Interview & Design

The Lighting Luminary

AXEL MEISE, the founder and chief designer of lighting company Occhio, has a clear idea of what his lamps and lighting systems should achieve: they should make people feel good. The sixty-one-year-old’s definition of good design is just as simple: It should provide years of enjoyment.

  • Interview
    Michael Köckritz
  • Photos
    Occhio
Mr. Meise, how would you describe yourself?

I’m pretty crazy, actually, but that’s part of my job. For my sixtieth birthday, my children gave me a picture that says, “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” It’s a quote from Steve Jobs. Except that here, they’ve added “stay creative”. To be sure, it isn’t enough to stay hungry. There are other things that can ­motivate you as well. Like dissatisfaction. That may sound negative, but I think dissatisfaction is an important ­motivating factor for me.

Can you explain that in more detail?

II’m never satisfied with the status quo. That’s why I started Occhio. I’m totally convinced that you can always do more if you want to combine innovation with design, to create something truly new. The product has to give people something they haven’t seen before and that will improve their lives. And you have to be a little crazy to be able to do that without compromise.

»Als Designer kreiert man Dinge, an denen sich die Menschen erfreuen sollen. Wenn man das nicht schafft, ist man kein guter Designer.«
Axel Meise
You once said that Occhio owes its success to the fact that you think differently from all the other brands. Does that also have to do with dissatisfaction?

That, plus the matter of differentiation. I’m really bored when I make things that already exist. It’s a matter of thinking completely differently. I could quote Steve Jobs here again: “Think different.” You have to question the status quo, combine things in different new ways, take a disruptive approach.

What you shouldn’t do is say we’re going to take something that already exists and make it a little better or different or more beautiful. When we launched the Mito luminaire series, ring-shaped lighting fixtures were a dime a dozen. What we did differently is that we didn’t close the ring, so the light ended up looking like a piece of jewelry. That was the first step to say, “Think different.”
And what is the second step?

The next thing I do is that I ask myself what I expect from a luminaire and what brings comfort and a certain sense of luxury to people. The answer is to control the light with gestures instead of getting up and looking for the dimmer. To be able to adjust the light and its color as you wish, to dim the light in a room from top to bottom whenever you want.

That sounds like you’re thinking more about technology than design . . .

As a designer, you’re usually concerned with the exterior design first. I can’t do that without also thinking about the function and the people and trying to bring it all together. I want to create the possibility of interacting with light in a completely different way. At Occhio, we have our own electronics department. Today we have four designers in house, including myself, but eighteen electronics specialists.

»Gutes Design ist, wenn es sich verkauft. Das klingt blöd, aber der Kunde ist der ultimative Souverän an der Stelle.«
Axel Meise

Without electronics, all of these functional ideas and fascinating possibilities for controlling and operating the lights, for connecting with Smart Home or the Occhio Air app, wouldn’t work. Lighting without control is only half the battle – perhaps even less than half. I think that was our game changer in the industry. And because we thought differently at that point, we positioned ourselves differently. And because we positioned ourselves differently, we can continue to think differently and to develop things that haven’t been done before. For me, that’s where all the fun is at.

You mentioned luxury earlier. What do you associate with the word luxury?

That’s a very tricky question. In Germany, luxury is often seen as excessive, superfluous and overpriced. In the U.S. and the U.K., they see things differently, much more positively. Luxury is seen as added value, as beauty, as something special. I think I’m more like that myself. I don’t think luxury necessarily means ( … )


→ Read the entire interview in rampstyle #30.

Michael Köckritz

Michael Köckritz

Editor in Chief
As a journalist, author, artist and media maker, Michael Köckritz succeeds time and again in creating both attention-grabbing and sustainably stimulating impulses in the context of contemporary and future topics as well as lifestyle and luxury worlds. As publisher and editor-in-chief, he has realised a whole series of book and lifestyle magazine formats that have regularly won numerous national and international awards over the years. The car culture magazine ramp, the men's lifestyle magazine rampstyle and the design magazine ramp.design are published internationally and are considered style-setting.
rampstyle #30 Blue Skies

rampstyle #30 Blue Skies

Nach »All Summer Long« jetzt das Folgeheft »Blue Skies«. Schlüssig. Denn wenn man etwas mehr über den britischen Singer-Songwriter Chris Rea weiß, schließt sich damit ein schöner Kreis. »Blue Sky« ist eine von Reas Lieblingsmetaphern. Der blaue Himmel das Bild für einen hoffnungsvollen Blick auf das, was kommen wird.

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