How would you like to go to work in a castle every day? That's the reality for employees of Sieger Design, whose offices are at Schloss Harkotten, an 18th century hunting lodge (complete with moat!) in the German countryside.
Driving in the gates, I was reminded a little bit of the Von Trapp house from the Sound of Music. There's even a similarly impressive double staircase in the foyer (although the staircase from the movie was actually built in a studio, and is not part of the house where the exterior shots were filmed). In this setting, the firm's modern designs make for a delicious contrast.
On the first floor, there's an impressive conference room/reception space, which boasts a terrace that looks out over the baroque gardens, filled with modern sculptures created by artist friends of the Siegers. On the second floor are offices and a library; in the basement is a 'water lab', where designers can test out fixtures and sinks the firm designs for companies like Duravit, Dornbracht, and Alape, to see what the designs will look like when in use. The building to the left of the main house contains a showroom that displays products from Sieger's own line, as well as more offices on the second floor. Throughout the property, in carpets and on walls and furniture, is Sieger Design's signature color, a deep, regal purple that's almost blue.
Schloss Harkotten was built as a hunting lodge for Baron Von Kettler in 1752. It's still owned by his descendants, and rented by the Sieger family, who restored and updated the property when they made it their office in 1988. Today the firm has thirty employees working in product design, graphic design, and marketing consultancy.
The company was founded in 1965 by Dieter Siegler, who trained as an architect and later built a reputation designing interiors for luxury yachts. From there — designing interiors to meet the needs of demanding clients in the smallest of spaces — it was a logical step to bathroom design. In the 80s, Sieger Design began working with companies like Alape, Duravit, and Dornbracht to create bathroom fixtures in their signature streamlined style. From there, the firm has expanded to many different kinds of projects — they've created a TV for Sony, a line of cutlery for WMF, and even developed a bathroom design for Deutsche Bahn (German Rail). In 2005, the firm launched its own line, with clothing, furniture, and accessories in modern shapes and bold colors. Today Sieger Design is managed by Dieter Siegler's two sons, Christian and Michael; Christian works on the marketing end, while Michael is in charge of design.
In my visit to Schloss Harkotten, I had the pleasure of meeting with Christian Sieger, who gave us a tour of the premises and told us a little about Sieger's design philosophy. There's a lot of pressure in the design world, he explained, to make products as innovative and cutting-edge as possible. But if the products are so unusual that no one wants to purchase them, the manufacturers and designers are both out of work. In their work, Sieger Design seeks to strike a balance between cutting-edge design and the realities of making products for market. After all, Christian pointed out, if you design a faucet and it's so unusual that no one buys it, it's not really a faucet — it's a work of art that looks like a faucet.
Judging by the firm's success, it looks like they've done a wonderful job of balancing these two concerns. I'm sure it doesn't hurt to work every day in such an inspiring setting. I might have a serious case of workspace envy.
Resources of Note:
- • Many of the products you see in the photos are from Sieger Design's own line of furniture and housewares.
(Images: Nancy Mitchell)
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