Expert interview

"VAREDO demonstrates character"

With VAREDO Designer Jean-Marc Schneider has created for Hess a new generation of luminaires and site furnishings that gives landscape architects and lighting designers maximum freedom when designing urban spaces. We have spoken with Jean-Marc Schneider about the genesis process of VAREDO.

1. You designed the new VAREDO collection exclusively for Hess. What inspired you and which criteria played a role?

The aim of VAREDO was an ideal combination of function and aesthetics.

An idea that frequently occupies me as a designer is that things are complex before they become straightforward. In this sense, for me, every creation reflects reality to a certain extent.
With the VAREDO collection, simple shapes were important – free of any decorative details yet with their own character. It is precisely this character that makes the collection so unmistakeable and at the same time gives it, its distinctive design.
An object's purity and simplicity should also mean that it outlasts trends and is not just a fad. Sustainability is an important keyword here, which calls for select materials and high build quality. It was extremely important to Hess and the design consultancy that the VAREDO collection was realised in this spirit.

VAREDO - Never has a unity been so manifold

2. As for many models by Hess, the idea of family plays a primary role with VAREDO. What does this mean in practice?

Meeting the requirements of everyday life within public spaces. With its restrained lines this product family doesn't impose itself on urban spaces, but rather fits discreetly into the surroundings. It is primarily about fulfilling functional requirements. At the same time, the aesthetic aspect needs to be there – without overpowering existing elements of the street.

3. All models have a stringent design idiom. What did you want to achieve by this?

Assigning one shape to multiple objects and thereby creating a family allows you to bring together several functions for the public space. The colour scheme obviously forms part of this homogeneity.
Asymmetry and two-tone finishes are key features of the VAREDO collection. These principles are applied across the entire collection and are what make it unique.
In my opinion, VAREDO's aesthetic value is also derived from professional, high-quality workmanship. Close collaboration with the engineers was a defining, crucial factor in the outcome.

4. Galvanised steel, Corten steel, pressure-impregnated ash, waxed pine – select materials are used to produce the products, giving the models their distinctive appearance. What added value do you see as a result of this?

The collection's added value lies in the natural beauty of the materials. What is more, the simple and restrained forms of the collection underline the surface structure and texture of the chosen materials.
Depending on the intensity of daylight, the use of wood and stainless steel in conjunction with the products' high-quality surface treatment creates colour play and structural combinations full of nuances.

5. VAREDO stands for a multitude of possible combinations. Is there a trend you are wanting to do justice to? What is your objective?

The underlying idea is a flowing design for the public space. For example, VAREDO benches pick up on the dynamism of the space in their gently curved form. This effect is further emphasised when combined with a second bench or a planter. It also visually differentiates VAREDO benches (with or without backrest) from the conventional profile of a public bench seat. Furthermore, VAREDO benches have unfamiliar proportions which complement increasingly linear urban structures.
In actual fact, the multitude of possible combinations is a core feature of the VAREDO collection. The VAREDO design concept is based on mimicry or the chameleon principle according to which the colour, material and combination of products can be adapted to suit the surroundings. This mutability and adaptability is what makes the collection so appealing and gives it its unmistakeable character.

Jean-Marc Schneider

Jean-Marc Schneider is a freelance designer with a broad spectrum of work: The expert has already contributed to the design of motorcycles and perfume bottles for companies of different industries. His claim is an optimal relationship between aesthetics and function at all times.
In addition, topics such as indoor and outdoor lighting as well as the design of urban spaces characterize his work. “Street furnishing is a preference issue for me indeed. These items, which are intended for the public space, face the world of urban architecture and are aligned to it. In this respect, these items have a special determination", summarizes Jean-Marc Schneider.
Along these lines, the expert has designed several products for the lighting and street furnishings specialist Hess. Among others, the tree grates VERONA and SERPO, the lighting column VIGO and the pole mounted luminaire CANTO, which has been awarded with the German iF product design award in 2000.
Hess’ luminaire SERA, which was designed by him, was multiple times awarded, too. In 2005, the Light Fair New York honored the design quality of the luminaire with the "Best of Category Award for Exterior Luminaires, Lighting Site and Roadway". The Euro region Neisse-Nisa-Nysa gave the SERA model the tri-national Innovation Award "Innovation 2006" in the category "Best Innovation".
Jean-Marc Schneider is currently working on exclusive wooden structures for the garden ranging from high-quality benches over garden pavilions to roofed seats. An overview of his designs can be found under www.lenia.fr