Interview: Stefanie Hering

Stefanie Hering, Fotografie © Norman Posselt

Pascal Johanssen inter­views Stefanie Hering.

“Hering Berlin” has built up an inter­esting posi­tion over the last few years. Hering produces porce­lain at the highest level, on the level of the big tradi­tional porce­lain brands, gourmet restau­rants from all over the world are among the customers — but at the same time the manu­fac­tory is smaller than these tradi­tional compa­nies, so let’s say medium-sized.

I always wanted to work as a manu­fac­tory between the indi­vidual potter and the industry.

A diffi­cult middle ground, isn’t it?

The more turnover you get and also need to turn this wheel, the more you have to invest in sales and marketing and in produc­tion. One person can’t do that, you need a team. Finding good personnel is a compli­cated topic, many top people tend to go into industry. But there is a rela­tively new counter-trend in society — a return to the extra­or­di­nary nature of hand­crafted objects and the cultural tech­niques behind them. Suddenly, Manu Factum is once again an explicit social theme. And this is clearly reflected in the increased posi­tive response in the media and among buyers, collec­tors and lovers of our pieces.

In the public percep­tion in Germany, the craft of design tends to lead a shadowy exis­tence.

That’s just changing, but look at France or Japan, how they treat their people with respect. Young people in Germany who want a chance for advance­ment and recog­ni­tion in crafts often don’t find it here. It’s also the case that young people are already influ­enced in the direc­tion that it takes at least three years of study to achieve some­thing, careers lie else­where, hand­i­craft no longer exist in their vocab­u­lary. The recog­ni­tion in society has gone astray and only now is the very young gener­a­tion finding good ground again, who — and I find this highly inter­esting — are enthu­si­astic about sustain­ability and manu­fac­tory produc­tion.

Does the high quality of the luxury producers in general simply not meet with any under­standing here in the country?

What does that have to do with luxury? Manu­fac­to­ries produce things with a value that lasts for gener­a­tions. That is pure sustain­ability. If a student says it’s worth spending a lot of money on a cup because it gives him plea­sure all his life, then he doesn’t have to be rich. Of course I also need wealthy people to sell 100 of these cups in one fell swoop, other­wise we wouldn’t be able to survive.

Is it too much to give manu­fac­to­ries a kind of educa­tional mission in the sense of an aesthetic educa­tion?

I think we can say exactly that. Those things surround us. In the past, you learned to knit in elemen­tary school. If you have parents who don’t know how to hold a hammer in their hands, how can a child find out that they might later find a profes­sion where they can work with wood? There is no longer any contact with the mate­rial envi­ron­ment, we have sawn that off ourselves. We have to show the young gener­a­tion that there is some­thing else besides mobile phones. I think we even have a duty to do so.

Does the sale of Hering Berlin actu­ally take place at trade fairs?

Trade fairs have been a thing of the past for quite some time. The expenses are very high, they are out of propor­tion to the turnover you make with them. We have devel­oped a different strategy to be present in inter­na­tional design centres like Milan and Paris. We focus on exclu­sive small events with selected press, customers and collec­tors, where you can stage the “Hering Berlin” expe­ri­ence in an exciting atmos­phere.

What then remains as a sales strategy?

We act more selec­tively and more tailored to our target group — instead of trying to serve an entire market. We have to look for selected part­ners. And we have yet to do trade fairs, but only in those coun­tries where a network has already been estab­lished.

 

‘Cielo’, Stefanie Hering

The estab­lish­ment of inter­na­tional distri­b­u­tion struc­tures — at least with regard to manu­fac­to­ries — is not neces­sarily supported exten­sively by politi­cians.

I see nothing from the side of poli­tics. We need renewed pride in what is happening in our own country; these hand­i­craft enter­prises are ambas­sadors for the country. Manu­fac­to­ries and arti­sans hold “Made in Germany” high, we repre­sent what is not so easily inter­change­able. Espe­cially in the field of porce­lain, for example. Nowhere else in the world are there as many first-class porce­lain manu­fac­to­ries as in Germany. The Federal Govern­ment could appre­ciate this for once. Perhaps also very prac­tical: For micro-enter­prises the corpo­rate tax would have to be abol­ished. If we did not have to pay tax on our profits, many would be helped.

 

This interview is part of:
Handmade in Germany. Manufactory 4.0.
Editor: Pascal Johanssen
240 pages
Publisher: ARNOLDSCHE; Auflage: 1 (1. Juli 2019)
Languages: Englisch, Deutsch
ISBN-10: 3897905418
ISBN-13: 978–3897905412
Website:
https://www.heringberlin.com