In conversation with: Wolfram Putz

GRAFT, Berlin

Your company, Graft, has made a name for itself not just with its architecture but with severalspectacular interior designs. What importance do light switches have for you?

Wolfram Putz: One shouldn’t underestimate the significance of a light switch, as it offers a sensory or rather holistic experience thanks to its visual and haptic qualities. Alongside door handles and washstand mixers, it is one
of the few products which forge a direct link between user and building.

What standards do you set for a good switch?

Wolfram Putz:
For us, in addition to the aestheticproperties, it is key that the switch be timeless, simply be a classic. For the light switch and power sockets are among those things in a building that only very rarely get replaced. Even door handles get changed more often. This may have to do with the higher investment costs, but also with the fact that you cannot install them yourself. Even if you do the complete outfit of your home yourself, the electrics always get installed by an electrician.

“One shouldn’t underestimate the significance of a light switch, as it offers a sensory or rather holistic experience thanks to its visual and haptic qualities.”

Let’s move on to the LS 990 – why do you find it so impressive?

Wolfram Putz: To my mind, the JUNG switch is a successful example of an object for everyday use that, in line with the Bauhaus philosophy, has been pared down to its true essence, to the absolute essentials, and can thus be used in the most diverse architectural settings. We can deploy the system in an extremely organic interior design just as we can rely on it in relatively sober, precise and minimalist surrounds. We ourselves as architects cover a broad array of typologies and designs and we can use the switches everywhere. What we find so convincing is the product design itself: its angular shape, its visual precision and its details.

A true classic by Graft, an interior with a truly organic feeling, where you use the LS 990, is the KU 64 dental practice in Berlin, commissioned in 2005. What was the underlying designconcept for it?

Wolfram Putz: The practice plays with the expectations of people who go to the dentist. To allay their fears of what lies ahead, it not only looks completely unlike conventional practices, but also provides an utterly different atmosphere. As soon as patients step through the door they enter an artificial world in which curved shapes and vibrant yellow-orange colours bring dunes and thus beaches to mind. This kindles curiosity and
a sense of playfulness and thus serves to distract. At the same time, it’s all very open and spacious, quite unlike the usual constricting confines. Today, patients can still see from one end of the loft to the other. The individual cubicles where treatment is provided are more relaxed thanks to glass slits, and yet intimacy is preserved. The patient lying on the dentist’s chair cannot be seen from outside but as soon as he or she stands up, there’s an impression of transparency. All in all, it is an interior architecture that everyone can grasp – specialists and laypersons alike.

What were your criteria when choosing the range of switches for the practice?

Wolfram Putz:
First of all, we needed very high-grade switches that fulfilled a kind of promise of precision. After all, a dentist works with high-quality materials and precise instruments. And alongside the very expensive dentist’schairs we wanted to place switches that were their equals. Moreover, we wanted something timeless. Our design at the time was completely new and some considered it simply a fashionable gesture. Whereas we were from the outset convinced we had created something that would endure. Looking back, the success proves us right. The practice has since spread through the building, and we’ve just finished commissioning the third expansion phase.

The interview was conducted by Christian Schittich, architect and specialist author.

KU64, Berlin - Architect: GRAFT Berlin - Fitted with JUNG LS 990 in white. © HIEPLER, BRUNIER