Multidisciplinary designer Joa Herrenknecht was born in Saskatoon, Canada, in 1980, and raised in southwestern Germany. She studied product design at Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung (University of Arts and Design) in Karlsruhe, Germany, under designers Voker Albus, Stefan Diez, and James Irvine. She graduated in 2010 with a diploma. From 2006-2007, while still a student, Herrenknecht worked as an assistant at Studio Patricia Urquiola in Milan. After graduating from HfG Karlsruhe, she worked as a design assistant at Studio Dror in New York City. In 2011, Herrenknecht enrolled in a post-baccalaureate graphic and packaging design program at Shillington College in Sydney, Australia, earning a certificate that same year.
Herrenknecht returned to Germany in 2012. The following year, she launched Studio Joa Herrenknecht in Berlin’s Friedrichshain neighborhood. In 2017, she relocated to the Kreuzberg neighborhood. Herrenknecht focuses on product and furniture design, art direction, and design consulting. In recent years, she has also begun to take on interior design projects for a range of clients. In addition to her self-driven work, Herrenknecht’s clients include companies such as Design Within Reach, Bolia, and others, as well as private customers. Her work is characterized by clean, minimal lines and evocative colors and materials. As Herrenknecht tells us, “I want my work to surprise and evoke feelings.” Further, she says, “I try to design timeless things, products that can be enjoyed and used over a long period of time. I like to think of design items as things that enhance your home and make you smile and feel good—the way flowers have an impact on the atmosphere of a room. I believe that products have an aura and can influence our perception.”
Standout projects to date include: Piero (2016/2017), a side table designed for Bolia composed of marble, steel, and leather, inspired by “old Italian aperitivo bars;” Ora (2016/2017), a series of table mirrors in marble and treated, aged silver mirror that feel at once nostalgic and current; Panna (2016), a shell-like pendant lamp composed of colored cork leather; Nani (2015/2016), a wooden bench with eco-friendly organic salmon leather padding; and Onda (2015-2017), a series of table lamps with spherical, rotating shades that resemble a magic hat balancing on a stick.
As of this writing, Studio JoaHerrenknecht has been awarded multiple honors, including: a “Best of Houzz – Design” title (Germany, 2017); “Designtalent 2017” selected by A&W Magazine and Kaldewei; inclusion in German AD Magazine’s “Best 50 German Designers 2016” list; title of “Young Gun / Designer to Watch” from Dwell Magazine (New York, 2016); and a Best Independent Designer honor from French magazine L’Officiel (Paris 2015). Further, her very first product, a lamp collection called Nest, received a Red Dot Award (2012), and her 2017 Onda table lamp earned a Silver title from the European Product Design Award jury. The studio has participated in presentations at several design festivals and institutions, such as Salone Satellite in Milan (2013, 2014, 2015), Ventura Lambrate (2016), IMM Cologne (2016), the Material Revolution exhibition in Jönköping, Sweden (2016), Design Miami (2015), Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art (MUDAM) in Luxembourg (2015), and IMM Cologne ‘D3 Talents’ (2014), among others. Her carpet ISLA was included in the 2017 exhibition Best of 20 years Salone Satellite in Milan, Italy.