We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Schluetter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
One thing that most people are unaware of is that the Kitchen Design Industry is highly driven by a European Background. Traditionally this has a lot to do that the modular Kitchen Planning philosophy originated from the “Frankfurt Kitchen”, developed in 1926 by Austrian Architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky in a Social Housing project in Frankfurt, Germany. This forward-thinking new Concept was quickly adopted by german cabinetry manufacturers and perfected in the sixties and seventies into a modular design system, that we use all the way up to this day. This simple concept has evolved into an international Design Style that is based on Metric Spacing, and the Ratio of the Human Body. So a lot of our contemporary Design nowadays took shape in these early days. We still embrace these deep Roots and often look back to these simplistic and efficient concepts, that follow the concept of Design follows Function, and surprises us to this day on how the most efficient designs turn out to be minimalistic and elegant to the eye as well.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It was a long journey to where I am today. When I first started my career at my Fathers Kitchen Studio in Germany in 1999, I went through 3 years of apprenticeship, combining Business School and learning all of the Trades, working in Cabinet installations, learning every detail about cabinet construction, Materials, Hardware first hand. This helped me enormously when it later came to the Design Part. Understanding how Screw and Dowell connections could be seamlessly integrated, providing stability by using specialty materials enabled me, later on, to not only work in three dimensions but then later apply these things virtually via CAD Design. So just like a sculptor is able to generate complex Shape out of a Piece of Marble, I learned the art of sculpting a cabinet on Paper and on the computer. My father proofed to be one of the toughest teachers I could half, This level of Dedication and compassion can only be met in a true family business I think. You do not think about work hours, you think to be successful together and only be satisfied with professional results. Also, my Father taught me every little corner of what it takes to run a business – not only Design and install, but also to work with clients, being a guide for them, and creating an artistic space. These things can simply not be learned in school alone. Later on, these valuable lessons enabled me to venture out into the world, and my Father furthermore encouraged me to explore other Cultures, Companies, and also – open my horizon to other industries. So after 2007, I worked in other Cities and Countries – United States, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Canada. When I first started my apprenticeship I would have never thought that it would take me around the world. And by meeting all new and different people, I have learned to collaborate with other Industries, Partner up with Architects, Builders, and Clients internationally. I created Schwarzmann as a reflection of this Journey – to start with nothing but your own hands and brain. My dedication to quality and heritage has not stopped growing ever since. And as much as I embrace my east german roots, I also love the opportunities in the united states to create new ideas, and also Products. For my bookshelf Design “Loculamentum” that I have created here in Florida, I have won the German Design Award in 2018 and the European Product Design Award in 2019. This was a life-changing experience as well, that highly motivated me to move forward in unchartered Territory of other Elements of the House, not just Kitchens and Bathrooms anymore. We share this experience with our Team and chose to work with the same enthusiastic individuals that think alike. We fully embrace our Motto “Life is the most beautiful design”.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would certainly take my Friend around Florida. First stop would be Key west, one of my personal favorite spots ( i got engaged to my wife down there in 2008), and love the restaurants and good vibe there. Then of course a visit to the Miami Design Locations, to see all the fantastic Art Deco Buildings and Architecture, and afterward stop by at Toscano Divino, one of my favorite restaurants in Miami. A little trip to see Naples and Tampa would also be on my list, always great if you love good food and a nice Cigar in a While, right?! Since I am a huge Fan of Nasa and human kinds endeavor to the Stars, I would also spend a full day at the Kennedy Space Center and if possible catch a Rocket Launch!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My Shoutout in an Architectural and Design sense goes to all students and teachers of the Bauhaus University, as they have shaped modern design as we know it today. Just to name a few – Walter Gropius with his preindustrial vision of Architecture, Marcel Breuer and his interior and furniture Design, and Mies van der Rohe for his international open Building methods. They all became teachers for generations to come, and deserve my utmost admiration. And on a personal Side – all my clients who chose to work with me, and allowed me to create their center of the House and Lives, that has shaped their environment and Families. Getting their feedback after years and seeing them come back is the greatest encouragement for me as a designer and innovator.
Michael Schluetter, Stephan Goettschlicher