A portrait of Jeannette Altherr: in search of what really matters

Designer Jeannette Altherr has been collaborating successfully with burgbad for more than five years now. Photo: Marina Denisova
28. September 2021

Coco, presented in 2016, was the result of the first successful collaboration between Jeannette Altherr and burgbad. The sensuous bathroom collection radiates a great sense of serenity and is made for modern urban bathrooms that aim to convey a timelessly classic character and compact functionality – qualities and connections that the Heidelberg-born German has always pursued in her work as a product and industrial designer, creative director and communications manager.

In her product creations, Altherr attaches great importance to warmth and cosiness – as demonstrated by the MYA capsule collection, for instance. In her latest creation for burgbad, she reinterpreted the country style and linked the desire to be in touch with nature with an urban outlook. She took her inspiration from Shaker furniture, the aesthetic of which is based on a combination of craftsmanship, natural materials and an appreciation of simplicity. In 2020, together with her studio Altherr Désile Park, she extended the collection with the addition of storage and seating elements, as well as a series of shelves and accessories, to create an extensive furniture range.

A holistic approach, a humanistic character and the search for what really matters – combined with a sense of harmony and balance: that’s the hallmark of Jeannette Altherr’s work. And those same characteristics were already evident in the designs of the Lievore Altherr Molina studio that she founded in 1991 together with Argentinian architect Alberto Lievore and interior designer Manel Molina in Barcelona. In 1989, she had moved to the Spanish city from Darmstadt as a 24-year-old to continue her industrial design studies and worked for various magazines as a freelance stylist.

New alliances, proven strategy

The first collaboration between Jeannette Altherr and burgbad: the Coco collection
The first collaboration between designer Jeannette Altherr and bathroom furniture producer burgbad resulted in the Coco collection.

After 25 years of the Lievore Altherr Molina partnership, Jeannette Altherr decided to explore new avenues and founded the Altherr Désile Park studio with Delphine Désile and Dennis Park in 2016. For various projects, however, her new studio still collaborates with her old associate as Lievore + Altherr Désile Park. Together they develop projects based on an established strategic approach: a creative concept that integrates both the product design and the communications for it.

That is precisely what Altherr Désile Park did in the case of burgbad’s capsule collection MYA, taking on the art direction for its presentation at imm cologne 2020: at a booth measuring 80 square metres, the studio juxtaposed the MYA collection with the striking, urban-influenced RGB capsule collection by Stefan Diez: two different sets, two ends of a spectrum. Wood and natural materials, rounded forms and muted shades for the freestanding MYA system. And in the case of RGB, aluminium profiles, clear edges and expanses of glass in vivid colours, wall-mounted on concrete. The contrast couldn’t have been greater, and yet the presentation also highlighted the connecting elements the two collections share: the sustainable approach of using as few components as possible to offer the maximum number of options and flexible, modular furniture for individual use in any living space – from the bathroom to the hallway and even the kitchen.

Pragmatic yet progressive

Trade show booth at imm cologne 2020 – launch of the new capsule collection MYA
The new capsule collection MYA made its debut at imm cologne 2020. The booth concept is also the work of Jeannette Altherr. Photo: Constantin Meyer, burgbad

A sustainable approach to materials and appearances is very important to Jeannette Altherr, as is creating design with visual longevity that looks contemporary without seeming cool or overly minimalistic. That’s why, as a designer, she feels her way towards solutions, revises, diversifies, endures contradictions and uncertainties and sees herself as in a state of continuous development. However, Altherr regards sustainability as a collective goal rather than an individual mission. For her, that raises the question of what contribution we can make to ensure that products are once again worthy of being taken care of and repaired. How can we design, produce and consume more sustainably?

She knows that visionary ideas are usually difficult to communicate – which is why it’s necessary to find a translation that will appeal to both the client and their customers. And that means creating something that is pragmatic enough to work in everyday life but nevertheless progressive. That is the path she takes with MYA too. The furniture from the capsule collection is in keeping with the Shaker tradition without looking too radical. The oak used to make it might be thin, but the wood is nevertheless very sturdy and doesn’t need to be reinforced with composites. Furniture that’s reduced to the essentials but nevertheless creates a cosy atmosphere. Suitable for everyday use, but progressive all the same.

Click here to read an interview with Jeannette Altherr about sustainability and design.

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