Expanding imagination spaces Jörg Dietz and his team turn trends into innovative designs
Trends need people who can identify them, interpret them correctly and translate them into products and solutions which are already anticipated by society. Jörg Dietz – Head of Design of SURTECO – and his design team can play all of these roles: observer, interpreter, designer. And Jörg Dietz is the man at the decisive interfaces. Looking outward, he recognises the trends and has to have a grasp of which ones will actually become important. Looking inward, he knows his team as well as the various areas, products, materials and trades. And all parameters have to interlock properly before a trend can become a design. A conversation.
Mr Dietz, let’s go back to square one. You have been Head of Design at SURTECO since the end of last year. Which challenges come with this position at the largest decor and surface specialist?
We conceive and develop new designs for nearly all surfaces in interior design. That means that we have to be prepared to cater for a wide range of customer groups with their very own trend ideas, needs and technical requirements. This diversity is complicated, but at the same time the most important driver of our work.
You are on familiar footing in the sectors concerned. With your design agency Dietz Produktgestaltung, you have been providing important designs for the kitchen and furniture industries for 15 years. Your wife is now running the agency on her own, while you are focusing purely on your new responsibilities. To what extent does SURTECO benefit from your wealth of experience?
What’s interesting for the company is that I look at things from the perspective of the customer, the developer and the designer from the furniture industry. I know the parameters for deciding whether a design is appropriate for a defined task or not. At SURTECO, new ideas come from the relationship between the products and the substrates underneath them, and this is where I can provide important impetus.
One of your first ideas for SURTECO – the unicolour ‘Compact Style’ front and edge, which simulates a coloured laminate with a natural-looking inlaid panel – has already been honoured with the German Design Award as well as other distinctions. Which factors played a key role in the development of the product?
When it comes to prefabricated furniture parts, the edge is often an element that is meant to integrate itself into the colour and surface design. With Compact Style, we took it in a different direction: we made the edge the hero, providing the decisive design aspect to the prefabricated furniture part.
How do you go about discovering new trends?
That is an extremely complex part of our work. We start by making sure that we are very well informed. To do so, we consult various media as well as visit trade fairs, congresses and events. But above all we carefully observe societal trends and new design topics, and then take these impressions, impulses and ideas and combine them. Then we evaluate these based on their relevance to the market.
Not everything is a genuine trend. When do you know if you are right?
Actually, the trends that win out can often be recognised relatively early on. There is a fairly quick response to these trends which is often spontaneous and emotional.
Let’s use the Synnect trend as an example: how do you ultimately take a trend like that and turn it into a new decor?
When we describe a trend, this also results in assumptions about what effect this trend may have under certain circumstances or how, for example, it will manifest itself in fashion or interior design. This results, in a way, in a picture of this trend, which is then answered through new ideas and concrete drafts. Within the ‘Synnect’ trend, this picture shows, among other things, raw steel surfaces – which served as the stimulus for the ‘Rocket’ decor.
What does the living of the future look like?
It’s certainly going to change. Urban living is trendy at the moment. Accordingly, the living situation in cities is changing, because certain neighbourhoods are compressing in order to make more intensive use of space and to add more levels of living space. New types of living together are arising from sharing concepts and new multigenerational models. And the demand for sustainability – and the associated environmentally friendly handling of resources – is changing the living of the future. Furniture will perhaps once again be of greater quality, because people want to use it over a longer period of time.
The Design Factory was opened in 2017 – what exactly happens there and what are the services that can be found behind that name?
The Design Factory visualises the diversity of possibilities within the company. It’s a workshop for our customers, where they can design and define their product down to the finest detail – all with the help of cutting-edge patterning tools. When the customer leaves, they can take with them a range of fleshed-out ideas as decision-making aids.
A little glimpse of who you are personally: what object do you always have to have on your desk?
My favourite pen.
Where do you find your inspiration outside of your working space?
Inspiration – regardless whether within the office or outside of it – can be found in different situations. When out walking in nature, visiting cities, travelling or sometimes even in the most everyday occasions. Inspiration is a continuous process that takes place through the use of all of your senses. It sometimes even happens that, during conversations with colleagues or friends, a completely new subject is brought up that has nothing to do with the current conversation, and that then has spontaneous results.
What has moved you the most personally with regard to the recent design world?
Right now at the Salone del Mobile.Milano: a return to the classics. I feel like we’re searching for guidance, because we have such great variety. One keyword in this regard is certainly the centennial of the Bauhaus movement. But I also saw other classic designs in modern reinterpretations.
What do you hope to accomplish together with SURTECO?
By connecting the substrates with each other, entirely new and exciting ideas are created that enable new solutions within development partnerships with our customers. This goes for all customer areas. This leads to, in addition to the design task for the individual product, the consideration of the finished product and giving thought to what this product can do even better.
Jörg Dietz, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me!
Jörg Dietz, vielen lieben Dank für das Gespräch!
Learn more about the transfer of current trends into innovative designs in our Design Stories.