Hotel Fritz Lauterbad
Urban Soul meets Black Forest

When it comes to stylish design hotels, you automatically think of vibrant metropolises such as Berlin, Munich, Hamburg or Frankfurt. But Freudenstadt? Very few people would think of this peaceful little town in the Black Forest. That will change, Steffen Schillinger must have thought to himself when he bought the out-dated “Waldhotel Zollernblick” in Freudenstadt-Lauterbad back in 2016 with the aim of realising his vision of a hotel that combines big-city design with Black Forest comfort.

Under the banner of “Urban Soul meets Black Forest”, the building complex transformed itself within three years into a modern flagship hotel that meets the highest design requirements both inside and out. The hotel was opened under the new name “Hotel Fritz Lauterbad” in July 2019. We spoke to Hotel Manager Steffen Schillinger about thinking outside of the box, how he feels about his native Black Forest and his exclusive partnership with ROLF BENZ.

Mr Schillinger, in your industry you are regarded as “the wild one”. Why is that?

I honestly don’t know how I got that name. Perhaps because of a press article on a previous project, the Berghütte Lauterbad – an outing and event location that we opened in 2014. Just like in the “Fritz”, we thought out of the box with the Berghütte and surprise our guests there with a mix of the traditional and modern. However, I can really identify with the role of “the wild one”. I’m not someone who rehashes classic ideas. I get ants in my pants and just love going off the beaten track to try out something new and do things differently.

You’ve proven that impressively with your new Hotel Fritz Lauterbad. How did you get the idea of “Urban Soul meets Black Forest”?

Right away I knew that the hotel needed a fresh start with a sustainable concept. The idea of “Urban Soul meets Black Forest” came to me on a hotel scouting tour. I looked at lots of different hotels for inspiration, in Austria and in Switzerland but also in cities such as New York, Paris and Amsterdam. I collected all sorts of impressions on my tour and loads of photos. It just clicked at some point.

What do you mean by “Urban Soul meets Black Forest”?

Our concept is aimed at design-oriented guests with a penchant for an urban lifestyle and beautiful nature. I personally love the city and lived for a long time in Cologne and Frankfurt. I like the urban attitude to life and good design. But I also like the Black Forest. A lot. So why not combine both city flair and rural tranquillity? That’s exactly what  we offer our guests in the “Fritz”.

You’ve partnered exclusively with ROLF BENZ for the interior design of the “Fritz”. How did that come about?

I had the idea of having a partner who would furnish the whole hotel with high quality and stylish furniture early on. I got talking to the managers during a Rolf Benz event at our Berghütte and I told them about the plans for our new hotel concept.

At ROLF BENZ they were immediately full of enthusiasm. We hit it off right away. Together we thought about the best way to implement the “Urban Soul meets Black Forest” concept in terms of design. At some point I saw some images of the ROLF BENZ stand at the furniture fair in Milan. These hit the nail on the head, reflecting exactly what we were looking for. From that point we started selecting furniture, colours and materials. We signed everything off in December 2018 and finally assembled the furniture in mid May 2019. That was a great feeling!

What do you associate with the ROLF BENZ brand?

Just like our hotel, the name ROLF BENZ stands for top Black Forest quality. The items of furniture from Nagold are incredibly stylish, timeless and uniquely comfortable. They have models that have been popular for decades. Real classics. Lots of my acquaintances and relatives also have ROLF BENZ furniture in their living rooms. Some of them are donkeys years old but today they still look as modern as the day they were bought.   

You weren’t only responsible for the interior design, you designed the hotel’s logo and corporate design as well. Have you always been so creative?

I used to draw a lot when I was a little kid. I’ve always been a visual sort of person and I’ve always had a thing for design and architecture. If I wasn’t a hotelier, I’d probably have my own design or architect’s office.

You come from a family of hoteliers from the Black Forest that has been managing the well-known Wellnesshotel Lauterbad for many years. How’s it going working with your parents?

My parents are exemplary doers, creators, thoroughbred gastronomes and hosts. I’ve learned a huge amount from them and I’m still learning. We work well together as a team of three, we consult closely with each other and make important decisions together. It was like that when we were planning the “Fritz”. They are gradually handing over more responsibility to me because they want to travel more for one thing. Nevertheless, they are still very active and present. They love working in the business and looking after the guests and that’s great. I’m enormously thankful to them for that.    

Your guests can recharge their batteries at the “Fritz” in peace and quiet. How do you relax?

That’s not so easy at the moment. Although things have quietened down a bit since we completed and opened the “Fritz” at the end of July, I’m still working flat out on operational issues. If I need to get some rest now and then, I go into nature and take photographs. That has a really calming effect on me. I’m planning to go on a hiking tour with my girlfriend soon. Hiking boots on, mobile off and simply enjoy the peace and quiet. That grounds me.

WOW as far as the eye can see

The “Fritz”, which has been furnished exclusively with furniture from the ROLF BENZ and freistil ROLF BENZ brands, offers a total of 70 rooms and studios – optionally with a forest or panoramic view. At the core of the hotel is its glass lobby that combines the listed old building with the modern new-build. The seat and lounge furniture are arranged as islands and their colour corresponds to the surrounding landscape: the walls and furniture have earthy and natural tones, from green to copper and sludge.

The rooms and studios accommodate swivelling versions of the Rolf Benz 684 armchair, the freistil 173 armchair, the freistil 175 sofa and the Rolf Benz 8480 and Rolf Benz 973 coffee tables. Different versions of the Rolf Benz 650 are used as a desk chair and in different versions in the bistro bar, in the restaurant and – in a stackable design – in the conference room.

Rolf Benz ADDIT
Genesis of a Favourite Place

With Rolf Benz ADDIT, Tina Bunyaprasit and Werner Aisslinger have developed a progressive, modular sofa system with iconic potential and once again demonstrated their visionary spirit and technical expertise. The innovative sofa landscape opens up completely new perspectives for individual living and shows the Rolf Benz brand from an unusually playful side without losing any of its characteristic clarity. Working closely together with Rolf Benz, the two designers from Berlin have succeeded in formulating a response to our hyper-individualised times in the form of a sofa, if you will.

We spoke to the two designers about the creation process from their assignment to the sofa’s première at the Salone del Mobile 2019.

Phase 1: from the briefing to the design

Ms Bunyaprasit, Mr Aisslinger, how do you as designers approach such a task? Where do you start?

W. Aisslinger: First of all, we received an extremely detailed and really good briefing from Rolf Benz – with precise specifications but enough leeway for our own ideas at the same time. That’s the basis of our work. Ideally, you would then leave the briefing to sink in for a while. The initial idea sketches follow on later.

T. Bunyaprasit: It can help to think about what you would actually like. What’s still lacking perhaps in this sofa world and what you would like to bring into that world. Ultimately, such a commission is always a great opportunity to fulfil your own wishes.

What inspires you?

W. Aisslinger: We travel a great deal. Naturally, this is also reflected in our different commissions and projects. We also live in a very inspirational city. Every day is an inspiration in Berlin. It’s often enough simply to walk through the neighbourhood. As a designer you soak up your environment and what you see or experience flows into your own work.

T. Bunyaprasit: Inspiration can be many things, including looking back on the past. Childhood memories, for example. You can reminisce and question what you previously experienced. When it comes to sofas, well-being and this feeling of security play an important role. That’s where looking backwards can be really useful.

What was the idea behind Rolf Benz ADDIT?

T. Bunyaprasit: It was about developing a sofa system that serves as a universal favourite place, taking all facets of modern everyday life into account. The system sees itself as a type of modular system. You can combine different types of components as you like. This special flexibility gives the whole thing something really personal.

W. Aisslinger: We wanted to create a favourite spot. A collage world. Your own personal cabinet of curiosities. A place where things accumulate that originate from your own life or are part of the modular system. We’ve been thinking about collages for a while. We’re not trying to build monochromatic style collections, but bring together different materials, worlds and surfaces. As designers, we think of ourselves as a kind of DJ who mixes the whole thing up so that it works both for end customers and for the Rolf Benz brand.

Phase 2: from paper to implementation

How does the idea materialise?

T. Bunyaprasit: We draw a lot of sketches. We create them not just in the traditional sense at our desk in the studio, but also spontaneously on a serviette during lunch in a restaurant, for example. At the start everything is pretty scrawly. But then we go relatively quickly to the 3D program to outline pretty realistic proportions. Everything is created digitally on the screen first of all and then implemented analogously using real models.

W. Aisslinger: Since a sofa is usually free-standing in a room, it has to look good from all angles. Including from the back. We can use our software tools to check that carefully. Rolf Benz then builds the samples on that basis. So actually everything moves relatively quickly from the 3D computer phase to real volume models.

How do you proceed when selecting materials? What do you look for in particular?

T. Bunyaprasit: We collect lots of materials and have a large materials warehouse accordingly. This gives us the opportunity of combining different materials as the fancy takes us and experimenting with their look and feel.

W. Aisslinger: Honest, authentic materials are particularly important to us. Nothing artificial. Glass, stone, fabrics, leather – and beautiful textures. The finishes are very important, so whether something is matt or shiny. Or grainy. It’s a mix. And, of course, the know-how and world of Rolf Benz plays a crucial role as well. In specific terms, that means: Which materials are available? What does the latest fabric collection look like?

Phase 3: team work on the prototypes

What happens in the prototype phase?

W. Aisslinger: It’s a really exciting and symbiotic moment. There’s a reconciliation between the Rolf Benz brand and us as the design team. During the prototype phase, we sit down together with the engineers and developers and carefully examine everything. Where does the visual appearance take priority and where does construction count? Are there any possible savings potentials without impacting the quality? Questions like these need to be answered in the team during the prototype phase.

T. Bunyaprasit: For me, the prototype phase is the most exciting phase. You finally have the real sofa in front of you, you can touch it and sit down on it. You can often see lots of potential for optimisation immediately.

Which tests does the prototype have to withstand?

T. Bunyaprasit: First of all you walk around the sofa and assess it from top to bottom. You touch it. Sit on it. You also let yourself fall onto the sofa to see if it feels good. And then you also consider whether it’s the right size.

W. Aisslinger: It has a lot to do with ergonomics and seating comfort, of course. But in the case of ADDIT, it was about showcasing effortlessness and further development. However, Rolf Benz did explicitly ask for something progressive and bringing all this together was a considerable challenge. But after all, that’s precisely what makes our job so appealing.

Phase 4: from prototype to production

What’s special about the production phase?

W. Aisslinger: What’s exciting at Rolf Benz is that everything is entirely made in Germany. We’re talking here about the highest processing quality. Ultimately, it’s a matter of implementing this high quality requirement down to the last detail. Each individual seam is considered carefully: Is this the right and best-possible solution? Where does the seam start and where does it end? Then you look at the construction elements such as metal intersections and shaping. This is where you finely tune the design and it’s especially fun. Particularly with a top-class partner such as Rolf Benz who is extremely well-versed in this regard and places great store on ultimate perfection.

T. Bunyaprasit: Handcrafted perfection is becoming increasingly important. It’s great when one has the opportunity to achieve this high quality craftsmanship consistently right down to the smallest detail, as was the case here with Rolf Benz.

Phase 5: the finished product

What are the design highlights of Rolf Benz ADDIT?

W. Aisslinger: Rolf Benz ADDIT offers a whole range of great highlights. The superbly manufactured cushions with their great seams and their pleasant volume for excellent seating comfort. Or the elegant platform that makes the sofa look like it's floating. Then there’s the underlying frame with its plug-in options for small side tables or shelving, for example. After all, ADDIT isn't just a sofa. It’s a whole landscape. A big, well thought out modular system that is playful, friendly and inviting.

T. Bunyaprasit: Another special feature is the system’s effortlessness. It’s a relatively light piece of furniture with comfortably soft cushions. It doesn’t just look cosy, it is cosy. It’s a landscape that can grow progressively. There’s nothing static that could prevent personal growth. The whole system has a pleasing sense of airiness that enables its owners to think in a different light.

Rolf Benz ADDIT consists of which components?

W. Aisslinger: Rolf Benz ADDIT is made up of the sofa, armchair, small side tables, plug-in trays, free-standing side tables, shelving options and a finely coordinated rug collection. It will be followed by additional elements. The modular system will continue to grow and offer new possibilities. We want to continue building on the ADDIT world together with Rolf Benz. It’s an exciting project.

At the end of this long development process, what was your greatest challenge? What was the most fun?

W. Aisslinger: Interpreting the high Rolf Benz quality in such a light and airy and relaxed way was a challenge that was unbelievably fun at the same time.

SALONE DEL MOBILE MILANO 2019
New frontiers in Milan

New trends, new designs, new living concepts: at the Salone del Mobile Milano trade fair, the irrepressible creative enthusiasm and innovative strength of the international furnishings and furniture sector can be seen in all their glory. The 58th edition of the popular classic trade fair involves all sorts of surprises – once again proving that the story of how we live is nowhere near over, but is constantly being rewritten and updated by ambitious designers.

Lots of news and a true innovation

Of course, Rolf Benz is once again full of surprises and, with its new, outside-of-the-box products, makes it clear that “made in Germany” with world-class design is still a force to be reckoned with. Take the new, super modular Rolf Benz ADDIT sofa landscape from Werner Aisslinger and Tina Bunyaprasit, for instance. It is an example of a new living philosophy that focuses resolutely on the personality of the residents and offers the greatest possible design scope. Rolf Benz ADDIT views itself as your absolutely and universally favourite place within your own four walls. The sofa as a conversation area. As a home office. As a media point. As a play area. As a haven of peace. As a family meeting point. In short: all aspects of life are played out here. The additive components of the domestic "playground" are shelving, brackets and trays, as well as optional coffee tables and rugs that coordinate with Rolf Benz ADDIT.

Notwithstanding its multi-functionality, a dining table with space for the whole family to meet is and remains a cultural achievement that can’t easily be replaced. This doesn’t mean that dining culture can’t evolve, however. Once again, Rolf Benz has thought outside of the box. To the Far East. The result? Voilà: the sculptural-looking Rolf Benz 986 dining table with optional rotating tray. The round table is made entirely of high-quality natural stone and pays homage to Chinese cuisine. Based on a design by This Weber, it will certainly attract plenty of admirers, not only in Asia.

And yet something else is in the limelight. It’s a real innovation. A highlight – or rather two – with which Rolf Benz is literally penetrating new spheres at the Milan Furniture Fair and starting an entirely new chapter: for the first time in the company’s history, a separate bed collection is being presented in the name of Rolf Benz SLEEPING.

 

An award-worthy good night’s sleep

Rolf Benz SONO and Rolf Benz TONDO are the names of the new bed series that from now on will stylishly accompany people seeking peace and quiet through the night. Rolf Benz SONO comes from Beck Design, while Rolf Benz TONDO is a creation from Labsdesign. But wait a moment…TONDO? Wasn’t there something like this? That’s right: the TONDO bed is an evolution of the sofa with the same name, which premièred three years ago in Milan, winning the "best of the best", the highest prize in the "ICONIC AWARDS Interior Innovation" in 2017. These are the best requirements for an award-worthy good night’s sleep.

A bed like a hug

Whether placed near to the wall or free-standing in the room, the down-to-the-floor Rolf Benz TONDO bed makes a good impression in any situation. Its loose back cushions mean you can comfortably lean against it while sitting upright. The curved headboard even enables you to sit next to each other. The innovative "cuddle lounge" is available in three widths and two lengths and also as a box spring bed or as a classic version with mattress and slatted frame. If you can’t get enough of the superbly casual appearance, you can add the wonderfully corresponding occasional furniture to your bedroom: the Rolf Benz 917 seat bench, the Rolf Benz 916 bedside table and the Rolf Benz 907 valet stand complete the ensemble.

Perfect craftsmanship

The first thing that you notice about the Rolf Benz SONO designer bed is the headboard with its elaborate diamond-shaped pleating. Yet despite its appealingly subtle opulence, the bed appears weightless and elegant, not least thanks to its inset delicate legs. Like Rolf Benz TONDO, SONO is also available in three widths and two lengths and also as a box spring bed or with a mattress and slatted frame. In addition to the bed, Beck Design has created the Rolf Benz 918 upholstered bench which also has sophisticated pleating. It’s just a shame that your eyes are closed as you sleep…

Berlinale 2019
People, Bears, Sensations – the Capital in a Film Frenzy

Berlin is energy. Berlin is adventure. Berlin is diversity. In short: Berlin is a bit of everything and anything but monotonous. The same also holds true for the Berlinale, which is rolling out the red carpet for the 69th time between 7th and 17th February – and once again attracting national and international guests as well as Hollywood greats such as Christian Bale. The film festival of superlatives keeps the city on its toes with eleven jam-packed days and all-night parties. Berlin’s star is now shining beyond the city’s boundaries and out into the whole (film) world.

Golden Gloves and Die Toten Hosen

With a total of 500,000 cinema-goers, the 69th Berlinale once again takes cinema-hungry fans from all over the world on a cinematic journey of discovery right through the international film landscape. Over 400 films from 74 countries, covering a wide range of topics. And highly topical: they tackle gender equality, child exploitation, the erosion of traditional family patterns, food in this age of globally-operating agriculture and food corporations, as well as the working environment of the future. Added to this are portraits of artists – from Brecht to PJ Harvey right up to Die Toten Hosen. However, the program also includes horror thrillers such as Fatih Akins’ “The Golden Glove”. As one of 16 competition films, he is fighting for the much coveted bears and the favour of the jury, chaired by Oscar winner Juliette Binoche.

A Hollywood-Ready Appearance

Just like in 2018, ROLF BENZ is once again “Official Supplier” to the Berlin International Film Festival. As well as the Berlinale VIP Club (“Dieter Kosslicks’ living room”), the lounge areas in the Potsdamer Platz arcades and the Berlinale Rooftop Café offering breath-taking panoramic views of the city, the Audi Berlinale Lounge and the two exclusive Partner Lounges in the Berlinale Palast are presented in the unmistakeably clear ROLF BENZ design language.

Carefully curated interior design incorporating the comfortable Rolf Benz NUVOLA modular sofa, the armchairs in the 383 and 384 ranges or the 950 cube seat characterise the lounge atmosphere of the locations, creating a casual feel-good atmosphere that invites you to stay a while and relax. “We are pleased that we can now welcome our national and international guests also to the Partner Lounges in the Berlinale Palast in proper style with furniture from Rolf Benz,” says Kathrin Schafroth, Head of Sponsorship of the Berlin International Film Festival. 

Berlinale Up Close

The two Partner Lounges in the Berlinale Palast and the two-storey Audi Berlinale Lounge offer a perfect view of the red carpet. This is, without a doubt, the most relaxing way to watch the hustle and bustle of the Berlinale. Whereas the Audi Berlinale Lounge is accessible to the public and offers a varied program ranging from yoga sessions to interesting talks and evening parties, the two Partner Lounges serve as an exclusive meeting point for the sponsors and invited festival guests.

You can still breathe in the Berlinale air even if you’re not on the red carpet. After all, we’re talking about a total of 35 venues, spread out across the entire city. Why not provide a stylish ambience at the “branches” of the Berlinale, they wondered at ROLF BENZ. No sooner said than done: raise the curtain on probably the most beautiful cinema seat in the world (Rolf Benz 384) and the brilliantly refurbished venues of Filmtheater am Friedrichshain, Odeon, Zoo Palast, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Haus der Berlinale Festspiele and also HAU Hebbel am Ufer.

Thanks Dieter, Thanks Berlin

After 18 successful and eventful years, Festival Director Dieter Kosslick will take off his hat – and scarf – at the end of the 69th Berlinale and pass, in his own words, “the best job in the world” on to his successors, Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian. We wish the new co-managers much success and say thank you, Dieter, for 18 inspirational years!

Speaking of the winds of change: seven of the 16 competition films that are expected to win awards or bears are the work of female directors. That’s a record level. And also a clear, important signal for the future. Berlin has recognised the signs of the time. And that’s a good Thing.

IMM COLOGNE 2019
New appearance. New sofa bench.

If something is comfortable and warm, we call it “cosy”. A term which, in the first instance, doesn’t exactly describe the hectic activity at one of the most important home furnishing exhibitions with 1,355 exhibitors from all over the world. And yet, at the 70th imm cologne this year, it was surprisingly “cosy” – at the Rolf Benz stand at least.

“Cosiness isn’t necessarily tied to a specific place. You find it wherever you can relax. On your own, together as a couple, with friends, or even at a trade fair,” according to Sebastian Labs and Gunther Kleinert from Hamburg design studio labsdesign, which designed the Rolf Benz stand as well as the new Rolf Benz VOLO couch range.

Design made in Hamburg

Designers and interior designers work hand-in-hand at labsdesign. The prize-winning design studio has frequently worked with Rolf Benz in the past. The creative professionals from Hamburg have designed coffee tables, armchairs, sofas, trade fair stands and the Rolf Benz loft at its headquarters in Nagold. However, entire urban villas, country houses, concept stores, restaurants and hotels such as Til Schweiger’s “Barefoot Hotel” at the beach of Timmendorfer Strand also bear the signature of labsdesign.

“Whether it’s a sofa or a town house, we love new challenges. Each project starts with an initial image in our mind, which gradually matures and quite literally takes on an increasingly concrete form. This is followed by lots of sketches, 3D models and studies. This continues until finally, all of the proportions are right,” explains Sebastian Labs.

Cosy – and fully detached

With its new modular sofa system, Rolf Benz VOLO, labsdesign has once again provided a thoroughly convincing answer to the question of how a modern living environment can be cosy yet flexible and contemporary at the same time. Rolf Benz VOLO scores points not only with its extraordinary seating comfort but also the sense of pure lightness that it conveys. Its product name could hardly be more apt: “VOLO comes from Latin and means: I'm flying,” says Labs. Indeed, owing to its graceful legs and streamlined ramp that serves as an elegant platform for the comfortable cushions, the sofa appears to float weightlessly in the room.

 

 

GUNTHER KLEINERT, DESIGNER, LABSDESIGN

„We wanted to design a casual and comfortable sofa that can be combined in different ways. Right from the start, it was important to us to make the high level of comfort appear as light and mobile as possible, not heavy or clumsy“

Sit as you are

Whether you sit upright or slouch casually, Rolf Benz VOLO adapts perfectly to individual seating preferences thanks to the newly developed cushions with an integrated back roll. An increase in comfort and cosiness that the visitors who come to the Rolf Benz stand to try out the furniture, as well as the makers of labsdesign, visibly enjoy. “It’s the high degree of seating comfort and the well-thought-out design of the seating and back cushions that make VOLO so incredibly cosy,” explains Labs.

“At the same time, the sofa has a great range of possible combinations. Depending on the space available, VOLO can be arranged as a single or modular sofa. Its uniform seat frame enables different modular seating landscapes to be created. And the covers for the body, frame, back cushions and back cushion rolls can be selected to create either a unified look or different colour and material combinations,” adds Kleinert.

 

Sofa surfing for professionals

What is the personal relationship between the two designers and the sofa? “Sometimes I deliberately spend the night on the sofa. I personally find it really comfy. I think it goes back to when I used to sleep on the couch as a child in the school holidays, when I went to visit my grandma. Really happy childhood memories,” says Kleinert.

“I like to get lost in thought when I have a bit of time and space, and a good sofa definitely helps with that,” says Labs. Sebastian Labs counters our final question about his favourite sitting position with a question of his own: “You really want to know…?” He casually slips from the couch and remains seated on the rug in front of it with a grin on his face. Kind of another way of sofa surfing.

 

SEBASTIAN LABS, DESIGNER, LABSDESIGN

„I like to get lost in thought when I have a bit of time and space, and a good sofa definitely helps with that“

The „TECHART Interieur ROLF BENZ“ -
"Hygge" on the Road

The search for an individual sense of well-being isn’t only in fashion in your own home, it’s also been on the road for a long time – in the luxury car segment. The car as a representative, custom-made (dream) travel space on wheels that reflects its owner’s personality, sense of style and lifestyle, setting the stage for mobility as a sensual experience. Swabian company TECHART has embodied this spirit of the times brilliantly.

The vehicle finisher from Leonberg near Stuttgart specialises in premium customisations of Porsche models. The company provides a finely-tuned interior and exterior design service for its discriminating customers, focussing on a high-quality finish, maximum functionality and improved performance. The company’s most recent innovation: the “TECHART Interior ROLF BENZ”, developed exclusively for the Porsche Cayenne.

Interview with Bettina Hermann, who is responsible for product and design management at Rolf Benz and TECHART Managing Directors Tobias Beyer and Steven Ratz.

Mr Beyer, why did you decide to collaborate with Rolf Benz?

"The Rolf Benz name stands for excellent seating comfort. Their workmanship is of the highest quality which encompasses even the smallest detail. When we initially exchanged ideas at the furniture fair in Cologne, everyone involved was well aware how exciting things become when the world of home interiors meets automotive interiors.”

How did you at Rolf Benz approach this unusual task, Ms Hermann?

“In the preliminary stages, we attended the car showroom in Geneva to give us an idea of the current individualisation concepts offered by our competitors. Inspired by the future vision of autonomous driving, the general trend in vehicle interiors is shifting away from sporty and technical statements towards a comfortable relaxation area. The Hygge wellness trend is catching on in our cars too. Translating the unmistakeable Rolf Benz look from living rooms to vehicle interiors was an incredibly exciting assignment. It was also extremely challenging.”

What exactly were the sticking points in the project?

“Cars are subject to enormous fluctuations in climate and temperature. There’s also a great deal of light exposure. The materials that are selected have to be able to withstand these extreme conditions in the long term. Quality is essential. On top of that, vehicle interiors involve many components and details: doors, consoles, seats, steering wheel, floor mats and so on. All that has to be defined separately. Apart from the displays and a few switches, we have redesigned each individual surface of the interior. The car seats were especially challenging. We wanted to translate the rather casual style of sofa upholstery to the seats in the Cayenne. We managed to do this really well in the end, thanks to TECHART team’s excellent manual skills.”

How was it with the seats, Mr Ratz?

"One of the greatest challenges was actually working with the woollen material. It was pleasant to touch, warm, incredibly soft and completely different to leather. But with up to 870 g per running metre, it was also really temperamental, impossible to split and had a defined nap. On the one hand, we wanted the seats to be sleek and streamlined to emphasise the vehicle’s sporty components, but we also wanted to bring in an element of casual and homely well-being on the other. The fabric gathers on the side bolsters were the ideal solution for this. We tried out numerous prototype covers before finally obtaining the perfect look."

Why this material in particular, Ms Hermann?

“We were impressed by the high quality of the woollen material that we used. It’s particularly tactile and has not been widely used in vehicle interiors until now. We were really excited by the idea of translating the idea of homeliness to automotive interiors. We’ve also incorporated the woollen material in the car roof. This reduces noise in the car interior and provides great acoustics. It’s a fabric from the Rolf Benz collection which we have also used in our new products at the trade fair.”

Which other materials were used and what can you tell us about the colour scheme, Ms Hermann?

“The Rolf Benz collection is influenced by natural materials. We wanted to continue in this direction with this project too, so we decided on a combination of leather, fabric and woven floor mats. All of the materials used are extremely elegant and of the highest quality. For the colour scheme, we decided on a combination of umbra, blue and cappuccino. Powdery colours that emit warmth and a sense of elegance and safety without appearing too sweet. 

Why did you choose the champagne-coloured exterior custom paint, Mr Ratz?

“On the one hand, the delicate champagne tone sets off the vehicle’s contours perfectly. On the other, it corresponds ideally with our interior colour scheme. It also covers a broad spectrum of colour values from platinum, gold and silver, giving a classic and elegant impression.”

Mr Beyer, what else makes the Rolf Benz Edition of the Porsche Cayenne so Special?

“Our Rolf Benz Edition of the Porsche Cayenne offers pleasantly unobtrusive luxury, it conveys a sense of deceleration and guarantees a pleasant ambience. By combining lots of fabric with perfectly-matched colours and materials, we have created a unique travel space. Together with the recommended special colour for the exterior of the car, we provide our customers with a well-balanced, stylish design. We have processed over 80 m2 of the finest materials – right down to the smallest detail. The leather and fabric sections were optimally arranged and produce a coherent overall image. The footwell was entirely lined in leather. What’s more, there’s an extensive exterior package that visually reduces the vehicle’s overall size. This makes it appear more dynamic and sets the external impact of our Cayenne apart from the standard model.“

In conclusion: when a premium vehicle finisher and a premium manufacturer of upholstered furniture turn their power into motion, the result is a mini masterpiece. The Rolf Benz Edition of the Porsche Cayenne will be presented to the public for the first time at the ROLF BENZ in-house fair at the end of September 2018. Wanderlust redefined.

SALONE DEL MOBILE MILANO 2018
A Furniture Reawakening in Milan

It’s April. It’s springtime. It's Salone del Mobile! Once again, all eyes will be on the latest living trends and pioneering interior design in Milan, the capital of furniture, between 17th and 22nd April 2018. It's the 57th time that the north Italian cosmopolitan city is hosting the vibrant event with an international flair. Inspiration blooms every few minutes for the 300,000 visitors to the world’s largest furniture fair. Over 2,000 exhibitors are presenting their concepts for contemporary living, and this includes Rolf Benz with stylish furniture creations that are out of the ordinary.

Home is not a place, it’s a feeling

Rolf Benz 388, Rolf Benz 655 and Rolf Benz 988 – these are the three new product ranges with which Rolf Benz is welcoming the public to its trade fair stand. This year’s motto relating to the company’s trade fair attendance is "Home is not a place, it’s a feeling". Rolf Benz is picking up on the growing yearning for security in a world that is becoming increasingly agile, whilst at the same time responding to the desire for flexible furniture concepts in times of housing shortages and modern, urban nomadism. 

The easily combinable and flexible sofa range Rolf Benz 388, for example, adapts perfectly to any room and living situation and proves to be extremely practical owing to its integrated shelving. The almost sculptural yet surprisingly delicate-looking Rolf Benz 988 dining table, designed by Bodo Sperlein, is a real eye-opener and comes in three different lengths (2.20 m, 2.40 m and 2.60 m) depending on the space available. Last, but not least is the elegant Rolf Benz 655 chair from design duo Hoffmann/Kahlesyss, which also cuts an excellent figure even outside of the trade fair stand and closed living environments. On the bustling streets and squares in Milan, for example.

Living room feeling to go

Milan offers numerous beautiful locations that invite you to spend some time doing sweet nothing – "dolce far niente". Based on the Rolf Benz fair motto "Home is not a place, it’s a feeling", we have taken the Rolf Benz 655 design chair and matching accessories to do up some of the best locations in Milan and to experience them from a peaceful "living room perspective". A slightly different comfort zone.

Our city tour starts at the Porta Ticinese city gate on the Piazza XXIV Maggio. The neo-classical city gate made of pink granite is among the most important works by the architect Luigi Cagnola and, incidentally, makes a wonderful backdrop to our compact-sized mobile living room.

We continue to the historical canal district of Navigli with its abundant cafés, bars and restaurants. This district reminds us a little of Venice and is a popular meeting place for party-goers. We set up our little living room here too and enjoy the charming hustle and bustle.

Of course, the Piazza del Duomo with its imposing cathedral and the triumphal arch of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade are also on our list. The central square is the heart of Milan. It’s not surprising that our living room installation triggers an especially warm response at this prominent location.

The next stop on our tour is the new "CityLife" district on the former trade fair site. Without a doubt, the most striking building on the square is the Generali Tower that stretches 170 metres high into Milan’s skies, designed by star architect Zaha Hadid who died in 2016. A truly majestic sight which, when considered from the comfortable perspective of Rolf Benz 655, appears even more imposing.

A visit to the historic Brera district in the centre of Milan's old town, which is captivating with its small shops and pretty bars, ends our short "living room city tour". In conclusion: this Milan furniture spring is wonderfully inspiring!

aptm

Number 18 Lindower Straße in the Wedding district of Berlin is now one of the hottest addresses when it comes to interior design. This is where, in mid-2017, on the third floor of an old brick building, Chris Glass set up aptm (a place to meet). aptm is a loft space that is at the same time homely and flamboyant in design, and functions as a showroom, a venue and a living gallery for design, art, accessories, curiosities and the culinary arts – a unique and secluded hideaway for exhibitions, business events, dinner parties, wine/food tastings, photo shoots and all kinds of other occasions.

The periodically changing themed designs turn the loft space into a kind of creative and lifestyle laboratory. With a hand-picked selection of exhibits, its creator Chris Glass again and again succeeds in devising innovative spaces for living, experience, pleasure and meeting. During the course of the current design based on the topic “German: what does that mean?“, Chris - ever the style-conscious globetrotter - became aware of Rolf Benz, the company which has for decades been at the vanguard of German design history. So there are now selected items of Rolf Benz furniture in Glass‘ apartment which contribute to the general feel-good atmosphere.

We spoke to the creator of aptm, Chris Glass, about his pet project:

 

What´s your personal history and why are you now based in Berlin?

I grew up in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, studied Musical Theatre at The Boston Conservatory, and lived in NYC before moving to Munich in 2001.  Those Southern roots always poke out in my love for entertaining, good food, great people and lots of music. I’ve had several different jobs - I ran a restaurant in Manhattan, I worked in a shoe store, I sold erotic accessories, I peddled cosmetics, I sang on stages, I built creative communities and networks, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. The connective tissue has always been relationships – building relationships with customers is essential.   I moved to Berlin in 2009.  I came to Berlin because I was ready for a change from Munich.  My friend Tatjana insisted the city held the promise of possibility and newness and at the time, that was exactly what I was after. Almost immediately, I began working for Soho House to open their first member club in Europe.

What do you like about Berlin?

I often joke that the airport (Tegel) is my favorite part of Berlin – because it gets me out of the jungle and it always welcomes me back home.  Beyond that, Berlin creates possibilities – both because the city is financially unaggressive and because there’s a celebration of curiosity. For creative people and those that love creativity, this is really a winning combination.

You are a trained musical actor. Why did you decide to become an “interior decorator”?

I’ve always loved interiors and design.  As a kid, I would rearrange my room at least once a month.  Today, I can spend hours flipping through interior magazines and I put myself to sleep at night not by counting sheep, but by designing a room. So in a way, I’ve turned a hobby into a job. Last year, my flat was featured in an interiors magazine (Ideat) and people began reaching out to me asking if I could decorate their places.  That gave me the confidence to understand that there was something interesting about my take on things. My style is very influenced by my travels and my love for classic design and the stories our homes tell about us. Musical theatre is very much about storytelling, so in some ways it’s been a full circle experience.

How and when did your idea of creating the aptm arise?

I have the fortune of experiencing so many people and places and things in my travels.  My suitcase was never big enough.  I wanted to create a space - 4 walls where I could always return and share the things that I’d seen on the way.  So aptm is a space where people meet, where things meet, where ideas meet, where brands meet, and every combination of those.  And because food and design and fellowship are the things I love most, we use these as our medium.

What was/is your intention with the aptm?

aptm is a very personal expression for me – it gives me room to explore and experiment and at the same time share things that I find interesting and relevant. My hope is that aptm inspires people to live a bigger version of their everyday lives. Whatever you do, enjoy the process of doing it.

Why did you chose german design as a topic for aptm?

It is quite literally what I am surrounded by everyday.  I’ve lived in Germany for more than 16 years now and in that time I’ve discovered that there’s so much more to the culture and the people than the clichés – there is rigidity, but there’s playfulness as well.  I wanted to pause for a few moments and see it all with fresh eyes, to dissect it and question it and come to new conclusions. And I wanted to illuminate how this shows up in culture and design. Beside a strong history of function, craft and craftsmanship, there’s an emerging scene of boutique makers and brands trying new things based on those same principals and I wanted to give them a platform.  In a strange way, I think my being a foreigner creates an interesting perspective on what it is that people sometimes take for granted. 

Chris Glass, founder aptm

„aptm is a very personal expression for me – it gives me room to explore and experiment and at the same time share things that I find interesting and relevant. My hope is that aptm inspires people to live a bigger version of their everyday lives. Whatever you do, enjoy the process of doing it.“

What inspired you when choosing the interior and deciding about the design?

There are three sides to the process.  On one side, I have an idea, a thought that I want to share.  In this case it was to show an unexpected side of German design - embracing the clarity of Germany design, but creating texture and softeness within that. Another side is honing in on hero pieces and players I want to include. For instance I was keen to show Rolf Benz in a new context. And because the space needs to be attractive and have a sense of harmony I focus on how to make it all feel like home. Our Partnerships Manager, Tatjana Sprick, connects us with the brands we work with and she is great about taking these ideas (which are sometimes only words and colors) and coming back with great pieces that challenge and confirm my concepts.

What is typical German for you (in everday life, in design..)?

I think there are the clichés of what is typically German – the precision, the punctuality (the bus comes when it’s supposed to come), the reserved nature, and so on. But I’ve also experienced a playfulness and a whimsy and a romanticism that isn’t what most people think of as German.  There are parts of the country where time seems to stand still and at the same time, within offices things are happening which are ahead of their time.  Nature is a subtle, but present player in Germany.  I think brotzeit is genius, summer is not the same without a crisp weissbier, tatü tata is as annoying as it is classic, and I still find myself waiting for the ampelmann to turn green before I cross the street.

Why did you choose the NUVOLA from the Rolf Benz collection what did you personally experience with the brand Rolf Benz when you where in Nagold?

We started by going back to the beginning.  I wanted to acknowledge the heritage of Rolf Benz and at the same time celebrate what is current about the brand. Looking at the Addiform – how we could ‘add’ more to the sofa to extend it’s versatility – was the hook.  In our case, we extended it as far as the room would allow us.  And to challenge tradition, we flipped the placement of the sofa and the coffee tables around by putting the sofas back to back instead of across from each other. Nuvola –with it’s clean lines and simple form - gave us the clarity to tell this story and the versatility (various depths and widths) to make it resonate. Most of my time is spent going from metropolis to metropolis, so Nagold was such a refreshing change. What struck me most was the people.  EVERYONE was friendly.  They smiled, they made eye contact, they were curious and open…  They said mahlzeit.  It was like I’d landed in fairytale.  There were people that have been with the company for years and years and it’s not only their job, it’s a part of their life. It says so much about a company to see this sort of passion and commitment from employees.

And one last question: What is your next project?

I was in Africa last year and aside from it being a dream come true, it inspired a curiosity about African design.  So, we’re in the thick of exploring the far flung corners of the globe and looking at what “Africa” could mean. In the meantime, there’s 1000 other things to do and we’re excited what the future holds.

 

A place to meet - a place to be

You can meet Rolf Benz at Number 18 Lindower Straße until the end of July 2018: say hello to the Nuvola, the side table Rolf Benz 984 and the barstool Rolf Benz 650.

Cinema, Culture and Kosslick – An Interview with "Mr. Berlinale"

The 68th bear hunt – spotlight on the world’s largest public film festival! Once again this year, the Berlinale is bringing an extra dose of glitz and glamour to the capital city. Every February, when the glittering stars are on the red carpet in front of the Berlinale Palace theatre and thousands of film enthusiasts stream into the movie theatres of the metropolis on the Spree, wintry grey Berlin transforms into a cinematic Eldorado of international radiance.

As "Official Supplier" to the Berlinale, Rolf Benz and its interior team have stylishly furnished selected festival locations. The lounge areas in the Potsdamer Platz arcades, for example, or the Berlinale VIP Club, also known as "Dieter Kosslick’s living room", where the long-standing festival director personally greets the competition teams prior to the press conferences.

We talked to the Berlinale boss about his new "living room" and the beneficial effects of high-quality furniture design.

The days during the Berlinale film festival are very stressful. Where do you go to get some rest?

In the Berlinale VIP Club, where we meet the film teams, things are often hectic and nerves are on edge. I’ve got a small, separate office there with a sofa. That’s where I sit and concentrate on the next meeting and the walk to the press conference. However, we attach great importance to a relaxing and friendly atmosphere even in the VIP Club itself. After all, the film teams should feel good with us even during frantic moments. An elegant and high-quality interior can be very useful.

What happens in the Berlinale VIP Club, also known as "Dieter’s living room"?

The VIP Club leads to the photo call, where actors and directors present themselves to international photographers. We then ask our guests to continue to the press conference. The journalists have already seen the relevant film beforehand and every now and then they ask critical questions in some way or another. These are all very exciting and emotional moments for the film teams. This makes it all the more important for them to relax as much as possible in the Berlinale VIP Club, take a breather over a good cup of coffee and enjoy the stylish ambience.

Which characteristics should the "Berlinale living room" fulfil in your point of view?

The "living room" should be inviting on the one hand – based on the theme of welcome to Berlin and the Berlinale. The furniture should be functional and comfortable but also give off an international flair. Our new festival partner Rolf Benz has succeeded in designing this year’s Berlinale VIP Club exactly in this way.

You originally come from Pforzheim in Baden-Württemberg. Do you have a special connection with the ROLF BENZ brand and the "Made in Nagold" furniture?

Rolf Benz was always a well-known name back then – a success story from the Black Forest. For us, furniture from Rolf Benz always stood for high quality, good design, and German craftsmanship. It’s great that this still applies today.

Where do you live and do you have a favourite piece of furniture in your home?

I have a few vintage chairs, design classics from Arne Jacobson and Egon Eiermann. They aren't just functional, they are super comfortable as well. Just like the furniture from Rolf Benz, actually.

Cinematic Art Meets Design Culture

Almost 380 films from all over the world are presented at the Berlinale festival between the 15th and 25th February. Around twenty preselected national and international contributions have the chance of winning the Gold and Silver bears. The coveted trophies are highly regarded and count as hard currency in the international film sector. This year’s "guardian of the currency" is no less than cult director Tom Tykwer, who acts as guarantor of the quality of the competition as Jury President.

With Rolf Benz as "Official Supplier" to the Berlinale, the expectations of high quality in the prestigious film festival are now also reflected in its furniture design. The Rolf Benz TONDO and NUVOLA sofa ranges among others, which have won several design awards, make a film-worthy appearance. It’s just a shame that you can’t take the comfy sofas with you into the cinema.

IMM Cologne 2018
Trend Check in Cologne

January blues? Far from it! As the first furnishings trade fair of this new year, IMM Cologne is back again for 2018, lighting up the many-faceted world of interiors. In the Rhine metropolis, more than 1,200 exhibitors from 50 different countries will be presenting their latest ideas for the home and room designs to create a more beautiful home, inspiring people to redesign their own four walls. Rolf Benz is back again as well, presenting visionary upholstered furniture creations that bring a smile to the faces of visitors trying out the seats, whilst also setting the bar for pioneering furniture design considerably higher.

Recently Selected Design Icons

Two leading-edge products are causing a stir in 2018: the Rolf Benz 562 club armchair and the Rolf Benz RONDO modular sofa. Both models were awarded the prestigious "Iconic Awards: Innovative Interior 2018" in the run up to "IMM Cologne" and the simultaneous "Interior Design Week" fairs. The award is regarded in the furniture industry as a barometer of trends in contemporary interior design.

 The elegant Rolf Benz RONDO lounge sofa with its narrow and high, rounded back was the "Winner" of the competition. The stylishly minimalistic, organic-looking and unpretentious Rolf Benz 562 club armchair achieved the highest award, "Best of Best".

 Both creations were from Swiss designer This Weber, resulting from his engagement with the existing Rolf Benz collection. "We wanted to design upholstered furniture that was as delicate and space-saving as possible, yet still comfortable and elegant," explains This Weber. "Since both pieces of furniture have stylistic similarities, they can be freely combined: the RONDO sofa’s design determines the basic melody, while the club armchairs set the tone."

This Weber was born with a flair for appealing design: "I come from a family of craftsmen and designers. My grandfather was a joiner and made furniture as unique pieces. My father worked as a graphic designer and typographer and designed fonts and logos," recalls Weber. Referring to the recently-won awards, the successful designer is refreshingly pragmatic: "Such awards are always nice and they create a certain amount of attention, but it's much more important that customers actually like the products and that they are successful on the market," says Weber.

This Weber, Designer

„I come from a family of craftsmen and designers. My grandfather was a joiner and made furniture as unique pieces. My father worked as a graphic designer and typographer and designed fonts and logos“

Out and About with the Winners

The fact that the harmoniously shaped Rolf Benz 562 club armchair feels perfectly at home in different (residential) landscapes is one of its greatest strengths. This is also confirmed by the images that were taken shortly before IMM Cologne, presenting the graceful chairs and their designer at distinctive locations throughout Cologne. Whether in front of the cathedral, in the Museum Ludwig, on the Hohenzollern Bridge, on the Rheinpromenade, in front of the Kranhäuser [crane houses] or down in the "Chlodwigplatz" underground station, the two protagonists are – quite literally – outstanding. "I want to create desirable objects. That’s my aim, day after day," explains This Weber. Mission accomplished!