Alfredo Häberli

Alfredo Häberli
© BAK/ Linus Bill

Alfredo Häberli, 1964

Furniture and product designer, Zurich

The Swiss Con­fed­er­a­tion is ho­n­our­ing prod­uct de­signer Al­fredo Häberli for his wide-rang­ing work as a de­signer, en­tre­pre­neur and me­di­a­tor of Swiss de­sign. Al­fredo Häberli is a gifted ob­server. He ex­plores the every­day world to its very roots, search­ing out so­lu­tions to un­sat­is­fac­tory sit­u­a­tions and chang­ing cus­toms, and he shapes what he has dis­cov­ered into ob­jects that are new to the eye, but fa­mil­iar to the mind. As he has said him­self, ‘Ob­ser­va­tion is the finest form of think­ing.’ On the one hand, his chairs, arm­chairs and sets of glasses are for­mally skil­ful and styl­is­ti­cally as­sured. On the other, his ob­jects have a re­fine­ment that often only be­comes ev­i­dent at sec­ond glance or when they are being used. The teapot de­signed for the Dan­ish man­u­fac­turer Georg Jensen, for ex­am­ple, catches the strainer in its neck at the end of the de­sired brew­ing time, so that tea does not drip onto the table as usu­ally hap­pens when a tea strainer is re­moved.
Al­fredo Häberli was born to Swiss par­ents in Ar­gentina and first came to Switzer­land with them at the age of 13. In his work and per­son­al­ity, he com­bines Hel­vetian crafts­man­ship with a south­ern lifestyle. His de­signs breathe qual­i­ties of light­ness and dy­namism. Shapes that trig­ger as­so­ci­a­tions, del­i­cate con­struc­tions and a re­duced use of ma­te­ri­als give his prod­ucts their light­ness, and slant­ing lines and ta­per­ing vol­umes give them their dy­namism. Al­fredo Häberli’s ob­jects have such a nat­ural and con­vinc­ing ap­pear­ance that it is easy to over­look how much la­bo­ri­ous ef­fort, per­se­ver­ance and ex­per­tise in the his­tory of de­sign are needed, in ad­di­tion to the cre­ative­ness ap­plied, to ar­rive at so­lu­tions like this – so­lu­tions that have been pur­chased in large quan­ti­ties for many years and are al­ready re­garded as steady long-term sell­ers.
Al­fredo Häberli’s ca­reer has been shaped by long and fruit­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion with var­i­ous man­u­fac­tur­ers of fur­ni­ture and home ac­ces­sories. The com­pa­nies were mainly well-known Ital­ian la­bels dur­ing the early part of his ca­reer, start­ing in the 1990s, but since 2000 Scan­di­na­vian com­pa­nies have also fea­tured in­creas­ingly. In Switzer­land, Al­fredo Häberli has col­lab­o­rated with the fur­ni­ture pro­duce Pfis­ter since 2009 as the cu­ra­tor of a new young col­lec­tion, ‘Ate­lier Pfis­ter’. This has en­abled him to open the door for var­i­ous younger Swiss de­sign­ers to pro­duce their first se­ri­ally man­u­fac­tured de­sign ob­jects. In 2012, he com­pleted the ex­ten­sive in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tion of the 25hours hotel in west Zurich. Häberli’s de­signs are in­creas­ingly being rec­og­nized in­ter­na­tion­ally, with col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Aus­tralian cos­met­ics man­u­fac­turer Aesop and the Ma­jor­can shoe man­u­fac­turer Camper, for ex­am­ple – for whom he has de­signed not only shoes, but also more than twenty bou­tiques in cities such as Malaga, Moscow, Tokyo and Bris­bane. The de­signer and his work have been fea­tured in spe­cial­ist jour­nals and in the pub­lic media all over the world. In 2006, he was Guest of Ho­n­our at the De­sign Bi­en­nale in Ko­r­trijk, Bel­gium. Al­fredo Häberli thus plays an ac­tive role not only as a suc­cess­ful and award-win­ning de­signer and in­te­rior de­signer, but also as an am­bas­sador for de­sign skill from Switzer­land.