How I got here right here: designer Sam Hecht
Sam Hecht has a 20-year partnership with Muji that helps shape the company's minimalist yet practical image. Here he looks back on over 30 years as a designer and discusses his “obsessive curiosity” and why design sometimes has to be driven by needs rather than desires
As one half of the Industrial Facility design studio, Sam Hecht designed everything from chairs and lamps to storage boxes and coffee machines. Hecht originally studied industrial design at Central Saint Martins, followed by a master's degree from the Royal College of Art. He lived and worked in San Francisco and Tokyo for several years before returning to London and setting up his studio with partner Kim Collin.
Together, the duo created works for some of the biggest names in design, not least for Muji, who has been working with Industrial Facility for two decades. And while Hecht's work may be characterized by an unmistakable kind of minimalism, the designer quickly emphasizes how much attention is paid to the smallest details of each individual piece. Here he tells CR how he became interested in industrial design and mass production out of natural curiosity and why his studio takes a finely crafted approach to his work for Muji.
His early creative endeavors I wasn't very good at school, but I was very good at doing things – and when I say doing things, I mean taking things apart more than anything. I was very curious as a child, but not very hardworking, and that's not a good sign of a school system. I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but then I came across design. I was very interested in the idea of drawing something, doing it and using it. It wasn't really artistic, it was more of an idea of practicality. From there I was able to make an art foundation that definitely opened my eyes and my mind enormously.
Top picture: Portrait of NPF. Above: coffee machine for Muji
Industrial design in the 90s It was a very male job, and I think it was partly because he was connected to the workshop and the idea that using a lathe or milling machine was exactly what men were doing. I can't really describe it. In a way, it was almost an ex-army. I had a lot of fun, but I wouldn't say it was a brilliant education. It was a very, very traditional way of thinking about what design is.