Damask knife hand-forged masterpieces

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Gunther Löbach Damast kitchen knife of the absolute top class

No one else combines unsurpassed Damascus steel with exceptional knife design.

My gallerist Sebastian Schildt in Stockholm asked me to curate an exhibition with knife makers. Galerie Schildt+ is the most renowned arts and crafts gallery in Scandinavia.

I felt honored. I started researching. I came across damask specialists. Pocket knife developers and real Sami Knifemaker.

When I came across Gunther Löbach’s website, I didn’t have to look any further for damasks.

Under the company name ScorpioDesign, knives could be seen that combine hand-forged damask and overwhelming, elegant design in an incredible way and at the highest level.

On The Edge, an exhibition at Schildt+ right on Strandvägen in Stockholm.

The exhibition entitled On The Edge was a great success. With so much nature in Scandinavia, knives are a much bigger topic than in Germany.

Many hunt or migrate. Often real outdoor freaks. What pleased me the most was that Gunther Löbach came to the opening and was able to spend a few days at our home.

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From carpenter and wheelwright to architect, from there to designer, blacksmith and knife maker.

In 1994 Gunther graduated from high school. As is still quite normal for our generation, you decide between military or civilian service.

Gunther does his community service in a retirement home. He’s the caretaker. Repair lamps, clear drains, small repairs. The girl for everything. Craftsmanship in all trades.

His real interest lies in architecture. Even in high school, art and technical subjects were his favorites. Design, find shapes, determine volume and structure. From a very early age, he was driven by the desire to create.

1995 to 1997 Gunther studied architecture at the TU in Braunschweig. However, design was neglected. A large university, over a hundred students per semester, full lecture halls.

Instead of talking to professors, who you usually wait forever for, you talk more to tutors and assistants. The actual design is neglected.

Gunther meets a carpenter during his studies. This awakens his interest in designing with his hands again.

He left the university and began an apprenticeship as a carpenter and wheelwright in 1998. A carpenter today works very automatically and mostly with chipboard and composite panels.

The wheelwright can only work in natural wood to make wheels and frames. For body frames and wheels, the natural wood is brought into curved and curved shapes.

Here again is the interest in material and free forms. This will accompany Gunther Löbach forever.

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An old carving knife leads to damask knives at the highest level.

At the beginning of 2000, Gunther worked as a self-employed carpenter. On a convivial evening with friends and colleagues, a turning point comes in his life, a shape shift.

A carving set inherited from Gunther’s grandparents is used.

He still remembers the carving knife in need of help. The blade is still usable but the old, ruined plastic handle needs to be replaced.

Wood is used as a substitute for plastic. Wood meets metal.

The seed for working with steel has been planted.

From 2003 Gunther Löbach studied metal design at the HAWK in Hildesheim . He starts with product design.

He deepens his knowledge of form and design. But the metal is calling. After the basic courses in metal processing, he switches to the metal class. He is fascinated by goldsmithing, welding and metal forming. He spends his practical semester in a forge in an open-air museum.

Damascus steel is a magic word in the small intimate metal classes, a fascinating, almost unattainable wonder Steel. A myth. It combines the highest art of blacksmithing with the design of patterns and shapes.

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A Diploma in Damascus Steel Pattern Design.

At first, the professors dislike him. Metal classes were very boy-heavy back then. Knife and damask was an overused favorite topic for the diploma theses.

But Gunther was able to convince. His interest was more than knives and composite steel. He began to deal with it intensively, both scientifically and as a designer.

In 2007 Gunther did his diploma with Professor Werner Bünck and Diplom Designer Hartwig Gerbracht. Title: “Pattern design in Damascus steel”.

Knifemaker Designer Lecturer.

After graduating, Gunther Löbach started working as a freelance knife maker and designer.

He sells the first individual items personally and takes part in various trade fairs.

Finalist awards from the Bavarian Arts and Crafts Association in Munich, Collect – International Art Fair, London and Talents , the special show at the craft fair in Munich.

Shortly after graduating, the HAWK in Hildesheim employed Gunther as a teacher in the metal class. He will teach there until 2014.

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Inventor, designer, patentee. Folding Knife of the Year.

Gunther Löbach rented a small workshop while he was still studying. There, in his  laboratory, he works on steels, patterns and above all on a completely new type of Pocket knife.

What bothers him as a perfectionist is the fact that since the pivot point of the blade is in the hilt of the knife, the blade always has to be much shorter than the handle.

The advantage of a folding knife is that when it is closed, the sharpness of the blade is protected. This is how you can transport a knife without injuring yourself.

The size remains pocket-friendly. Gunther’s solution is amazing and groundbreaking.

The handle of his “Shape Shifter” is folded up and locked in place. If you loosen the lock, the handle can be placed around the edge of the blade like a split rail with a groove.

All the advantages of the folding knife are thus met, but the ratio of blade to handle length is significantly improved.

As early as 2007, Gunter received the “Folding Knife of the Year” award from the German Blade Museum and the Society of Knife Collectors, Solingen.

The patents DE 102006047835 and DE 102008017588 protect his invention of the “Shapeshifter” folding knife and the “MagLock” automatic knife.

All of his admirable creations can be found on his website, including his kitchen knives, which are groundbreaking in damask and design.

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Kitchen knives perfect and unsurpassable in form, shape and pattern.

Under the title “Kitchen Mistress”, Gunther Löbach develops and designs very special kitchen knives.

To this day I am totally fascinated by these kitchen knives. Like Gunther Löbach, I have gained a lot of experience as a master goldsmith, sculptor and blacksmith in the design of molds and in the practical development and shaping of metals.

Nothing is more difficult than getting pattern and form into such harmony. Aesthetics are elementary. Harmony plays just as important a role as tension.

Gunther Löbach drives this triad to the top.

His patterns and structures created in Damascus steel seem to grow organically over the perfect and ergonomic shape of the knife.

The light and dark stripes move across the ups and downs of the shape. They appear to be layers of sediment. Or growth lines of the plant world.

Some structures resemble lines left by waves on the beach.

Some handles grow organically in shape and pattern from the blades. Others form a perfect triad of blade, ferrule and handle. The rhythms are finely tuned.

The relationship of the black and white blade to the white ferrule and black handle follow a law of nature, or cosmic harmony.

Is it the proportions of Archimedes, Da Vinci, or Corbusier? Is it Fibonacci numbers or human, instinctive ability to form?

No matter the result touches, inspires admiration and humility.

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Gunther Löbach as author. Damascus Steel Theory and Practice.

We asked Gunther Löbach to reveal some of his in-depth expertise on our blog.

With his book “Damascus Steel Theory and Practice”, Gunther Löbach has created an all-encompassing compendium. His work is divided into theory and practice.

The theory part records the different types of damask and similar other composites. The reader gets a dedicated overview of the historical origin and development of Damascus steel.

The section dealing with the aesthetic aspect of the steel samples is very comprehensive. This is also unique about Gunther Löbach’s book and should be emphasized.

The practical part shows step by step how even a beginner can achieve the desired result. In the appendix you can easily find sources of supply and further literature.

In his book, the knowledge and practice of a trained and creative designer are combined with the very practical aspects of craftsmanship.

No other book on this subject is as detailed, practice-oriented and richly illustrated as this one.

It was published by Wieland Verlag in 2011 and can be purchased from normal sources on the book market.

Gunther Löbach will share much of his expertise with us in the following block posts.

We’re really looking forward to it and can’t wait to see it.