10 questions to Martin Steininger
What is the main advice you got from your grandfather and perhaps even made it one of Martin Steininger’s rules of life?
Unfortunately, I have never ever met my grandfather. He died a few years before my birth. He was Martin Steininger too. And I know that he was a perfectionist in everything. Always. Eighty years ago, he set up a furniture factory. My dad told me that grandpa was extremely attentive to detail, he loved to do the perfect job. Well, this is something I would love to hear from my grandfather himself, and in great detail. If I could just catch a glimpse of him, but alas. No. I have no personal memories.
I wonder what inspires you outside of your art form? I mean not spatial, but temporal (cinema, music)?
It has to flow in the whole room, it has to flow in the building. And it is comparable to music. Sometimes it’s quiet, sometimes it’s very loud, sometimes it’s great, and sometimes ..
I have been playing piano for years. For me, this is also the construction of something new, and vice versa, the birth of new ideas always means music. When creating some kind of space, you always have to make it sound. To create a good sound.
It’s so fascinating when you can see by the sound or you can hear how it looks like
Your visual language goes beyond temporal art. You make your shots like great directors. You know what to include, and more often, what to exclude. What would you advise people who are a little scared of “pauses” in space? People who want to fill every inch of their home? Is this a psychological story?
I think so, such an explanation is also possible. Basically it’s something very personal to love, to love it clear. Аnd also something cultural. Of course, I understand people who want luxury.. There are people, quite a lot of them, who are afraid of emptiness, minimalism, perfectly smooth surfaces. But simplicity is not so simple, speaking frankly.
When you put one object in a room, that’s much freedom. Everything else is a matter of details. Their functionality, quality and quantity. In such a room, your attention is not blurred. It can be the most beautiful thing, or the most expensive or the most cozy one. When you have ten of them, you must share your attention. Luxury lies in simplicity for me..So there is nothing in, which is too much, which is not needed.
This style brings with its purist restraint the necessary calm to the room.
Nowadays, a lot has changed not only in society, but also in home life. Can you remember the things you loved to do in the kitchen when you were a kid?
In the kitchen, I used to do homework, or at times – do nothing – while adults were cooking dinner. And I think nothing has changed in this regard so far. Of course, today the spaces are different from the ones we had 20-30-40 years ago, but kitchen tends to be the most important place in every house. This is the point, where the communication takes place. All and everything is there. Mom, dad or grandma are cooking. A warm feeling of home is born there, and you want to be a part of this place.
Now let me ask you an unexpectable question: what does your own kitchen look like?
My kitchen is very simple. It includes three blocks from the Steininger range, one layer above the other. Very simple design, but decent size. Form, as usual, follows function. I like it because different levels are involved. Besides it is extremely convenient. You have a countertop, at the ninety cm level, and there is a lower level as well. When we all get together as a family in the evenings or on weekends, children are sitting in the lower tier, doing their important business. We are keeping an eye on them from the top. Kitchen is a place of communication for all of us. Yes, this is where we live our lives.
What was the last meal you cooked?
I don’t cook often, but I like to get the family together “on the island”. My son and I made pumpkin soup last week. We both love soups and adore noodles, something simple we do together.
What were the most common things you used to tell your designers?
“You always need to have fire or a sense of new idea inside you.” And you know, it can at times be so hard to decide, what on earth is that? In such cases, I tell my designers: “Make it clear. Purism is the art of exclusion. The outcome should be less rather than more. Do not complicate.
Since we have very different projects, from large houses to interior items, we are constantly on the lookout for something that corresponds to our view and is consistent with the idea of the customer.
And of course, this process is also in a way a kind of work, and you can make it very clear too, making all the way to the result step by step. ”
Here the biggest challenge is to take the first step back and see everything from point A, as the basis of simplicity. And continue making everything simple.
I do understand. Just you undertake such complex projects that even industry leaders fail. Well, those who were considered leaders yesterday. You simply subordinate everything to the outdoor kitchen: the sun becomes powerless – unable to burn out the color, oblique rain at any angle without a peep heads into the allocated inches, the salty sea hurricane cannot corrode anything. And all that so the gourmand, having a smart kitchen unit in the garden or on the front deck of the yacht, when leaving his own party, does not have to wonder: “What is the reliable way to protect all this now?” Tell us how you came up with this concept?
It’s pretty simple. We thought of this concept as following: there are many people who have a grill in the garden. Therefore, we need to bring into the open air a fully equipped covered kitchen, which would function all year round and would contain everything. Do you need a refrigerator? I like freezer, I like ice cubes for my garden party, and, yeah, I have a dishwasher at hand. Who wants to carry plates to the house and generally go back and forth?
We have developed a design which both meets all modern functional requirements, and is suitable for sun, rain, snow. The idea is to make it possible to open and close the party season in one move. You don’t want to waste your time unpacking and packing furniture at every “cats and dogs” forecast, do you?
I don’t. Mr. Steininger, having become a man whose ideas had a huge impact on thousands of people in 2019, can you tell me who inspired or impressed you in the past year?
[Steininger.Designers became the winners of Archiproducts Design Awards 2019, Red Dot Award: Brands & Communication Design 2019, iconic Awards 2019, German Innovation Award 2019, German Design award 2020 (Atpoint)]
Oh, there are a lot of them. People who inspire me no matter the time. One of them is Donald Judd. I really love him. A minimalist sculptor, he created stunning interval things, bringing architecture and design together. Santiago Calatrava, Spanish architect – he is known for his bridges and his romantic architecture around the world.
In General, inspiration is always more than one thing. I like to be inspired, being in nature. I travel quite a lot. When I’m just walking down the street, I like to look at what I see. We seem to have almost lost that ability to see what’s going on around us.
I go and filter pictures, and sometimes this filter gets pictures that are not there. Which may be totally inappropriate for the situation. That is really cool and that’s how I suddenly get ideas for work.
What about Vienna? What are your favorite points in Vienna?
Ronacher, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Kerntnerstrasse, Museum Quarter with those museums inside. And Vienna Hofburg, of course.
Text: Agness Oganesyan
Photo: Vaga Ka
Photo, video: Steininger.Designers