G-Pulse interview: Hans-Jörg Müller on switch design and product development
When you move to a new home or renovate a property, you quickly come to realise that not all switches are created equal – even if you’ve never paid attention to them before. Switches are available in a vast range of colours, materials and different shapes. But how do we recognise a good design when we see one? We put this question – and many more besides – to Hans-Jörg Müller, Head of Product Development and Design at Gira. In this interview, the expert shares his insights into the world of product development and reveals the inspirations behind his work.
G-Pulse editorial team: Mr. Müller, you’re the Head of Product Development and Design at Gira. What does a typical day at work look like for you – and is there even such a thing in your profession?
Müller: In the world of design and development, there isn’t really such a thing as a typical day in the office. That’s what makes the job so exciting. One of our most important tasks is to draw up and continuously develop our roadmap. We have a clear vision of where we want to take Gira in the next two, four and six years. I’m engaged in a constant dialogue with my product managers, who are responsible for individual products and projects, to keep us all moving towards this vision.
"Our day-to-day role is about moving forwards all the time."
Of course, we are always comparing what we are doing to the rest of the market, other sectors, and to the field of design and technology in general – taking Gira’s specific strengths into account along the way. In this sense, our day-to-day role is about moving forwards all the time.
G-Pulse editorial team: How do you decide which new colours or surface finishes to add to the portfolio?
Müller: We monitor developments and trends, look at what’s going on in the worlds of design and architecture and work closely with architects and designers. Even with all of this research, a lot of what we do is based on instinct. We reach final decisions as a team, placing equal weighting on form and look and feel.
G-Pulse editorial team: Do you have a favourite material to work with?
Müller: I personally like working with plastic, because it’s the most versatile in terms of shape: It can be used to create straight-lined squares or rounded designs. It’s a wonderful material that is both long-lasting and robust.
G-Pulse editorial team: Where do you draw inspiration from?Müller: We keep an eye on what’s going on in the world of design and attend events like the furniture and interior design show in Cologne for inspiration.
"We draw inspiration from what we see happening in other sectors."
Ceramics and plumbing events are also of great interest to us. After all, design is everywhere. We draw inspiration from what we see happening in other sectors. It could be stage design, fashion or films. We identify trends – and in recent years, the trend has been that anything goes. The trends of the eighties and nineties were very homogenous, but these days people like to combine lots of different styles together.
"The switch shouldn’t be an entity in itself, but should integrate into its environment. That is our philosophy.“
G-Pulse editorial team: What trends have you observed in switch design?
Müller: While switches in the eighties were very much designed to make a statement – like the Gira S-Color – everything that followed was relatively understated.
The idea comes from a well-established industrial design concept: Design should be simple, understated, functional and long-lasting – and to achieve that, you have to go back to basics. The materials have to be high quality, too; this is an important factor for our customers. The current Gira range is designed to fit in any style of interior. We do integrate new on-trend colours into our design lines – such as the addition of matt grey to the Gira E2 design line, or bronze to the Gira Esprit – but we don’t feel the need to jump on every single trend.
G-Pulse editorial team: Have you installed any Gira products in your home?
I also like to swap out my switch frames from time to time – that’s what the products were designed for. I like making the most of the scope for variety and flexibility that is built into the design.
G-Pulse editorial team: Thank you for talking to us!
Which Gira products would you like to have in your home and which have you already installed? Share your favourites in the comments!