Photographer: Stefan Haehnel 

Having grown up as a child of design collector and craft teacher, Mark Braun owes big part of his timeless aesthetics and creative vision to his family members. We sat down with Berlin-based designer and the maker of our Table Mortar to hear more about his background and influences.

 

 

“The creative influence was strong from my grandparents who were both architects. My Dad was a big collector of design and I was fascinated with the story behind the objects. My mother taught craft so I created lots of handmade things with her. I was surrounded by design classics with my grandparents and their Scandinavian architectural background,” he remembers.

It is little surprise that Braun enrolled on an apprenticeship as a carpenter, a role that honed his influences, “At the time I built almost everything at home myself, including the furniture, which led me to product design,” he says. The young Braun then spent time at the Design Academy in Eindhoven on an exchange before returning to Berlin where he took a holistic approach to his studies.

 

 

 

“I became interested in the materials and different processes such as ceramics, screen printing and 3D driven machining. Those interests are apparent in my portfolio today,” he says. 

 Indeed, a quick scan of Braun’s work throws up chairs, tables, shelves, a Brandy bottle, coat hangers, watches, a vase, lighting and even a portable healthcare screening device. The ease with which he traverses disciplines is a testament to filling his formative years with collaborations and feeding from disparate fields of interest.

 

 
 

 

“At school, we were required to collaborate with design manufacturers and I worked with a packaging producer on a set of stationery which I sold in museums and at the Andreas Murkudis store. This was my ‘entrepreneur moment’, when I realised I could produce my own things.”

Currently in the process of moving to larger premises, the Mark Braun Studio employs three people with a procession of freelance talent passing through on spec, while Braun himself has also taken on extra-curricular activity as professor of Industrial Design at HBK Saar university.

 

 

His recent collaboration with Hem on a marble pestle and mortar that doubles as a container beautifully illustrates his approach. “When I receive a brief, I first try to understand the company, what they offer and what their customers might be surprised with. The Table Mortar already existed as a self-initiated project when Hem first visited me,” he says. “They saw the mortar on a shelf and asked if it was on the market. The mortar would not be possible with any other company, as Hem was the only one not to compromise on price or quality.”

 

 

Braun’s work allows him to reflect on the idea of innovation. “The mortar is a very old concept. How can you reinvent it? My character, as a designer, contributes to the object’s identity, while the innovation shows in its dual use - it can serve not only as a mortar, but also as a container. Placing an object in a new context to break the old habits is what I call an innovation,” he says. 


 



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