Interior Design made in Germany

Solid (clear), multicultural & astonishingly agile

The interiors brands presented here have their high standards of quality, but especially their great passion for interior design in common. That's because this is the focus of the business activities of all four – for the traditional companies, but also for the still quite young design brands of the German interiors industry.

To clear things up right from the start: the cliche of German thoroughness here, the clean edge there, German design is anything but boring. ames, Walter Knoll, Sophisticated Living and Janua are examples from an industry in which diversity prevails. Those who want to see that in practice only need to have a look around at the international interiors trade fir in Cologne in January. imm cologne is an important date for our protagonists: the first interiors trade fair of the year provides the benchmark for the economic development of the whole year. Here decisions are made in a period of seven days as to whether a new product has what it takes to become a bread and butter product or a design magazine darling – ideally both, of course.

Each of the companies presented here in an exemplary fashion have different histories and their own way of approaching the themes of design and interior design: some are newcomers and brought their passion for the theme of design with them, while others come from more rural regions and search the entire world for new product and interior design ideas. One rides the waves of trends while the others build their foundations on tradition and timelessness. The language that links them all is design. From the businessman through the craftsman to the star designer, they all have the same goal: the production and sale of interior design objects that are inspired by design and craftsmanship, and that can capture their place in international interior design.

ames – a furniture company as a mediator between cultures

The Colombian Ana Maria Calderón Kayser founded the company "ames" in 2006 in the Eifel, of all places, with the goal of developing furniture and living accessories that speak to the hearts and minds of cosmopolitan and living people. Since moving to Germany in 2001, the Colombian-born managing and creative director not only lives between cultures herself, but has also worked, since the founding of the company, with the Icelandic designer Erla Sólveig Oskarsdóttir. Most designs from the current ames collection originate from the internationally active designer based in Reykjavik.

The ames collection unites contemporary designs that can be used multi-functionally both indoors and outdoors, both in the private living space and in the display area. The product families, consisting of occasional furniture, chairs, barstools and tables, satisfy individual living wishes thanks to their many available variants. Various materials and their combinations, as well as a broad spectrum of colour, upholstery fabrics and frames should ensure unlimited design diversity.

That design is a globally comprehensible language, is also shown by the extremely successful Sala project. The "ames sala by sebastian herkner" home collection celebrated its premiere on the occasion of imm cologne 2016: the furniture company presented a series of modern living accessories designed by the German designer Sebastian Herkner and produced in Colombia, primarily from natural materials by small, traditional manufactories.

"The ames sala collection is inspired by the country and people, as well as by the traditional craftsmanship of Colombia. Thus the diversity and special features of the country are reflected in the forms and colours of the designs", is how Sebastian Herkner acknowledges the intercultural principle of this collection. "I was especially inspired by archetypical forms I encountered in the 'Museo del Oro' (museum of gold) in Bogota. The Home Collection bears my signature, but is located in Colombia, where all products of the collection are produced by hand and in accordance with old traditions."

The wicker chairs of the collection now also include "Vis-a-Vis", a chair for two. It is produced in Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast from plastic fibres and steel pipe, and in a "momposino" weaving technique that is typical for this region. Sebastian Herkner designed the "caribe" furniture series on this basis.

Sophisticated Living – individual, authentic, creative and … lively!

No, it shouldn't be boring, the upholstered furniture from Sophisticated Living. To convey an inspiring lifestyle; that was the basic idea of the family-owned company founded in 2006 by Ralf Hüllemann, which continued to grow over the last ten years to become a fixture of the industry with the support of interior designer Saskia Thomas and industrial engineer Sebastian Hüllemann. Dedicated to a love of water, waves and nature, the creative team of surfing enthusiasts designs and sells living and sleeping furniture that embodies freedom, clarity and a unique view of life. Which is why the products bear names originating from surfing jargon, because, according to the credo of the furniture makers from Karlsruhe, one can sit on them and lie on them as if one were in harmony with a wave: at the right time and in the right place! "The challenge of surfing lies in the absolute concentration on the wave, the moment and becoming one with nature and movement. No two are the same, one has no time to think, and must react to the dynamic of the water. To change perspective again and again requires a high degree of creativity. Every person is an individual, and so we also have to reinvent ourselves here again and again", is how Ralf Hüllemann draws parallels with the interiors market.

From the box spring bed through armchairs and benches to modern, custom-made sofas, all innovative ideas are subject to high requirements for quality, individual designing freedom and moderate prices at Sophisticated Living. The urban trendsetters are always further developing their offering, like, for example, with their own fabric collection or environmentally-friendly production processes. The Solid Wave collection launched for imm cologne 2015 not only caused a furore in the media, but also surfed a wave of success with the mega-trend "German Gemütlichkeit". The special highlight is the oversized cuddle blanket fastened to the sofa with loops. It is padded like a bed blanket and invites lounging.

Janua – the wood manufactory

The innovative handling of the oldest material in the world, wood, has very quickly made the family-operated Janua manufactory in southern Bavaria a trendsetter in the design segment. Those who take a closer look at a table, sideboard, shelving unit, cabinet or bed from Janua experience the difference right up close: founder and owner Christian Seisenberger and his 18-member team are guided by the liveliness inherent to every piece of wood. Since 2005, in St. Wolfgang in Bavaria, they have formed the material, treated it with respect and given it space to unfurl its charm.

The best example of this surprising new way of surface processing is the SK 01 Monolith table. Its tabletop is carved in one piece from the tree with chainsaws. Stefan Knopp rediscovered the ancient process and perfected it for the processing of furniture surfaces. More compact, but no less impressive, is the BC 05 Stomp coffee table. The furniture designed in 2016 by the designers Birgit Hoffmann and Christoph Kahleyss takes its seemingly archaic effect from the consciously deployed contrast between the solid tree disc and an extremely sophisticated metal frame. The solid wood table BB 11 Clamp, which was designed for Janua by Bernd Benninghoff, has in the meantime taken its place among the classics. The tabletop consists of individual wooden planks, some centuries old upon request, that are held together without glue by two adjustable steel clasps. Janua is closely linked with the interior brand freifrau. But that is another story.

Walter Knoll – Purveyor to the Royal Court and high-end brand

Walter Knoll has the ambition of designing living spaces. The history of the furniture family spread throughout the world began in 1865 with a leather business in Stuttgart: Wilhelm Knoll, the originator of the Knoll dynasty, opened the doors of his "Leder Geschäft" (leather business) on 6 June 1865. The leather goods and the upholstered furniture of Wilhelm Knoll are distinguished by top-class craftsmanship. "Knoll Leder" becomes the trademark, and the ruling house of Württemberg honours Wilhelm Knoll as "Purveyor to the Royal Court". The company repeatedly set benchmarks in the history of design, created classics and icons of the avant garde.

Since the end of the last century, the company has grown continually, has increased its output twelvefold, and is today one of the leading manufacturers in the international high-end interiors segment, and this for both the private and the office segments. In cooperation with renowned architects and designers, including Norman Foster and PearsonLloyd from the United Kingdom, EOOS from Austria, Ben van Berkel from the Netherlands, Kengo Kuma from Japan, as well as Claudio Bellini from Italy, furniture and installations are created for buildings around the world, for corporate offices, social and public buildings, as well as for brand worlds. Decors in properties extend from the European Central Bank in Frankfurt to the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi-Arabia, from the restaurant in Stockholm to the conference room in Tokyo, from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and banks in Dubai to the Hearst Building in New York. However, the quality products of the company based in the south of Stuttgart are also a brand found in family homes. More than 130 international design awards in the last 20 years demonstrate the design competence of the company. The furniture family Benz bought the Walter Knoll company in 1993. Markus Benz, the oldest son, has since managed the business.