Interview with Eike König of HORT

A conceptual and emotional approach to design for this free-spirit graphic design studio.

HORT, Berlin

#Art & Culture

Eike könig is the founder and director of HORT, a berlin-based graphic design studio known for its experimental and free-spirited approach. designboom caught up with eike following a recent solo exhibition of his work at fisk gallery in Portland.

Designboom: what originally made you want to become a graphic designer?

Eike könig: the cold war and my love to music. magazines at that time where full of info-graphics, showing how many times both sides could destroy the world, and with it, mankind. graphic design has a very strong power that caught my interest. a good way to forget about the fear of being nuked by some nuclear bombs was to listen to music. I really loved it when when good music was combined with great graphics. at that time it was hipngnosis (by storm thorgerson and aubrey powell), reid miles, jamie reed, peter saville, jean-paul goude, vaughan oliver and for sure david carson, neville brody etc.

I studied graphic design in darmstadt, germany. my professors were the swiss typographer christoph gassner and peter von kornatzki a former student of otl aicher. while at university I became the art director of the frankfurt based logic records, owned by the band snap! in 1994 I started my own studio named HORT, focussing on graphics for music.

img.0View of the HORT show at fisk galleryphoto by eike könig

DB: how would you describe HORT’s approach to design?

EK: conceptual, emotional, visual – sometimes playful but always deliberated. We don’t work for but with people. so we like to invest in relationships.

DB: who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?

EK: not really. it’s all kind of natural / organic learning by doing. there’s no wise mentor who taught me how to fail. 

img.1View of the HORT show at fisk galleryphoto by eike könig

DB: has anyone / anything recently challenged your views on graphic design?

EK: not radically – but softly. from time to time there’s something that is giving you a new perspective and has an influence on your thinking. for me it’s always about learning from the past, but also questioning it. you’ll have to be flexible in your mind. communication and technology is changing and you have to stay in track. within new things there are always big chances involved. 

img.2View of the HORT show at fisk galleryphoto by eike könig

img.3View of the HORT show at fisk galleryphoto by eike könig

DB: what type of brief or client do you enjoy working with the most and why?

EK: that changes from mood to mood. sure, I like to have a radical thinker, a visionary, someone who is honest and brave enough to fight for an idea. I prefer clients who accept you as a partner less as a fulfiller. and things that are challenging are way more interesting than stuff you did before and repeat it because other people ask you to repeat it.

DB: is there a particular part of the design process that you enjoy the most?

EK: there’s a beauty and a beast in all parts of the process … 

img.4View of the HORT show at fisk galleryphoto by eike könig

DB: what are your thoughts on specialisation vs generalisation

EK: I find people with a strong attitude way more interesting than people without. that doesn’t answer the question, but I wanted to mention this.

DB: how do you think online design resources have influenced the graphic design being produced today?

EK: massively! when I studied there was no internet. everything I knew about graphic design was from books I researched in the libary. there wasn’t that much visual input and I did not compare my own work every day with other peoples work. I felt much more relaxed because of this. it’s great to see so much good work from around the world but it doesn’t really help you with your own progress. 

img.5View of the HORT show at fisk galleryphoto by eike könig

DB: what are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work?

EK: what is fascinating me, since I started my studio, is working together with fantastic minds. it keeps me young, flexible and I am learning every day.

DB: do you have any superstitious beliefs or rituals that find their way into your creative process?

EK: no. no ritual. no shower inspiration blast. no candle light brainstorming. maybe a beerstorming helps sometimes.

img.6View of the HORT show at fisk galleryphoto by eike könig

DB: what do you know now that you wish you knew ten years ago?

EK: nothing – I knew everything already.

img.7View of the HORT show at fisk galleryphoto by eike könig

DB: what’s hort’s motto?

EK: you only live once – so don’t work too much.

img.8Photograph by cat garcia


Via Designboom