Interview with Kurt Merki Jr, Bottle Designer from Scent of Africa

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Kurt Merki Jr

Kurt Merki Jr believes design to be an intelligent pursuit of solutions and his artistic endeavors are reflected in his work as an owner of a studio whom designs for brands and companies worldwide.

Interview With The 2023 NY Product Design Awards Winner – Kurt Merki Jr

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your background.
I am of mixed Swiss and Ghanaian heritage and I grew up in Ghana before continuing my studies in Switzerland. I initially pursued carpentry, then ventured into interior architecture, industrial design, and architecture, all based in Zurich. Since 2009, I have been running my own studio, where I design for brands and companies worldwide.
2What made you become/why did you choose to become a product designer?
Rather than confining myself to a single title like product designer, architect or interior designer, I consider myself a creator who brings ideas to life.
3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.
At our studio in Zurich, our goal is to be the missing link that brings our clients' visions to fruition. We have had the privilege of creating a chocolate museum, retail shops around the world, bathroom faucet series and even a yacht design.
4What does “design” mean to you?
Design is an intelligent pursuit of solutions. This intelligence can be seen in proportions, aesthetics, and material combinations, but above all, it must solve a problem; otherwise, it is useless and devoid of meaning.
5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?
I don't have a favorite type of design. For me, the thrill lies in the challenge of solving problems and generating new ideas.
6To you, what makes a “good” design?
Good design tackles problems directly and in the simplest way possible.
7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.
I strive to steer clear of mere style and instead focus on providing effective solutions.
8Tell us about your design process.
My design process primarily begins with conversations and observations. Out of this blend of contemplation and interaction, my intuition takes over. The specific process may vary depending on the project.
9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?
Certainly, some things I am consciously aware of, while others reside in my subconscious.
10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2023 NY Product Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
It is truly an honor and a pleasure to be recognized for one's hard work and dedication in creating a product.
11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 NY Product Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

The process was straightforward and clear. As a Ghanaian (African) brand entering the international design market, it was a significant step for us. I designed a bottle that stands proud and unites the brand with the future in its architectural avant-garde design. The perfume cap in the shape of the continent at the top is an invitation to return to our roots.

When it is looked at from above, the shape of Africa can be glimpsed which looks as if it is projected above the sphere of Earth, embodied by the bottle’s body. Entering this project gives me an opportunity to showcase my work as well as the Scent of Africa brand which has a unique purpose of highlighting Africa to the world. Therefore, this award has granted us recognition and reaffirmed that we are on the right path.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?
The design underwent several iterations in the quest for the perfect balance suitable for both men and women. It took time to crystallize the final version for the Eternal Legends Collection.
13How has winning an award developed your practice/career?
Winning this award has brought us a wealth of positive feedback and it continues to pour in.
14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
The constant challenge of generating fresh ideas, the diversity of products, and the act of creating something from scratch are all immensely rewarding.
15What makes your country specifically, unique in the design industry?
Switzerland and Ghana together create a harmonious blend of expertise, innovation, and cultural exchange, ensuring that our work maintains the highest standards of quality while embracing the richness of global collaboration.
16Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?
My hope is that we prioritize nature and build in harmony with what our planet offers us.
17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring NY Product Design Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?
In essence, it boils down to working hard, staying focused, and persevering.
18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?
Maintain curiosity about your surroundings and constantly question why things are the way they are.
19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
On a lighter note, I must admit that I'm not particularly fond of writing emails :-)
20Who has inspired you in your life and why?
My father deserves recognition for his unwavering perseverance.
21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
There are no shortcuts to achieving excellent results.
22Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?
I genuinely love what I do and wake up each day excited to go to the office. However, the journey to reach this point has been long and challenging. So, keep pushing forward, work hard, and strive to achieve your goals.

Winning Entry

Scent of Africa | 2023

Scent of Africa
SCENT OF AFRICA is a fine fragrance house made in Ghana. The perfumes are made locally, and are …
(Read more at NY Product Design Awards)

Kurt Merki Jr

Kurt Merki Jr believes design to be an intelligent pursuit of solutions and his artistic endeavors are reflected in his work as an owner of a studio whom designs for brands and companies worldwide.

Read more about this interview with Tzuhsiang Lin from United States, the Silver Winner of the 2023 NY Product Design Awards.