Democratic design

Rolf Hay There's one good rule for industrial production: never offload a production tool. If you can have the production running constantly, then you can make things a little better day by day. By the end of a year you can have made many adjustments in the quality and precision of production. Democratic design, industrial design and mass production have a lot to do with making precise products. Each product has to be the same, every time. Of course, you can also say it's quite charming to have no two products the same, but for Apple, for example, it would be a big problem.

Sophie Lovell Presumably, another thing that also helps is to keep the product range under control. Strangely, that is also something Jony Ive said: that they sell these huge quantities but, actually, their product range is very small. Do you find you also have to be very disciplined in deciding how many and what products you actually make?

RH You cannot compare Hay to Apple, you cannot compare Hay to Ikea, but I think one of the reasons why Apple made this remarkable comeback after Steve Jobs returned and Jonathan Ive started to head the industrial design department is that they actually became quite small. I mean, they put 90 per cent of the products in the garbage bin, leaving very few in production. Then they created all the products we know today that have changed the way we live.

SL Do democratic industrial design goals automatically imply a pragmatic, functional simplicity in both form and structure? Does it lock you into a tradition that leads out of the Werkbund, Bauhaus and Ulm and the austerity-driven origins of functional Scandinavian design?

RH Form following function, yeah – but I don't mind. Is that a bad thing?

Rolf Hay in conversation with Sophie Lovell, Full House Diez Office

Interesting book about chairs and lamps.