Michael Sieger (1968) and his family live near Enschede, about 70 km from the border between the Netherlands and Germany. Nine years ago, he chanced upon a newspaper add offering a 300-m2 house in the Munster city centre. The white stucco building was originally built in the Gründerzeit, around the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century. It was a time in which industrialists got rich fast. They had a preference for spacious houses with impressive, historicizing façades. Sieger: ‘The property needed quite a lot of work. The previous user had been a rather unruly student debating society. The students were so noisy that the neighbours were overjoyed to see them go. They had a fencing hall in the attic. That’s our bedroom now. You can still see the cuts and notches the swords made in the beams of the ceiling.’
While his own designs border on the elementary, the colours and riches of Memphis still feel like home to Michael Sieger.
Sieger Design has been among the largest design offices in Germany for two generations. Michael and his brother Christian have been the creative and enterprising motors that propel Sieger Design since 2003. He learnt the business from his father Dieter, who established the family business’s headquarters in Schloß Harkotten, an eighteenth-century Baroque castle in Munsterland in 1988. Dieter Sieger (1938) started out as a contractor. His passion for drawing, art, gardens and architecture led to further studies in the evenings. From the opening of his architecture office in the mid-1960s until the transfer of the by then multidisciplinary company to his sons in 2003, Dieter Sieger managed, by creativity and an energetic enterprising spirit, to develop into one of Germany’s most renowned designers. The company designed houses, factories and apartment buildings in Germany, France, Spain, Greece and America and often developed those projects itself.
Designing bathrooms brought Sieger into contact with sanitary fitting producers Duravit, Hoesch and Dornbracht. Many new products followed, including Tara, a tap with a cross-shaped handle that is one of Dieter Sieger’s most recognizable designs. Michael applied his emphasis on elegant clarity in design to the Mem taps he made for Dornbracht, a series that became almost as well-known as Tara. It is obvious where Michael Sieger got his passion for collecting. In the 1980s, father Dieter met Alessandro Mendini, Fabrizio Plessi, Mimmo Paladino, Arnoldo Pomodoro and Ettore Sottsass through a gallery owner in Venice. In the garden surrounding Schloß Harkotten, he collected sculptures, installations and follies by Marte Röling, Andrea Branzi, Miguel Berrocal, Alessandro Mendini and Ettore Sottsass. Experts say Sieger’s Sottsass collection is one of the largest in the world.
Sieger renovated his Münster house ‘with respect for the original details’, as they say. ‘The renovation was substantial, but fortunately the architectural basis was very solid,’ says Sieger. The original finishes of doors and floors were representative and geometrical. By painting the panelling, the doors and the bannisters black, the hallway became a dramatic setting for the monumental mirrors and objects by Ettore Sottsass. In the living room, Sieger fitted a number of narrow wall units that strengthen the wall layout and form a base for vases and for the Tintin figurines he collects. Of course he paid a lot of attention to the design of the bathroom adjoining the master bedroom. Sieger chose to use elongated wooden wall units beneath the sanitary fittings. He added contemporary Rem taps of his own design.