STEININGER’s expertise ranges from residential properties to commercial buildings, office projects, yacht furnishings and aircraft equipment. But the company doesn’t just stop there – every day STEININGER further develops its collection using highly technical processes, producing unique items that possess the best in artisanal quality.
With over 80 years of experience, tradition is a key element in their design principle. Their passion and excellence are showcased both through digital production and flawlessly handcrafted items.
CEO Martin Steininger is a designer, a mastermind and above all, a minimalist. His creations hold nothing of the primacy of function over form.
“Great design is clear, discreet, timeless. The form that follows the function may be absolutely justified. My antithesis is, ‘aesthetics is function!’ because things have to please. We assume that they work otherwise the product would have no sense,” says Martin Steininger.
He remains constantly faithful to this maxim and with success: the interiors made by STEININGER are in international demand and his designs have been awarded several times.
Martin’s designs are inspired by nature, art and architecture. His role models include Adolf Loos, Josef Hofmann, Walter Gropius and Achille Castiglioni. Minimal artist Donald Judd also shaped him. As a creative director, Martin Steininger designs everything himself, preferably with pen and paper.
New Understanding of Architecture
“We see a building as a set design, as a scenography – yes, as a theatre stage. For us, the big picture always matters and that has to be true,” says Martin.
“The aim of great design and architecture should be to create good places that serve users and yes, beautify their lives too. That’s the ambition, with everything we do!”
“Minimalism is not fashion, but an attitude”
Chief designer Martin Steininger stands for purist design with clear corners and edges. Reduction as a stylistic tool runs through all of Martin Steininger’s designs, whether it be furniture, interior or architecture.
In the design process, Martin Steininger pursues the principle of maximum simplification, not to mention design. With unusual materials such as stone, cement, aluminium or brass, he emphasizes the simple, sometimes archaic aspect of his creations. And these materials are the ones he wants to conquer first, mentally in the initial idea and then in production.
STEININGER interiors complement details such as fabrics, leather, carpets and atmospheric lighting concepts. In doing so, they create sensuality, warmth and intimacy. However, here, Steininger pays homage to minimalism with the motto: “less and better”.
FOUR sits down with Martin to find out more about his designs…
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”, in which equally large aluminium cubes are placed at an exact distance from each other.
Are your monumental drawings, such as the FOLD, more of a sculpture to look at and less suitable for everyday use?
Of course, this is complete nonsense. Our designs are luxurious but above all highly functional and durable. Everything is high quality and well thought out. This lasts for years, nothing is going to break down anytime soon. Usage traces are just a part of it. This is life and has nothing to do with the presentation in the showroom. We do this for people and for social gatherings. The kitchen is now the central point of communication.
STEININGER stands for design-led kitchens, interiors and architecture. Don’t you lose focus?
The opposite is the case. This is the only way to create everything from one source! For me, the big picture always matters and that has to be the reality. David Chipperfield probably sees it the same way. He argues that architects often only see buildings as objects. On the other hand, he sees it as a set design, scenography or stage theatre. If you understand architecture in this way, you are obviously also interested in the objects in it, interiors, kitchens and furniture as well as accessories. That is exactly how we think it is. Anything else would be short-sighted. The market wants that! That’s why we are constantly developing the STEININGER collection.
The aim of great design and architecture should be to create good places that serve users and yes, beautify their lives too. That’s the ambition, in everything we do. And for me, beauty lies in simplicity and simplicity in combination with natural materials. This is timeless. And only that which is timeless survives or has the potential to become a classic.
In addition to Donald Judd, you once mentioned Adolf Loos and Walter Gropius as influences. Are there currently any specific designers or architects you like?
I am fascinated by simple, clear and geometric shapes, whether nature, architecture, art or sculpture. Meanwhile, good things come from Japan and China as well as Scandinavia, Austria and Switzerland.
Chipperfield did this with the James Simon Gallery in Berlin. Peter Zumthor follows his clear lines with great respect for the place. I also like the reduced rooms with atmospheric lights by John Pawson or Claudio Silvestrin.
Some find this room asceticism uncomfortable. That’s why there is a regular countertrend to more colour and opulence in the living area. How do you interpret that?
Being puristic and clear in form does not mean that the interiors have to look cold! I see them as intimate and individual rites from the hectic daily life and the whole stream of images and media. I also know people who have deliberately left their white walls without art, just to make their thoughts wander and come down, just to chill out.
We always take care to translate the wishes of our clients and their expectations of individual living spaces into our handwriting. After all, it is a joint project. Of course, we also monitor trends, but in the end, we remain true to ourselves and the brand.
Your grandfather founded the furniture factory in 1933, how would he see the development of STEININGER?
He would be amazed by the technical possibilities we have today and at the same time would be thrilled by the fact that we are preserving the tradition of artisanal craftsmanship. Nothing is delivered to the client without us having our 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 already called the ornament a crime in 1908 (laughs)… My grandfather probably didn’t see it that hard. But in his furniture, quality, material and especially clear shapes were important to him.