A Q&A with Leo Sponge designer Connie Hüsser

Swiss designer, stylist, and journalist Connie Hüsser has always had an eye for objects that bring something extra to a space. Her curation for Biennale Interior in 2018, which she describes as “Objects with Love” in line with her eponymous design studio, focuses on items that are crafted, handmade, and have a sense of playfulness to them; a response to a sometimes overly-industrialised design world.

Hüsser’s Leo Sponge is a simple, fun home item: a small sponge with a smiley face on it.

Connie likes faces and surrounds herself with them in her studio. She has an extensive collection of objects with smiley faces, so it was only natural to include this motif in one of her own products. As she says, “it’s good to surround yourself with smiles!”

We spoke with Connie Hüsser about this design and her collaboration with HAY.

Can you tell us about the inspiration for the Leo Sponge? 

Connie Hüsser: Every Christmas, I create something with my hands. I went into a crafting store, saw the material, and decided to make a sponge. The first Leo Sponge was a gift for my parents. The name “Leo” is for my father, who is a very positive and supportive person in my life.

Soon, others were asking for them. I ended up making 400 by myself, and each one takes four hours.

I included the sponge in my curation for Biennale Interieur and there was a great response! Elle Korea wrote a feature on it and I was getting a lot of requests. When I created an exhibit for DesignMiami, I included Leo Sponge again and, once again, the feedback was excellent.

How did you meet Mette and Rolf Hay and start working with HAY?

Connie Hüsser: I first met Rolf at a showroom in Zurich I had curated, and for which I had used a HAY felt rug that turned out to be very popular. Rolf came to visit, I happened to be on-site that day, and we started chatting.

Then in Milan in 2008, Rolf introduced me to Mette; we had an instant connection. We both love the same weird and beautiful things, Mette has that same special quality in being able to find “objects with love.”

Later, Mette approached me about producing the Leo Sponge. She found the right supplier, so that was that!

How did you choose these colours?

Connie Hüsser: Thread limits the choice of colours. I knew quite quickly that I wanted a rainbow collection with eight colours, from yellow to green, so that when you put them on top of each other, you have a harmonious colour transition.

How do you hope people will feel when they use the Leo Sponge?

Connie Hüsser:
Many people send me pictures of Leo hanging in their kitchens. Some even find it too beautiful to use it for cleaning! I personally do use it to clean and it always makes me feel a little bit happier. I hope that the mundane act of cleaning will be made more cheerful with Leo.

A smile can have so much power.

Early model of Leo Sponge. 

About Connie Hüsser

Based in Zürich, Connie Hüsser is a Swiss interior stylist, editor for interior design and exhibition architect. During her career she has used her fascination and intuitive sense of the unusual to seek out and select exceptional and striking objects. Since 2018 she has been travelling the world with the exhibition “Objects with Love”, in which she has carefully curated her own selection of original designs by contemporary designers. The exhibition was exhibited at Ecal in Lausanne, Design Miami in Basel and the Biennale Interieur in Kortrijk. She was awarded the Swiss Grand Award for Design in 2019. For HAY, Connie has designed the colourful smiley sponge series Leo.

Leo Sponge Collection