciting moment.
With Conference-X, for example, the delicate feet support the center in an X shape. But how would the table react to loads placed on its edge? When it was finished, I sat on the very rim. I weigh eighty kilos. The calculations were right! The table didn’t wobble at all.
I fight for every detail. You’ll often find me lying under a table thinking about connections and cable ports. A single button can preoccupy me for three days. I spent months tinkering with one small occasional table. The problem was how to construct a solid wooden leg so that it could tolerate both heat and cold. We got there in the end. And the solution was simple and ingenious – which is a fantastic feeling.