Q&A: Stefan Diez

We recently had the chance to catch up with Stefan Diez and find out more about what makes him tick. As a designer and as a human being. Diez is the author of Plusminus, the latest lighting system presented by Vibia which provides revolutionary creative freedom to lighting and interior designers.

His journey to becoming an industrial designer came about by chance, before being seduced by design Stefan started his career as an apprentice cabinet maker, his family’s business is carpentry which one day he had planned to take over. Nevertheless the tenacity and skills he learned served him well. These qualities are on display with Plusminus; its meticulous design, versatility and ingeniousness are common features in the German designer’s body of work.

When did you figure out that you wanted to be a designer?

I grew up in a family of carpenters and trained as one myself, during my apprenticeship as cabinet maker I was once sent by my teacher to pick up some samples at the Stuttgart State Academy of Fine Arts. Once there, by chance, I came across a class being given by Richard Sapper and was completely fascinated by this place. So I approached the students and asked them what they were studying and what exactly was industrial design. From that moment onwards it was really clear to me that I wanted to change plans and start studying industrial design as well. The day after I told my parents about my decision they immediately decided to come to Stuttgart. It was clear to them that I was not going to take over the family business and I had to face up to some serious questions, but I had already fallen completely in love, and it was obvious to everyone there was no going back.

Where does your greatest inspiration come from when creating?

From my memories, from the things I already have stored in my brain. Inspiration is an action of the brain, it’s not something that you can plan or control. You can only draw on them if you already have collected memories, hopefully, and in unexpected ways, they will inspire you at some point.

What is the part of the creative process that you enjoy most?

Every creative process has its phases, there’s the moment of great excitement and the moment of great disillusion, when you think your ideas are not going anywhere. The moment I enjoy the most is when suddenly out of disillusion something that was looking complicated or even impossible, turns out to be easy.

How would you describe your approach with lighting?

Light by itself is such a magical element that my approach is just to try to experiment with and serve its magical character in the best way possible.

If you could choose what would be your one material of choice for creating?

Probably sheet metal, you can process it and play with it in so many different ways. That makes it very versatile but at the same time it’s very simple, somehow always very logical.

What travel destinations would you recommend to a fellow professional or a student of either design or architecture?

India! It’s probably one of the only countries where things are still working in a completely different way from Western logic. And it has so many contradictions that lead you to a state of mind where you become very alert to what’s happening around you, you are more open.

If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?

I don’t know, what superpower are we missing?

Can you share something you’ve learned about work or a life lesson over the years?

Slicing up the elephant. Don’t try to eat an elephant all at once or you will never make it, but if you slice it into digestible portions, you might even enjoy it.

Something that’s never missing from your fridge?