PASSION FOR QUALITY
Everything about the work of the industrial designer and now creative director of Astfrei, Mathias Hintermann, carries the unmistakeable marks of quality. He is a professional who is used to working with the very best raw materials in the market and his products are the unique and exclusive result of a long process of research and investigation. He never makes exactly the same thing twice and he wouldn’t want to either. It’s the mark of his own personal brand.
Swiss by birth and education, Hintermann now lives in San Francisco. In 2014, he founded the company Astfrei with Schweighauser, a veteran of the furniture world with more than 75 years experience working with wood. The idea was to produce what both sides understood to be well made design. Hintermann combines this new venture with his job at a large multinational firm. He admits, “I like to devote all my free time to design. It’s my inner passion.”
His collaboration with Schweighauser, with headquarters in both California and Basle, led to the creation of CS1, a side table made using reinforced concrete, wood and copper. The piece is a physical representation of the dual philosophy of the company.
Mathias explains, “Our designs are made in San Francisco Bay and then sent to Switzerland to be manufactured by hand. CS1 really has part of my DNA in it. It’s the result of combining emotion with a large percentage of creative thinking, something that I really connect with and that has taught me a whole host of new things.”
The piece is also the point of convergence for various elements that make it special. On one hand, it brings together cold materials such as concrete and copper, with warmer materials such as walnut wood, and on the other, its lines blend its smooth, light appearance with its solid and robust construction.
Neither side of the company worry too much about the future, other than some environmental issues that do disturb them. Hintermann tells us, “We think a lot about the interaction between design and respect for the environment, with regard to the exploitation of materials and creating a better future, but we’ll work more on that as time goes by.” So is this the dream project? Creating a company that combines the ideas and skills of many different people must surely give rise to a great deal of good ideas.