Women in design: Cecilie Manz
DANISH DESIGNER CECILIE MANZ, who has worked with brands like Fritz Hansen, B&O, Muutuo, and Iittala, was recently chosen as the Maison&Objet designer of the year for 2018. While she is primarily an industrial furniture and product designer, her prototypes and sculptural pieces are also important features of Manz’s practice. A number of these were exhibited at M&O, the furniture fair that took place in Paris in January, in a self-designed exhibition space.
Interesting samples and prototypes included a room divider made of pine with leather hinges called Separate; an oval Pouf for Fritz Hansen in warm tones of Kvadrat fabric; and Gateau, a cake stand with a small wooden tray on an anodized aluminium ring that doubles as a plinth, inspired by her work for B&O Play. Manz also recently designed a pocket-sized speaker for the consumer electronics brand that operates without buttons. She is torn over her relationship with objects. “I love objects and I hate them,” she confesses. “Yes, I always strive to make things disappear, reduce them to the minimal, but on the other hand I own a hundred wooden spoons.”
Manz’s work is playful but ultimately faithful to the hallmarks of contemporary Scandinavian design, which she equates with an appreciation for raw materials and a pared down aesthetic. “It is of course not easy for me to see Scandinavian design from the outside,” she admits, “but I think we have a way with materiality: the fact that wood doesn’t need to be lacquered and metal is shown as metal, for instance.” Her color base is a palate of grays with splashes of other colors and her objects are rendered in materials ranging from solid wood to fabric. “It is probably a part of our simplicity and reluctant attitude: we do not like to show off and [dislike] too much golden fuzz.”
She set up her eponymous design studio in Copenhagen in 1998, after graduating from the School of Design at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts with additional studies at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki. Although trained as a designer, Manz’s approach employs a conceptualism akin to art. “Looking back it was obvious,” she says of her journey so far, “but I had my head focused on something slightly different first, something more arty, free.”