Rethinking Things – industrial designer Stefan Diez
A chair is a chair. A simple piece of furniture to sit on. Not so for Stefan Diez. The industrial designer from Bavaria, Germany, puts two, three, four years of work into developing his seating furniture. “A chair has four legs, a backrest and a seat. I wouldn’t give it five legs just to make it different from all others, and I wouldn’t invent any stories or stuff to make the design more than it is. The interaction between all the individual components is what counts,” he explains. “In every project we plumb the depths in our quest to bring out more than seems possible at first glance. Rethink things – that’s my principle.”
Whether it’s a chair, a pen clip, a kitchen utensil, a fireplace, a bag, a coat rack, a lamp or a planter – Stefan Diez makes every product look special. He is a master at uniting practical value with sensual quality. For, no matter how creative and unique a product is, it still has to serve its purpose. After all, people are supposed to buy it, make it part of their daily lives and enjoy using it – and not just look at it in awe.
Stefan Diez, 42, is one of the brightest and most renowned minds in the industry and has won numerous awards, including the Interior Innovation Award imm Cologne, the “Designpreis der Bundesrepublik Deutschland” and the Red Dot Award. “Winning the Design Report Award 2002 really kicked off my career,” says Diez. The accolade encouraged him to set up his own design studio in 2003. His clients today include Authentics, Bosch, Moroso, Thonet, Rosenthal, Bree, e15, Established & Sons, and Wrong for Hay. At the Domotex, the world leading trade show for carpets and floor coverings in Hanover, he was chairman of the Innovations@DOMOTEX jury looking for the 62 most innovative products in the industry.
Stefan Diez is a thinker and a doer. He was apprenticed as a cabinetmaker, studied industrial design, and worked for Germany’s star designers Richard Sapper and Konstantin Grcic. “From Konstantin Grcic I learned that it’s not just about coming up with the same old answer to a problem that has already been given a hundred thousand times before,” says Diez who can go into raptures over the multilayered complexity of good design and still appear refreshingly down to earth. In his opinion, learning a trade can only be recommended: “It enables you to grasp a dimension that other people miss: a feel for materials and for the way you can work with them.”
Weird fancy designs and fast-moving trends are absent in his works. “For me, design is about creating clever, clear-cut products with a high innovative potential. Good design is creative. Retro look is not my thing at all; that’s not moving forward.” His workshop studio in a green inner courtyard in Munich’s Glockenbach district is scattered with countless sketches, materials and models made of cardboard and wood. Diez and his collaborators like to call the workshop the “lab” where they experiment for hours, days or even weeks on end. And all in a family atmosphere because the designer lives in the front building with his wife Saskia, a jewellery designer. She has her showroom and workshop there, too. Professional and private life all under the same roof, “that’s extremely convenient,” says Stefan Diez. Even though their three children sometimes have the impression that mommy and daddy don’t work because they’re home all the time. It’s these affectionate little stories that explain why Diez has remained down to earth despite his success. Which goes to show that Stefan Diez not only has a feel for materials, shapes and innovations, but also for life.