Minimalism is not a fashion, but an attitude
STEININGER starts the barbecue season with the modular ROCK.AIR. The predecessor model ROCK made of natural stone was given a touch of glamour with stainless steel surfaces. Nevertheless: Even the new edition of the mobile kitchen has a purist concept with clear corners and edges. Reduction as a stylistic device runs through all Martin Steininger 's designs - whether furniture, interior or architecture. A plea for the good in the little.
In the design process, Martin Steininger follows the principle of maximum simplification, of course, in terms of form not equipment: Using unusual materials such as stone, concrete, aluminium or brass, he emphasizes the straight-line, sometimes archaic appearance of his creations. And these materials first want to be conquered, mentally at the initial idea and later in production.
ROCK.AIR with steel surfaces is also a commitment to uncompromising unostentatious finishing. In the garden or on the terrace, it is an exclusive open-air cooking pleasure for distinguished guests who have no sentiment for ornaments and profane barbecue frying around a campfire.
In STEININGER's interiors, details such as textiles, leather, carpets and atmospheric lighting concepts complement the reduced settings.
This creates sensuality, warmth and comfort. Nevertheless: Here too, Steininger pays homage to minimalism; his motto: "less and better".
Martin, what do your kitchens have to do with Donald Judd?
(laughs) "In terms of minimalism and clarity, Judd is a pioneer for me. I was particularly impressed by his installation "100 Works in Mill Aluminium", where aluminium cubes of the same size are positioned at exact distances from one another. This inspired me to create the cubic form of the outdoor kitchen ROCK and currently at ROCK.AIR, we have continued this concept. In my view, this radical form implies some beauty. The kitchens are a tribute to his work."
Provocatively asked: Are your monumental designs, like the brass FOLD, rather sculptures to look at and less suitable for everyday use?
"This is of course complete nonsense. Our designs are luxurious, but above all highly functional and durable. Everything is of high quality and well thought-through. Durable for years. Nothing can break so that easily. And this simply includes traces of use, too. That’s life and has nothing to do with the presentation in the showroom. We do our creations for people and for social get-together. Today, the kitchen is the central place of communication. At the same time, people long for being outside from March to October. ROCK.AIR is the perfect solution. The modular cubes allow the greatest possible degree of freedom, everything is flexible and easy to arrange."
STEININGER stands for design kitchens, interiors and architecture. Doesn't that make you lose focus?
"The opposite is true. Only in this way, everything can come from a single source! It’s always the overall picture that counts for me and that must be right. David Chipperfield’s opinion is similar, I suppose. He believes that architects often see buildings only as objects. He, on the other hand, considers them as a setting, scenography or a theatre stage. If you understand architecture in this way, you are naturally also interested in the objects in them, i.e. the interior, kitchens and furniture, and even matching accessories. That's exactly, how we do it. Everything else would be short-sighted. The market wants this! Therefore, we are currently designing the STEININGER COLLECTION.
The aim of good design and architecture should be to create good places that serve the users and - yes - also beautify their lives. This is the claim in everything we do. And for me, beauty lies in simplicity and clarity combined with natural materials. That's timeless. And only timeless objects survive or have the potential to become classic."
Besides Donald Judd, you once mentioned Adolf Loos and Walter Gropius as your sources of influence. Are there currently designers or architects that you like?
"I am fascinated by simple, clear and geometric forms, whether in nature, architecture, art or sculpture. Good things are now coming from Japan and China, as well as from Scandinavia, Austria and Switzerland. Chipperfield has demonstrated this with the James Simon Gallery in Berlin. Peter Zumthor follows his clear line with great respect for the location. The reduced rooms with the atmospheric light effects by John Pawson or Claudio Silvestrin also appeal to me.”
Some people consider these ascetic rooms to be uncomfortable. This is probably why a counter-trend towards more colour and opulence in our homes emerges on a regular basis. What do you think about?
"Being purist and clear in form does not mean that interiors have to appear cold! I see them as intimate and individual retreats from the hectic everyday life and the whole flood of images and media. I even know people who have deliberately left their walls white without art, just to let their thoughts wander and come down, just to chill. We are always concerned with translating our customers’ wishes and their expectations of individual living space into our design styling. After all, it’s a project implemented in common. Of course, we also observe the trends, but in the end, we remain true to ourselves and the brand.”
One last question: Your grandfather founded the furniture manufactory in 1933, how would he see the development of STEININGER?
"He would be amazed at the technical possibilities we have today and at the same time, he would be delighted that we are preserving the tradition of craftmanship. Nothing is handed over to the customer without having put our own hands on it. Some steps simply cannot be done by machines. I think he would like our design. He liked Adolf Loos, the Austrian pioneer of modern architecture, who called ornament a crime already in 1908 (laughs) ... I guess grandpa didn't see it that badly. But quality, material and above all clear forms of his furniture were important to him.”