HHV x BETONAT: A Conversation with Max Schwarck
With the HHV x BETONAT Record Player, Max Schwarck has created a limited – with 4 pieces extremely exclusive – replica of the iconic Technics MK2 out of concrete. To celebrate the launch of HHV x Betonat, we sat down with Max Schwarck to talk all things creativity, hip-hop and concrete.
Calum: Hi Max. So tell us who you are, where we are, what we are doing here and what you do in your everyday life here.
Max: I’m Max, a freelance graphic designer from Berlin. I’ve been running my own design studio “keny” for a few years and founded BETONAT in 2020.
Calum: What does your everyday life here look like, you are a graphic designer but you also do a lot of manual work.
Max: Yes, I need that as a balance to my creative work on the screen. The feeling of creating something, as a balance, also tinkering, crafting and doing real manual work in the workshop and designing objects out of concrete.
Calum: Quite simply to say your freelance graphic work is head creativity in itself and BETONAT is physical creativity.
Max: Exactly, whereby one helps the other. If I sit at the computer a lot for weeks or months, I also need manual work as a balance. That’s always a nice change for me. One always supports the other a bit, they help each other very well in my work.
Calum: Yes, and as we were just talking, BETONAT is now not only becoming more work, but more people are interested. BETONAT is more than concrete now. How did it come about that you could get so creative with concrete?
Max: It actually developed over years. So the origin is my love for graffiti, which manifested itself in me from a very young age. But as a designer, I also really like the concrete aesthetic. To unite this, to make the streets of Berlin, this crazy colourful hustle and bustle of Neukölln and the rough concrete facades, accessible to everyone as an art object that can be experienced. I tried to capture the flair of the streets and cast it in concrete to make it a small, beautiful art object that can be experienced. So that was one idea, to make the facades of the big city tangible. That’s where the influence of graffiti comes in again. The objects, especially the concrete cans, which “CanCrete” makes available as a canvas for graffiti artists. So, you can paint on the product, the object, just like outside on the street, you can also paint on the object on concrete, but just in a small frame and for at home and to put down. So, that was the main idea and also the origin, to unite all that in the objects.
Calum: Are you or have you ever been a graffiti artist?
Max: That would be too presumptuous. I used to paint a lot as a teenager and actively painted for many years. But my graphic design studies, I would say, came in between. And then I worked a lot only digitally, the active sprayer time is over, it has actually become less and less with my studies. Unfortunately.
Calum: There are many things similar between music, fashion, graffiti, style & creativity. Did music have an influence on your graffiti and does it have an influence on BETONAT now?
Max: Definitely. Well, I can say that music is almost always on in our studio and also in the workshop. And I also select music very specifically. So when I’m doing creative brainwork on the computer, I definitely listen to different music than when I’m doing rough concrete handwork in the workshop. It definitely alternates and I think you can tell quite well from the music I’m listening to what I’m doing at that moment. That definitely influences my work and also how I work. And especially now in our project, for example, it has definitely helped me in the creative phase. How do I use the Technics MK2? It definitely helped to just listen to a bit of Grandmaster Flash and think okay, like what were the origins of the Technics 1210, of hip hop, of scratching? And of course, it helps me to dive into that a little bit and consciously choose music.
Calum: Great. And you were just talking about our collaboration and that’s a unique collaboration at the moment. Hopefully, we would do some other projects sometime in the future. But what makes this project so special for you?
Max: For one thing, HHV was the first big store to add BETONAT products to their range. Which, of course, was a really good support for us, a good starting point. And this project has now also developed from that with the trust that has arisen from it. Which is nice, of course, that it continues in this way. Of course, it’s also great to see that HHV and BETONAT have a lot in common. The roots of both companies lie in hip-hop. At HHV, it’s more the musical area of hip-hop culture. At BETONAT, it’s more the graffiti art area. But this joint project and the concrete record player unite these worlds. It is special for us as BETONAT to have the opportunity to continue experimenting with concrete. And to deal so intensively with the classic turntable, the 1210. We have already made many objects, but of course not yet a turntable. And this project gave us the opportunity to create more complex objects, such as a record player with very delicate parts like the tone arm, and despite all the difficulties and problems, to have the time and the equipment to create a great, great object out of it.
The BETONAT x HHV Collaboration is now available in-store only (249.95 EUR).