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Berlin Brief

5 Questions With Michael Keller, Founder of KMS BLACKSPACE

March 30, 2015

Michael is founder and owner of KMS BLACKSPACE GmbH in Munich, an independent design company dedicated to reinventing unique brand experiences. Michael’s work is a synonym for magnitude and inspiration and moves people in places from London, to New York, Shanghai and Seoul. He speaks frequently on the future of design and is widely recognised as a creative instigator on the international design scene. Among his many international awards are those for Audi, O2, Lamborghini, Voestapline and 7 World Trade Center. Most recently the »Neue Sammlung« (The International Design Museum) in Munich organised an exhibition of Michael's work.

1. You’re known for creating mind-blowing brand experiences, such as Audi ‘The Edge of Progress’. From your point of view, what is most important to truly engage with a brand?

Three factors: Mindset. Love. Motion. The first thing you need is a profound understanding of a brand, to really know its strengths and weaknesses. Second, an attitude of love is crucial for success. If you want to create something great, you have to love your products, your costumers and your team. Finally, and maybe most important to me, is that you have to be in motion constantly. Try to change your point of view as often as possible and be open to reinventing yourself everyday. Sounds like a tough job, but actually one can get addicted to the process, and to move beyond what is expected from you.

2. How do you identify a successful design concept? 

If all elements of a design concept merge together to one unique experience and if you can describe it with only one sentence or one thumbnail – that to me is the absolute definition of successful design. Design is not democratic. It has to be done by somebody who is committed to knowledge, courage and ethics; and aligns the team to the same vision.

3. Do you feel design has already lived up to its true potential? Or would you rather say we have only just now entered a world in which design will play a much more significant role?

I believe we are on the verge of a creative revolution. The Vice President of the most valuable and desirable brand is a creative professional: Jonathan Ive from Apple. And it’s not a surprise. The surprising thing is that everyone copies their products, but no one is copying their business structure. A successful team is led by someone who acts like a virus, infusing the ideas but connecting them to the real world – someone who has the skills and knowledge of how big ideas are built.

4. Can design change the world?

Design has already changed the world and will do even more so in the future. Design gives form and structure to what you experience everyday. In most fields, “left brainers” run the business world. And they do that by logical thinking, analyzing and planning resources, processes and people. There is nothing wrong about that. But we also need the „right brainers“. We need people who think analog, emotional and sensitive. Only if we balance both parts, can we change the world.

5. If you would have to name 3 trends in future design, what would you say?

Experience, Experience, Experience. We do not divide design in communication, architecture, product, interior or hospitality anymore. Everyday a new design-field is popping up and the borders between them are becoming more and more seamless. This is the future of design and how brands will make magic happen.