One of nature’s most beguiling and beautiful gifts, Bodo Sperlein has long been fascinated with exploring the materiality of silver and how it can be creatively applied and evolved, as well as the historic techniques and traditions behind its use. In use for millennia, it’s a material that presents bounteous opportunity for advancement and experimentation.
“I feel that, as a designer, it’s my duty to fight for techniques that have taken thousands of years to establish,” Bodo explains in an interview with Hole & Corner magazine. “It’s an enormous responsibility. How can one generation decide these things? Why not combine the clever crafts with new methods for a completely new scope on the materiality? I’m not averse to new techniques, but I’m really interested in traditional materials and methods.”
Photography: Fabian Frinzel, Jon Day, Matteo Manduzio and Michael Donath.
Pushing the boundaries while honouring the history of natural materials such as precious metals, stone and timber is a key part of Bodo’s creative process. When the studio came to work with silver, research was paramount. What had the material been used for? How can it be reinvented? The metal itself provided the answers: its anti-bacterial properties - historically used for water purification - high durability, resistance to corrosion and wear, and malleability made it an ideal ingredient for Bodo’s designs.
Tane is a Mexican silverware brand with a reputation for extraordinary craftsmanship, for which Bodo acted as Creative and Strategic Consultant between 2014 and 2016, where he developed a deep understanding of silver and how he could implement it into his work. Bodo’s Tane collection reinstated silver into the sphere of contemporary design, creating a dialogue between the precious metal and other natural materials such as timber and volcanic stone, embodying Mexico’s long history with silver and bringing it into the 21st century with pieces such as the Symmetry salt and pepper mills, Atlas plate and Ravine bowl.
Bodo’s collaboration with one of Austria’s oldest silver manufactory Jarosinski & Vaugoin stemmed from his ongoing relationship with the city of Vienna, where the heritage brand has been based since 1847. Onda, Bodo’s table top conversation piece in sterling silver and fine glass, put silver firmly back on the agenda for a new generation of design lovers, a sculptural art piece bathed in wonder.
In an ever-changing, frenetic world, silver speaks of the past while connecting with the present moment and looking forwards for years to come. It's purity, splendour and fluidity make it a perfect fit for Bodo's design philosophy of elegance, timelessness and pure beauty.