Interview with Benjamin Hubert

Focused on the present to improve the future (and vice versa), Benjamin Hubert created in September last year Layer, that as they describe is the ‘evolution of Benjamin Hubert design agency’. An evolution focused on using design as a tool to both improve quality of people’s lives and also help businesses to grow.

Layer is made up of various different skills set but mostly industrial designers. They are a flexible and passionate young team, and they have the key ingredients to join successful projects.



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Layer Design Studio


The main goal of Layer is to design what user really need thinking on creating more than products an experience. The concern of Layer about using design to improve people lives and the strong personality of Benjamin Hubert made us want to talk with him about the brand and design.


‘Designers has a responsability
to use design for what is for:
to solve problems’




Do you think that this kind of evolution is a necessary evolution in the field of design?

I don´t know. I think for me is more a responsibility. Designers have a responsibility to actually use the skills and tools they have, a developing to use design for what is for: Pretty much solving problems. There’s lot of awareness now about what design is, and the role it plays. We have more and more stuff in our lives that we are questioning more and more. So I think design is more heavily scrutinized now, and there are many more platforms to scrutinized it through. So I do think that there is a little bit of a shift in understanding but I still don’t think there are many designers that are responding to that shift.


In an interview with Dezeen a couple of years ago, you mentioned that a ‘designer’s name is incredibly powerful’, that ‘designers really need to focus on their own name because now is all about brand’. What has changed since then?

For me it’s about controlling your point of view. Actually, I´m as passionate about the brand of Layer as I was involved in promoting the previous company name, and I guess my name. For us it’s about positioning and communication. So we work really really hard on telling the right stories, on communicating properly, on having a platform in order to talk about values we think are really important. And we can’t do that through other companies. Other companies will produce our work and we work with them, but most of the time we control most of our communication ourselves. So, for me it´s about controlling your own destiny a little bit, but also being able to develop a platform where you can talk through about important issues that you can work on. And no one else is going to do that for you.


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Your projects include a wide range of fields: industrial design, ethnographic research, mechanical and electrical research and branding. They don’t seem to have much in common, but do they? What do you think they have in common?

They have everything in common! Design is not about designing a simple thing or it should not be about designing a product. It should be about designing an experience. When you design an experience, every single touch point that somebody interacts with is seen.

Everything from how somebody goes into a store, they see the branding, they see it online, they interact with the website, the services, the purchasing, the platform, they pick up a product, they use a product, they talk to other people about it, they review it, they then dispose it, they recycle it…Design is about that whole experience. Enables to touch the branding, the industrial design, the interface design, the service design, how it is engineered for a high performance. You need to be able to do all those things in order to deliver a great experience.


Could we say that there is a particular philosophy in your work, or is every project different?

For us it’s about delivering experiences with meaning really, and understanding who is using it, why they are using it… And deliver a holistic experience. We hope it makes a difference.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

‘Design is not about designing a simple thing or it should not be about design a product. It should be about designing an experience’




How do you make the decision of accepting a particular assignment?

Normally I look for a challenge. Something where we can do something new and exciting, where we can offer something of value that doesn’t already exist on the market. It has to be added value for me.  The reason that we do a project is because we think we can improve on its predecessor we can open up new market opportunities or we can help growing businesses and it has to be tangible challenge for us to be able to tackle in order to use our skills and our approach to make a difference.


How does it feel to design for big brands like Nike, Samsung, Braun…? Do you have all the freedom you need in you work?

Every single project has a different set of constraints. So some projects are more open, some are more constraint, but all of them have a very exciting, engaging opportunity inside to do something great. Every time you get a project is a different challenge so it’s difficult for me to make a general comment about it. But for us what is exciting is a great challenge: it can be the smaller start-up brand or the largest company in the world. It’s about the nature of the challenge. It’s not necessarily about the size to the brand.


The modular system Scale shows your commitment to democratic design (economic, modular…) on the one hand, and the need to recycle materials on the other side. Which characteristics do you consider to be more important in a material?

For me, the most important thing is the functional performance of the material. Does It make using the product easier, better… How does it look and feel? Does it make it look happy? Does it make it feel great? Does it make an emotionally response to the product? Is it cost-effective? Is it good to produce? Is it going to be at the right price on the market? Is it going to deliver those three touch-points?



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Scale by Layer for Woven Image



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 [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Some months ago you presented ‘To Go’, the first 3D printed wheelchair, custom-made. You have been working on this project for two years, what are your memories of the designing process and the making of this project?

It was a very challenging project. We talked a lot of people about it, about a lot of issues, a very emotionally charged issues and then the long process was an understanding: what we can do, how we can do it, and the best way to deliver that project was extremely demanding but very exciting. When you work on a category that needs a lot of improvement, and as a designer you can offer a lot of benefits to the user that now don’t really exist, it’s a really fascinating and great project to work on. We’re really happy with the project, we are still working on things in that direction. For me it was like a great journey, a very interesting project to explore.


Did LayerLAB start as a consequence of this project?

Yeah. Basically we decided to set up a division to help us have a platform to decide what will be happening next in the world. It can be any type of thing: it can be no products at all, it can be a service or it can be extremely hard work. We are working on lots of exciting projects.


How does this new division work?

It basically works around research. We are constantly researching and thinking about how we work, how we live, how are we going to live next, how the world is changing and how the tools in our lives can make those changes and transitions easier, better, happier and healthier for everybody involved in the project. For us is like a full casting and thinking what is happening next in the world.


‘I think designers should be focusing on those products that can have more impact in people’s live and not just more nice things to have.’




We know you have a strong opinion about design, so what is your opinion about design now? Should something be different?

Yes. I think designers should be thinking about the types of products they are working on and how many and what type. And be focusing on the large amount of those that can have more impact in people’s live and not just more nice things to have. Really the necessary tools for living, especially in parts of the world that need that more than others.


How responsible do you think the designer is as to know the difference between what the client wants and what the client needs?

Your job is a media. As a designer your job is to focused in both things. It is important to satisfy both.



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Go by Layer for Materialise

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Taking in to account that many young designers want to work as a group and have their studios, it would be interesting for us to know about the difficulties of the process. Could you give some advice to these young designers?

I think go and work for an agency, learn about your trade, develop your skill before start on your own.


In which city do you think that the latest trends in design are taking place now? Where would you like to present a project and why?

Everywhere. The world is a fast moving place, it is not just happening only in one spot. Everywhere something exciting and new and dinamic is happening. Is a global community. There a lot of exciting things happening in India, China, South America, but there are also great start-ups and new industries growing in Europe, so it´s a global community.


What does More with Less mean to you? Is it somehow reflected in what you do?

Yeah, More with Less is better isn’t it? The More you can do with Less is better than what came before. It is a detail run matter basically, it’s the materialization, that’s for better.




 Interview: Angela Montagud & Jordi Iranzo

Traslation: Miren Leon