Design is added value
Design Is Good Business. IBM President Thomas J. Watson Jr. knew that already in 1973. Steve Jobs proved that with Apple like no other. And Martin Steininger is convinced, too, that good design is essential. For the Austrian designer, there is no primacy of function over form. He appreciates that good design is the added value, whether in the interior, in furniture or in everyday things.
"The joy of design makes things desirable. I presuppose that things work well."
STEININGER pursues this approach radically and successfully: The almost archaic-looking luxury kitchens produced at the manufactory near Linz are award-winning. Architectural subjects and interiors with Martin Steininger’s concise design styling inspire design aficionados worldwide. There are showrooms in St. Martin, Linz, Vienna and London, and some more are in the planning stage. Inquiries from metropolises such as New York and Dubai fill the order books. The cooperation with Archiproducts Milano 2020 is a further foray into the international business. There, STEININGER presents the Black Edition of the FOLD kitchen made of brass.
Martin, what is good design and what is its importance?
Good design is clear, unobtrusive and timeless, something that people enjoy having around them. The statement “Form follows function” by Louis Sullivan may be justified. But my antithesis is: "Aesthetics is function!" The things which surround us every day must be pleasing. That makes them desirable and that is the value. It is a prerequisite that something works! Otherwise a product has no sense.
Your interiors and designs are pure, clear and timeless. On the other hand, they appear monumental and archaic. What is inspiring to you?
Ideas never come from nowhere. I consciously look at the nature, its forms and functions. I travel a lot and am interested in buildings and architecture of different cultures. I love material that surprises with its feel and characteristics. In the end, I have a clear idea of what I want to do next. It's an emotional process.
"Actually, I'm a craftsman from the bottom of my heart"
What role models do you have?
Adolf Loos, Josef Hofmann and Walter Gropius were all committed to architecture, design and craftsmanship. That's how I see myself, too. Despite high-tech production: We are still a manufactory; we do the fine-tuning by hand.
"In the design process, every detail counts, and when it comes to implementation, the big picture must always be kept in mind."
How is the creation process, how much of you is in it?
Our style is unique and sharpened by me every day. Of course, there is a great team behind me, who realizes products and projects according to my design guidelines. The result is always discussed together. But the design process is much more than designing a beautiful building, interior or furniture. Every detail and the big picture counts for the implementation. Everything is interrelated and mutually dependent.
How exactly can we imagine the process?
Example: Before I start thinking about furniture, there are a few things I need to consider: How large is the room, how high are the ceilings, what is the suitable material for floor and wall or lighting? Maybe the first thought was to plan a FOLD kitchen for an interior. Then it turns out that the user prefers a PURE made of concrete or that a modular outdoor kitchen like the ROCK.AIR fits better because there is a garden. That must be clear. This is where a well-coordinated team of designers, architects and project managers is needed, where everything from the idea to the implementation is under professional control. Otherwise, it will not work.
"Luxury and understatement are not mutually exclusive."
What are your plans for 2020?
We expect a boost from the cooperation with Archiproducts Milano and the permanent exhibition of FOLD Black. We will also be there with a team during the Milan Furniture Fair and Eurocucina (16-21 June). It’s about networking and exchange: During the Design Week alone, around 15,000 architects, industry representatives and consumers will gather here. These are all potential interested parties, if not even customers. With the black edition of the FOLD, we serve a clientele in the high-end segment that wants luxury with understatement. That doesn't exclude each other. Preferences for colours vary according to region or culture.
We will open the spring season with ROCK.AIR. The outdoor kitchen has surfaces in polished or satin-finished steel and combines our typical design with high-tech functions. The concept is based on the ROCK design in natural stone. Donald Judd inspired me to the monolithic island solution. The minimalist also worked with cubes and cuboids and grouped them individually. The kitchen modules can also be flexibly combined. Both models are architectural statements for terrace or garden. In the long term, we will expand our product range and further develop the existing furniture collection. We want to offer complete solutions for architecture and interior in the typical STEININGER design. Thus, everything is from a single source.