On day three of Milan Design Week, in the buzzing temporary home of Danish design brand HAY, Shane Schneck and Clara von Zweigbergk were already flush with success—and very tired. The previous night was the soirée for Nike's "The Nature of Motion" exhibition for which they had designed a collection of experimental seating. The day prior, they had received Sweden's Bruno Mathsson Award.
Born in Sweden, von Zweigbergk studied illustration and graphic design before foraying into product design. Many of her pieces, like the colorful Artecnica Themis Mobile are inspired by a love of working with paper. Schneck, originally from Indiana, trained as an architect before working in industrial design, learning from some of the best in the business, including Patricia Urquiola.
Their journey together began in the early 2000s, when the pair met while working in Piero Lissoni's office; she in the graphic department and he in design. From there, the relationship blossomed into a fruitful partnership that has spanned everything from set to product design, to child rearing. How they've managed to maintain the elusive work-life relationship that one rarely sees outside of the architecture and design field (think Ray and Charles Eames or Florence and Hans Knoll), is a question that begs asking.
"I think very often we like very similar things, but we have very different approaches and we work in different ways," says von Zweigbergk. "But that’s also a strength." Sharing their Stockholm studio allows them to act as a sounding board for one another, even whilst working on individual projects. "We ask each other for advice, and we talk quite a lot about work…maybe a little bit too much," she added.
Creating the sets for HAY—owned by another work-life couple, Mette and Rolf Hay—for the past five years has been their most formative collaborative endeavor, say the pair, who have also directed and designed photo art for the company's catalogues. This also led to their being named 2016 Designers of the Year by Denmark’s RUM magazine. "They were going to celebrate their tenth anniversary and really wanted a fresh departure [from their past work]," says Schneck, whose Ru chair began the HAY relationship six years ago.
"We created this concept where all of the sets were exposed," says Schneck. "It was quite far away from what they had had before and what anyone was doing then," added von Zweigbergk. "I think it was so cool of them to say ‘Yeah, sure, let’s do it!'"
While the pair kept plans for future projects hush-hush (aside from upgrading to a larger studio), at least one independent project is currently in the works: Schneck’s Ommo line of affordable housewares, coming soon to a marketplace near you.
∙ Milan Design Week 2016: All News and Updates [Curbed]