For roughly 50 years, Sieger Design has been at the forefront of the German industry, creating some of Dornbracht, Duravit, Lamy and Aliseo’s, among others, most iconic bathroom and kitchen elements. Branching out with their own SIEGER brand in 2005, the studio has expanded into ceramics (with Fürstenberg), fashion, travel accessories and home interiors. From its head office in a restored 18th century castle, Sieger crafts products that are equal parts innovative, chic, fun and functional. Squarefoot chats with CEO and director of marketing Christian Sieger.
Sieger Design has been around for decades as an industrial designer and consultant. What inspired SIEGER?
We have a great relationship with Dornbracht. We’ve worked with them for 30 years and two generational changes in both family businesses, but this is not that easy to find. Lots of people come in and use you for two or three years and say, “Thanks for consulting,” and that’s it. We thought maybe it was time to create something that belongs to us.
Is it my imagination or is the general consumer more design aware than they were 10 or 20 years ago?
Absolutely. That’s something I can feel, and I’m very happy about it. It’s difficult to find a poorly designed product these days. Ten years ago there were lots of bad TV screens to go with a few nice ones. Most of the time they’re well designed now; maybe you have a better relationship yourself with Philips over Samsung. IKEA is a great example, where design is really democratising and available to a large group of people. The quality may not be what it is with Miele but at their price point they are the solution. I’ve been using Apple for 30 years, it was always unique and different but iPhones are in the hands of millions of people and they all appreciate the design — how it looks and how it functions. That’s what it’s all about. There’s an intuition about design that helps.
How do you define good design?
Functionality must come first. It has to be intuitive. I don’t want products that bring extra complexity to my life. And the aesthetics must create an emotional reaction. It’s more than just owning hardware and impressing friends with a big leather sofa, or telling them about what a hassle the big marble bathtub was to get in. I want something that helps me live my life easier.
Do you think good design is just for the rich or does it really trickle down?
I think it does. New technology is always expensive and only available to a few people. Seat heating in cars in the beginning was only in premium cars, and now they all have it. No problem. These days — and we’ve encountered this — if you don’t reach certain quantities of production it’s very difficult to create certain innovational processes. My old Range Rover’s GPS wasn’t as good as the one in the company’s Volkswagen. That’s 5,000 versus 500,000 … So the middle segment will also play more of a role for certain technical developments where they can be refined at the higher end. They need each other.
How much is technology influencing what you do?
The [Dornbracht] Sensory Sky, for example, is a fully electronically driven shower that brings together daylight quality senses and different temperature intensities of the water and basically copies nature’s phenomena and brings them into your house … Water has to physically move through a tube but we can separate the valves and controls; you can have pre-set controls and pre-set scenarios. Technology makes that kind of thing possible.
What do you see as some major changes the design industry is looking at in the coming years?
3D printing. Maybe not a toilet but perhaps you can print a toilet brush. We’ll be able to make products at home at a quality level where we won’t be able to tell the difference from classical manufacturing. This is something we could not imagine 20 years ago. I mean, you can cut a movie in HD on your iPhone. That’s going to be one of the biggest revolutions.
Luckily [for us] mankind still needs someone to tell them how to bring it all together. Creativity is still something you can’t put into two digits.