Bernhard Lenger | Studio Bernhard Lenger

‘I can enjoy seeing or using a well-made coffee machine, but I will not design one myself.’ Bernhard Lenger (1991) is a socially engaged designer. For him it is not about furniture or fashion, but about creating real change. ‘In this field Eindhoven is a frontrunner, a breeding place.’

Provocative tool

Think about the oil pollution in the Niger delta, large-scale deforestation of the Amazon, the disaster with the Fukushima nuclear reactor. We have international laws against genocide and institutions like the International Criminal Court in The Hague, but why not have an international law against ecocide - the severe destruction of our ecosystem? Bernhard Lenger graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2016 with a design for a public awareness campaign to support this idea. ‘For me design is not only about objects, beauty and form, it is a source of inspiration for all kinds of fields and topics,’ says Bernhard. ‘I see design as a provocative tool to raise questions and discover new solutions to make the world a better place.’

"I like the typical Dutch experimental attitude.”

Professional attitude

Bernhard was born and raised in the south of Austria, close to the Italian and Slovenian border, and graduated from the Higher Technical School for Mechanical Engineering (specialisation Industrial Design) in Ferlach. For one year he worked as a user interface designer and then decided to continue his education at Design Academy Eindhoven. ‘I wanted more than just producing practical things. I wanted to know and learn more about creativity and concepts.’ 

For his graduation project ‘This is ecocide’ he received the René Smeets Award for most professional attitude. ‘It was a tough discussion with the jury – I had to convince them that this project is also within the reach of design.’

Human rights

‘During our study we think of interesting concepts, do relevant projects and create beautiful objects. We get a lot of attention at the Graduation Show during Dutch Design Week, and nice articles in magazines and newspapers – but then nothing really happens,’ says Bernhard, expressing some of his doubts. ‘Why not do things that have a real impact, that create real change?’ By now he has initiated the project ‘We are Human Rights’ in cooperation with the foundation Justice & Peace in The Hague. Seven human rights defenders from different countries are linked to seven designers, also from different countries but all based in The Netherlands, mainly Eindhoven. Through the creation of new solutions and tools, these designers hope to create better understanding in the fields of international law and human rights. The kick off took place during Dutch Design Week 2017, and the results will be on show in December 2018, as part of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948-2018).

Experimental attitude

Bernhard sees it as the start of a collective, to take on other topics as well. He enjoys working together with other designers and professionals and shares a studio and work space with colleagues at Sectie C in Eindhoven. ‘The collective Collaboration-O inspired other designers at Sectie C to create forms of cooperation. It is nice to share tools, experience and expertise.’

He also enjoys being based in Eindhoven. ‘Here design is not only about furniture and fashion, many young designers have this typical Dutch experimental attitude. In general – also in Austria – most people think more conservative about design. In this sense Eindhoven is a frontrunner. The city offers affordable place for living and working and a lot of possibilities to develop yourself and build up networks. It’s a breeding place. With good connections - although it’s not a global city you certainly don’t feel locked up here.’

Bernhard Lenger is an Austrian designer based in Eindhoven. View his website Bernhard Lenger.