Markus Jehs and Jürgen Laub both studied industrial design at the Schwabisch Gmund University in Germany, graduating in 1992. A friendship developed during an internship in New York in 1990, and four years later they co-founded design studio Jehs+Laub in Stuttgart. In the years since, they’ve designed furniture, tableware, lighting, and interiors for a range of companies including Cassina, Danskina, Fritz Hansen, and Mercedes-Benz.
Growing up in Germany, they were steeped in the Bauhaus tradition, and the design vocabulary of Jehs+Laub—whimsical, sculptural, and unique—is about staying true to the form, materials, and function of the object. “How a design looks should not be far from what it does,” Laub says. “So we resist styling. Parts of a design that are nice but not necessary fall away. Function brings its own aesthetic, and that has a high outcome.”
The alignment between this philosophy and Herman Miller’s own design DNA made for a natural partnership. “If you look at the Eames Soft Pad Group, the way the chairs are both handcrafted and industrial, this is very much Herman Miller,” Jehs says. “So what is already in the DNA of Herman Miller—starting in a very industrial way and then getting more human, more emotional in the expression of a design—that is something we very much want our furniture to achieve.”
Seeking partners that share common design values has always been important to the duo, as has their desire to learn from other cultures. While studying design in Germany rooted them in a certain school of thought, as Jehs reminisces, “The internship in the United States was a completely different world.” They’ve since sought consciously to work with clients from around the world who complement their perspective. “We realized that our German design sensibilities are very useful, but we are shaped by our experiences of other cultures, like Italian or American,” Laub says. “We always want to learn more. We are curious. In knowing others, we develop ourselves.”