Stefan Diez’s Full House of is not full of stuff – he uses the metaphor to demonstrate the way his practice functions. “Our studio is an open house, where people we work with y in and out. The door is always open. I see it as a networking hub containing many cells.” He also refers to a Poker game, where a full house is two uneven sets of matching cards. “Winning the game not only depends on your luck but also on your talent and decision-making as a player.” Full House displays Diez’s international award-winning projects, lighting fixtures, furniture, and everyday objects for manufacturers such as e15, Thonet, Hay, Wilkhahn, and EMU, as well as on-going projects like the Guise luminaire for Vibia, the BANDIT table for e15, and the D1/D2 chairs for Wagner, along with various unpublished projects. The expo offers us a fair glimpse into his attitude as a designer. “The ingredients of each project are: experiment, curiosity, and lots of passion. Every project comes with new parameters, which is super fascinating. In this presentation we show the essence of the process.”

As a young man, Diez spent some time in India. “India was an important experience for me”, he says. “The Indian concept of a home is a full house – there’s a constant coming and going of people, whether it is a servant bringing in the sh or a neighbour dropping by for a chat. When having a conversation, people also come closer to one another than Western people do.” This togetherness and hospitality seem to have inspired Diez’s own life and work, including his studio in Munich and this exhibition. “Besides connecting with people through the Internet, you also need to have a good time together in real life. Thus, at our studio we cook and eat together. We share good times.”

Leo chair for e15, 2010 © Stefan Diez Office
He considers this the right moment to create such an exhibition. “There is a momentum that we as designers understand, making us feel that we can make a difference. Today we have huge new possibilities to create”, Diez says, citing his collaboration with Danish furniture manufacturer Hay as an example. “A fantastic company with great access to the market and an awareness of what people want. I see designers as collectors of a treasure – crafts, for instance – that became outsourced and lost in a disparate network. If you want to make something substantial, you have to go beyond the eclecticism we’ve seen during the past 10 to 15 years. We need companies that are able and willing to invest in collaborations with designers. This willingness exists today. Companies are investing in projects from scratch, collaborating with designers who are paid properly.”

It’s no coincidence that Full House is taking place in Cologne. “Because of IMM, we have been able to work with several brands that, like Hay, are willing to invest in this project. In the context of the fair, everybody benefits from such an undertaking.” Even though IMM, with its predominant focus on what sells on the market, is considered by some as less thrilling than say, the Salone del Mobile in Milan? Diez has a clear opinion on the matter. “Of course, it can be fantastic to go to a prototype show, to discover the result of rampant creativity or mind-blowing novelties. But if, as a designer at the fair, you have great stuff that will never go into production, it just doesn’t feel satisfactory. We are all fed up with ideas and prototypes that only leave their trace as an Instagram post. With computer simulations you can design whatever you want, but in the end you only create anti-climaxes, because those fabulous projects will never come to fruition. So let’s not show too many prototypes; let’s develop our ideas and prototypes into a project and then show that.” In Cologne during IMM, for example.

ROPE TRICK table lamp for Wrong.London, 2015 © Stefan Diez Office Photo: Jonathan Mauloubier
Full House, MAKK – Museum of Applied Arts Cologne, 17 January – 11 June 2017 Opening: 16 January, in the evening An der Rechtschule, 50667 Köln makk.de

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FULL HOUSE Exhibition at MAKK Photo © Gerhardt Kellermann
SOBA bamboo bench for Japan Creative, 2015 © Stefan Diez Office Photo: Jonathan Mauloubier
Making of NEW ORDER shelving system for Hay, 2016 © Stefan Diez Office