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Foundation: Jan Herbst

Sharing lunch box with five compartments
Sharing lunch box with five compartments
Work by Jan Herbst
Written by
Teleri Lloyd-Jones
Published date
25 April 2019

As we celebrate the 2019 Foundation Show, we talk to students about their year, their work and their future plans.

How has your Foundation year been?

I knew I wanted to do Product Design but I did the Foundation year to see if it’s something I can imagine doing for the rest of my life. I’ve seen many sides of it, and of course I need to learn a lot more, but it’s shown me that it’s what I want to do.

It’s gone so fast; it felt like I just arrived and now the year is ending. I’ve really enjoyed the level of experimentation and openness. Some of the projects in the first term are just a day long, you’re really thrown into it.

How did you define what your final project was going to be?

It’s all about food. For a while at college, I lived that “meal deal life” – it felt unhealthy, the cost adds up and you’re left with a pile of rubbish. So I started a lunch club with a group of five people where each person was responsible for bringing in lunch for the group on a designated day.

Lunch with a meal deal you don’t really enjoy it, it’s fuel for the rest of the day. But with the lunch club we sat and talked together. We ate interesting food and I eat more vegetarian food now as a result. My tutor said it was the first time in a while that she hadn’t worked over lunch. That inspired me to continue with the concept.

Work in progress
Work in progress, Jan Herbst

And what was the final outcome?

I was a bit lost at first. I had a vision in my head but didn’t know how to execute it. To explore ideas, we had a workshop that challenged us to make a model within a day. I had a water bottle and was experimenting with it, transforming it and somehow it reminded me of the springform mechanism. What if I used a springform with containers inside that can act as a bag? I developed that into the final piece – five equal compartments held within the frame. It’s designed for an office environment but it’s also perfect for a picnic.

I put quite a lot of effort into my model making; I enjoy the hands-on aspect. Initially, I made a cardboard model and spray-painted it however, bugs were sticking to the surface... it was pure sadness. I’m quite the perfectionist. So instead I 3D-printed the containers, used aluminium for the shell and finished the design off with a handle made from webbing. I wanted the design to be simple and beautiful while being practical for everyday use. The design is a statement for what lunch could be like.


The object is essentially a nudge to encourage the activity?

Yes. In product design problems are often solved but sometimes it’s just about making the world a bit of a better place. You don’t need a lunchbox for sharing, there’s no necessity, but as an object it does tackle cost, waste and encourage us to be more social. It’s sending a message about getting out there and starting a lunch club.

What have been your influences on this project?

I looked a lot at camping equipment, brands like Snow Peak or Trangia. And I really like Joseph Joseph, they’re BA Product Design alumni. They make clean, beautiful and functional products. You look at the product and you know it’s Joseph Joseph.

Jan Herbst is returning to Central Saint Martins to study BA Product Design this September.

This year the Central Saint Martins Foundation Show – on public show 26-28 April – reaches further than ever before with two sites: one inside at the Lethaby Gallery in King’s Cross and the other outside at Waterlow Park in Archway.