After spending much of her childhood in her family’s cabinetmaking shop, being trained in the fields of textiles, products, and furniture design, and working in partnerships for a decade, Barbara Gollackner has had her own studio in Salzburg since 2018. Her concepts demonstrate how design must dare to look beneath an attractive surface. In addition to classic interior design and product design for private and commercial clients, Barbara has nurtured a particular preference for conceptual work at the intersection of a wide variety of disciplines. Her zest for networking, sharing knowledge and experience, and curiosity about new methods and materials occupy the foreground.
Where did the idea for your studio come from?
Europeans throw away 90 Mio Tons of food per year and at the same time we use nearly 30 Mio Tons of single-use-tableware. When I read those facts one day the idea for “Wasteware“ started growing in my head – what if we connect those two issues and try to find a solution for one with the help of the other?
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I get up very early – at around 5:45 – and start the day sitting in my silent kitchen with the perfect cup of cappuccino, thinking about the upcoming day and what it will bring for me before the regular busy family mornings start. (I have three kids)
At around 8:30 I reach my Studio in the heart of Salzburg (usually by bike) and start the workday with the same procedure again – having a cup of coffee with my friend and colleague Peter, talking about upcoming tasks, keeping us updated. There is absolutely no routine in my working hours since my job as a product designer is so versatile (which I LOVE about it) – on some days I have appointments, on some days I sit 6 hours in front of my computer, on some days I take my sketchbook and put my chair on the pavement in front of the studio, working in the sun.
Since I have three kids I hardly ever work 8 hours in a row – I usually spend my afternoons with them, in busy times starting work again on evenings and I guess at least for me that’s a key to being productive: I don’t have endless hours to work so I use my precious worktime very productively. And in between I take time to do other things and recreate.
How do you bring ideas to life?
That sounds very trivial but I think its true passion for the idea and concentrated, hard work – having a special and creative idea is important but only the starting point. I am working on the “Wasteware“ project for more than two years now and endless hours of research, trials, errors, experimenting, starting all over again. You have to dive deep, be willing to go a long way and this happens only if you are passionate about something.
What’s one trend that excites you?
3D printing in all varieties has been a quantum leap for every designer – suddenly we are able to check our designs IRL easily, produce small collections and work much more independent. And so called “new materials“ – I am curious and excited about all the new developments in the last time – I am sure we will have a revolution of materials in the next years and our grandchildren will wonder what that plastic-thing was all about.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Due to the fact that I have to organise my life as an entrepreneur and my life as a single mum of three kids I am the best in time-management…..give me a day with hundreds of appointments and I will still get it done..;)
What advice would you give your younger self?
There are things in life you can’t force – no matter how much you want it and no matter how hard you work for it. Some things need the right moment to happen.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
If you want to have a successful professional career you have to be ready to make huge sacrifices. It is not nice to hear, but it is the ugly truth.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Take care of yourself. It is one of the responsibilities as an entrepreneur to take care of yourself, set your boundaries, take time for yourself. No one else will do it for you and your business is only doing as good as you are.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Sorry, no strategies, no advice. I just worked on the projects I found interesting and I felt capable of. I am not a very strategic person.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Working for no or too little money, being shy and ashamed of asking for proper payment for my work. I overcame it because I simply had to make a living for me and my family – one day I understood that either I I face this issue. or I go and get another job, and suddenly it worked out.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The Design-Emergency Room – an open, time-limited consultation possibility for small design questions like “which chairs should I choose for my 100 year old table“.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The Bamboo-Rafting tour on a jungle-river in Thailand with my kids. I love to see the world and I want my children to experience the beauty of foreign surroundings and understand how differently people live around the world. I strongly believe that this is the key to a respectful, grateful and tolerant life.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
This is not very original but cloud storage has changed everything for me – especially when it comes to interior design there are so many situations when you are out of office and need some information in the very same minute – I could not work in that field without it.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
This is a super tough question for me since you will never find me without a book and it is nearly impossible for me to choose one. But workwise and regarding the topic of „new materials“ I would totally recommend “Materials in Progress – Innovations for Designers and Architects“ by Sascha Peters and Diana Drewes – this book is a constant inspiration for me.
What is your favorite quote?
“The biggest enemy of progress is perfection“ by Amanda Palmer. Super true to me. I think there are many people never finishing something or never progressing because they want to reach perfection.(which is a construct in my eyes). Sometimes you just have to take courage and present something even if it is not perfectly finished.
- New, sustainable materials will be the game changer in the next years – our grandchildren will ask what that plastic was all about.
- Productivity is all about variety: take time to work hard and concentrated but then also take time to regenerate, have a cup of coffee and focus on other things.
- Even the greatest idea will not come to life by itself; without true passion and hard work nothing will ever grow.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.