Austrian design studio STEININGER creates elegant, pioneering concepts that combine clean modernity with timeless beauty
“Aesthetics is function,” says Martin Steininger, Creative Director of the eponymous Austrian design studio. “I don’t believe in the primacy of function over form. Everything must look appealing. It’s important that people love a product and want it around them, that it beautifies their lives.”
The STEININGER team design, plan and build elegant modern architecture, interiors and furnishings, and Martin’s passion for minimalism informs everything. Clean-lined pieces are made by skilled craftsmen from premium, natural and sustainable materials, such as brass, steel and stone. Colours are muted, mainly monochrome, with touches of golds and reds. “For me, minimalism isn’t a fashion but an attitude,” explains Martin. “Good design is unobtrusive. Beauty lies in clarity and simplicity – in purity.”
Based in St Martin, northern Austria, STEININGER is a family-run business, founded in 1933 by Martin’s grandfather. It now has monobrand showrooms in Austria and Germany, as well as a London office, where customers can buy products and learn about STEININGER design concepts from designers and craftsmen. The studio specialises in private residential and commercial, as well as yacht and aircraft, projects.
Martin envisions every product himself, starting with pen and paper. He is inspired by architecture, particularly the work of architects Adolf Loos, Josef Hoffmann, Walter Gropius and Achille Castiglioni, and art, including pieces by Donald Judd. Further inspiration comes from his travels, particularly in the natural world, the different cultures he discovers and the fashions people wear. “It’s the little details you see – they could be 100 years old – which you can use in a new product or building and take to a new level,” he says.
The company’s interior designs are as outstanding and minimalist as its architecture. Its signature kitchens include the PURE monolithic kitchen island, made from wood, stainless steel and concrete – which caused a stir when it was designed in 2010. “It was unusual to think of using concrete as a kitchen material,” recalls Martin. “In fact, it was unique to use a building material for furniture. Concrete is difficult to work with, raw and rough, but it looks amazing. It’s a material that develops its own patina as you work with it, which makes it a personalised product, one that tells a story and becomes a masterpiece.”
Further innovations include the FOLD metal kitchen block, which resembles an origami piece and appears to float – the company describes it as “sculpture as a kitchen”. A more recent design is the ROCK.AIR kitchen in powder-coated steel, created for outdoors, which features a flexible modular design. Such work has won STEININGER several design awards, such as Gold in the German Design Award 2023, Winner in Archiproducts Design Awards 2022 and Best of the Best for Innovative Architecture at the Iconic Awards 2022.
New showrooms are planned in several major cities. The product range is also expanding to encompass a complete interiors collection, with bathroom furniture and developments in accessories such as vases and lamps. The FOLD vase, for example, has the aesthetic of the FOLD kitchen, and comes in four sizes, each one a single piece of folded metal.
“We aim to make STEININGER a whole home concept, with every item fitting our design philosophy,” says Martin. “We’re developing new ideas, shapes and materials. My vision is that everybody should one day be able to own one of our luxury pieces, small or large.”