“The customer is his own architect”


Behind every design there is a creative mind whose ideas and designs form the basic building block of every product. One of these people is Bastian Prieler – the designer of our VARIA shelving system. Together with Christian Diemer, he founded the studio prieler design in Detmold in 2021 and specializes in industrial design. The 33-year-old, who was born in Lower Bavaria, has also been designing for Metallbude for about a year.



Bastian, what design philosophy do you follow when designing your products?


“My approach is that the furniture designed gives the customer the opportunity to be their own architect and to realize themselves. The prerequisite for this is that a product is not assigned to a singular purpose or to a specific space, but rather remains versatile and can be used in different contexts. Flexibility is playing an increasingly important role in our lives. We move often and change jobs more quickly. Furniture that is variable and can be changed in a variety of ways, adapts to new spatial situations, and can be subsequently redesigned is designed to be sustainable. This keeps them alive longer and grows with time and life situations. Many designers leave out the emotional aspect. I, on the other hand, believe that the emotional use of a piece of furniture is also a function: If I design furniture to be timeless but sterile, then I won't find anyone who loves it. A piece of furniture must always create the possibility that you either love it or hate it. It has to have character so that it isn't too normal or interchangeable. However, that doesn't mean it should be redesigned. Rather, it has to have a joke, a story, a materiality. A shelf, for example, should be visible as such, but still be designed to provide a stage for the things I want to display.”

Speaking of which: What makes the VARIA shelving system so special in this context?

“Primarily, it serves exactly the purpose that every other cupboard does: storage. What makes it special is what the customer does with it, because he can configure the furniture the way he wants. And the product remains flexible and variable in that it can be changed, reassembled or expanded at any time through additional purchases. There is, in my opinion, a certain maximum level of innovation that a designer can deliver. The word innovation is generally difficult because a design is ultimately not innovative. I would therefore rather use the word evolution or evolutionary: There has always been a chair, a shelf, a cupboard - all of this has just been further developed. We do not completely reinvent a product. A piece of furniture, for example, should be 90 percent self-explanatory at first glance and only ten percent new. Not more. Otherwise it will either not be understood or modified too much into something artistic. So you miss the chance to generate something sellable.”

VARIA is configurable: How would you design your personal shelving system?

“I'm someone who has a lot of stuff that you can read. Lots of books and design magazines, architecture and art publications, because I like to leaf through them in the evenings and get inspired. I would therefore choose a volume of drawers and make it as high as possible so that all the books can find a place in it. Kept very straight.”