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Peter Kaaden: SÜPERGRÜP

Work / Graphic Design

Seven questions for Süpergrüp – Germany’s new star-studded design collective

At TYPO Berlin last month, Süpergrüp formally announced its existence. Mirko Borsche, Johannes Erler, Lars Harmsen, Sarah Illenberger, Eike König, Mario Lombardo and Erik Spiekermann, the seven founding members, describe Süpergrüp as a platform for design “exploring the post-design era, where design is once again that quirky idea, that clever sketch, that weird question with that equally confusing answer.”

The website for Süpergrüp is now live and it is creating and crowd sourcing images that reference the distinctive ‘Ü’ in the collective’s name. We caught up with nominated spokesperson Johannes Erler to ask seven questions about the formation of the collective.

Why does the Süpergrüp exist and what do you hope it will achieve?

Süpergrüp is a result of our long term friendship. We all get along pretty well. Together we plan to do things/projects/products we normally couldn’t do because of being stuck in our own studios and daily businesses. We felt the need to uncage ourselves from the necessity of being commissioned by clients. We want to establish SÜPERGRÜP as a design label for art and design and as an attitude for thoughtful contemporary design, with responsibility for a life worth living. And we want to have fun!

What sort of projects are you/will you be working on?

Süpergrüp is a platform for design. A creative gallery that showcases the work and products of both successful designers and promising young talents, in an exclusive and intimate way.

Besides this, Süpergrüp is a think tank that develops projects and products for institutes and companies and is a source of inspiration that imparts ideas and thoughts in presentations, workshops and summer schools.

There will, for example, be a first three-day poster workshop with Swiss poster design icon Nicolaus Troxler and Lars in Berlin (for more info email Lars).

What sort of role will you each take in the group?

We are designers, writers, organizers, businesspeople and friends. All these skills are coming together. Johannes and Lars plan the roadmap.

Who’s the leader of Süpergrüp?

We understand ourselves as a collective. But Erik is probably the wisest.

Is there a Süpergrüp headquarters? How do you organise meetings with each other?

Our business headquarters are in Hamburg because Johannes lives there. Sarah, Eike, Mario and Erik live in Berlin, Lars and Mirko live in Munich.

So it’s a magic triangle. All of these cities are important for us and have their unique qualities. In daily business we mail or Skype. We often meet at conferences, on juries or extremely important dinners.

We will also establish a yearly creative meeting lasting several days to plan activities.

What does working together allow you to do that working separately doesn’t?

It’s all about mutual inspiration, pushing each other, using our common networks and having more fun. We realised that if one of us has a good idea there is at least one additional spark from another bringing the project to a higher level. That’s splendid!

Will there be any future members of the Süpergrüp or is membership closed?

The core group is fixed at the moment. But we want to collaborate with as many colleagues, designers and artists as we can – in the gallery, for workshops and for other activities. So everyone can be a member of the Süpergrüp idea  –  if they fit in. And if they accept to carry a new middle name starting with Ü.

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