Did you always want to be a designer? “As a kid, I had certain aspirations of being an architect or artist. I didn’t even know that design was a profession. I discovered it when I did an apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker. First, I restored old furniture, then I was trained to make furniture and, through this, I discovered design.”

What was your career-defining moment? “My first industrial product made by an injection-moulding machine was the 2-Hands laundry basket [for German brand Authentics], made of very thin plastic. I wanted to go against a lot of plastic products because they’re usually made in a very economical way, so they use little material and are ugly. My product became a pure application of the material, allowing it to be what it is – thin, flexible, soft and light. It’s still in production, even though it’s more than 20 years old.”

Tell us about your Chair One design for Magis, one of your most well-known creations. “I don’t like to be reduced to one chair, but, of course, I realise it is the most recognisable design because it has a certain kind of power and success. It is a chair that goes to quite an extreme and I like that extreme because it’s the result of a radical process. The project started with a material technology: aluminium die casting.

“Aluminium doesn’t corrode and I thought we should make a chair that is for outdoors because I wanted to design it for public use. We have to deal with elements like heat, cold, dirt and vandalisation.”

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Do you have a particular person in mind when you design something? “Since I work for industry, I never know who the end user is going to be. I have to almost create imaginary characters of people I know. It’s like a child’s game where you make creatures out of the head of one animal, the torso of another and the legs of a third. In the end, it helps me to have a ‘real person-creature’ in mind, understanding exactly how that person would interact with the piece of furniture I design.”

Tell us about your 360° chair. “The 360° is a chair you can sit on in whatever way you want. Of course, there are more comfortable postures and less-comfortable postures. It’s a work chair that is meant for a job where you sit down for a short while – I don’t want anyone to sit on this from nine to five. It’s more like a perch, a support, but I still call it a chair.”

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How do you maintain your passion? “Furniture is my great passion. It’s some­thing that is central to my studio and at the core of what I enjoy most. But in order to protect that love, I need to also distract myself and do other things only to come back to it. With the thing we really like to do, ­we must make sure to never overdo it.”

Konstantin Grcic – Panorama, which showcases the designer’s work over the past two decades, runs until April 2 at the Hong Kong Design Institute.