Munich – For Stefan Diez, his home and studio are fluid spaces that combine work, socializing and family. Frame spends a day with the German designer.
STEFAN DIEZ: I’m up by 7:00 a.m., sometimes earlier. The first thing I see when I wake up is the New Order shelving system we designed for Hay. I’m currently sleeping on a new prototype for a bed that we’re planning to add to the series. Let’s see how it goes! I live and work in Munich in the district of Glockenbachviertel. I go running about three times a week along the Isar River. It’s a beautiful route. The surrounding landscape is pretty rustic, even though you’re in the city centre. Sometimes it feels like being in the middle of the countryside. After running about 10 km, I head home for a big breakfast. My morning meal comprises a mixture of things: cereal, fruit, croissants, bread, Nutella, jam and so on. I’m quite the breakfast buff.
For me, inspiration comes from the work itself
9:00 a.m. I arrive at the office. My studio is located right next to the river, not far from my home, in a former warehouse and workshop. It’s a really special place. We share a big open courtyard with our neighbours, most of whom are close friends and also creatives. There’s even a small body of water for swimming when the weather is warm. The area is really green and a bit savage, with trees and bushes everywhere. It feels a bit like a favela.
The office is a universal space. It’s very open, and there’s plenty of room for everyone to work as they like. We’re six in the studio right now. I have a desk, but you wouldn’t know it; it’s a big mess. I work mostly with my sketchbook or in the workshop, so I don’t depend on the desk that much. It’s more of a depository for work – samples, drawings and the like – than anything else.
I don’t believe that inspiration comes spontaneously. For me, personally, inspiration comes from the work itself. It’s a provocation. You think hard and work intensely to resolve a particular problem, and then – if you’re lucky – you’ll be struck by a good idea. It’s kind of like walking into a dark forest. I start off not knowing exactly where I am or where I’m going. I take the first steps until I reach a landmark that points me in the right direction.
11:00 a.m. Coffee-and-pretzel break with the team.
1:00 p.m. Lunch is between 1:00 and 1:30 in the afternoon, sometimes a little later. We cook and eat together at the studio. I prepare lunch about twice a week. If we’re not lunching at the studio, we’re at an Italian restaurant nearby that’s run by a friend. Lunch has to be convenient. I like to cook, but I don’t have a speciality or a favourite dish per se. Well, maybe dhal, which I learned to cook while staying with a friend and his family in India. Occasionally I’ll make it at home, but during the week it’s usually pasta.
6:00 p.m. We close the office at around six, which is when I usually stop working. Every now and then I’ll stay late, but I like to lead a social life. In the evenings I can often be found making dinner for friends at the studio. Or I go out to a bar or concert. I’m almost never at home at night.
7:00 p.m. Dinnertime with the family. I have two older girls and one boy. They’re cool kids. The great thing about the studio and where we live is that they can drop by my work whenever they want. I never have the feeling that they’re keeping me away from what I like to do. We’ve managed to find a system that gives us all a lot of freedom.
I usually stop working around six; I like to lead a social life
I don’t work on Saturdays, but I like to spend Sundays at the studio – not necessarily to work, though. It’s a place where I like to relax and spend time with friends and family. We’ll put on the fire and just hang out.
I don’t actually spend much time at home. In terms of design, my house is a blank sheet of paper. It’s very pragmatic. I don’t keep much there – everything of importance is at the studio. It’s full of things I’ve collected during my travels. My most incredible souvenir is a little locket given to me by a Japanese girl in Tokyo. She’d collected a lot of curious things, but this particular artefact belonged to her grandfather. I told her I admired it, and she gifted it to me. I didn’t learn until much later that it’s customary in Japanese culture to give away an object – even if precious – to someone if they like it. You can imagine my embarrassment.
12:00 a.m. Lights out. I try to get to bed between midnight and one. I don’t have a specific evening ritual or routine. I like to read before bed, but that’s about it.
This article was originally published in Frame 118 – Home-Grown Hotels. For more insights to the lifestyles, life lessons and milestones of designers, check out other portraits available online or in other issues of Frame magazine.