Designer and art educator
Born in Wolfsburg in 1966, Michael Lehner studied German language and literature and art education in Kassel and Braunschweig and industrial design at Braunschweig and Berlin Weißensee art universities. From 1996 to 2000 he worked as a freelance designer at Atelier Werk in Berlin and was the head of the design department at Nils Holger Moormann in Aschau im Chiemgau up until 2004. Since 2005 he has been working as a freelance designer in Berlin, where he holds a teaching position at the University of the Arts.
“There is actually no typical way for a designer to work and especially not if you work freelance. Unless there is an order where the client has a pretty firm idea of what they want to have, it is often coincidences that provide inspiration. You have a basic idea germinating inside you for a long time and you carry it around with you in your mind. You continually put off the moment that you begin to work on it and look for substitution activities. Tidying, cleaning, shopping, answering emails etc. until finally the pressure becomes so great that you simply have to begin. During this time your thoughts continue to revisit this idea again and again, you make short notes and sketches and it begins to take on a life of its own. So – wait and think, keep mulling it over in your mind and distract yourself. It doesn’t matter if it is playground equipment or any other product; the reason I became a designer can be attributed to the fact that I like to design things for other people that give them pleasure while they are using it or things which are simply practical.”
The inspiration for the Wobbly Sheep came through a coincidence. The Viennese landscape artist Jakob Fina saw a stool in a furniture store in Vienna, which Lehner had designed in the mid 90s. The rolling stool is called La Vaca and has a very minimalist body form, is covered with cow hide and has two wooden horns to hold on to. He rang up Lehner and asked him to design something similar for a park in Vienna. That’s how the Wobbly Sheep came into being. Its form is very orientated on the stool but instead of the rollers it was given a tilting mechanism for the legs.