High Tower

Studio Hannes Wettstein


Hannes Wettstein (1958-2008) was one of the most innovative and influential designers in Switzerland. His background alone did not follow a standard pattern. Born in 1958, Wettstein completed an apprenticeship as a structural engineering draughtsman and then trained himself as a designer and architect. He was fascinated by technological developments as well as art history and architecture. In his own words, he questioned all norms, social, industrial, cultural and ritual, in order to discover something new. This absoluteness was not an attitude but a methodology. His willingness to always rethink everything led him to create surprisingly simple solutions that outlasted time. Pure, unspectacular, functional design was the stamp of his lights and furniture. Again and again he returned to sleek forms and classic modern lines. He designed elegant and perfect objects for daily use that maintained their identity and remained timeless even in changing flow of fashion. The themes of life were more important to him than his success. He understood design as a socio-political process.

He was not just interested in form alone, but in the big picture. In his eyes, design was a strategy for understanding the world, making statements and, in some fields, influence entire subject areas. Hannes Wettstein is responsible for the interior design of the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Potsdamer Platz in Berlin and, in collaboration with Steven Holl’s New York-based architectural studio, he designed the interior of the Swiss Embassy in Washington. His designs can also be seen in the world of high tech, he was fascinated by technical innovation and perfection. He designed high-power binoculars for Zeiss, loudspeakers offering max-quality sound for Piega and a digital watch for Ventura, complete with memory chip for personal data. In this way, he combined things in completely new ways, he gave things new properties and developed hybrid product forms in the process. The comprehensive way in which he helped designed the world lives on today in the company he founded in 1991, Studio Hannes Wettstein.