Creative Conversations: Paul Steinmann + Nicole Jacek
Creative Conversations are drawn from the very handsome YGX Annual, available for purchase for a limited time.
Nicole Jacek: So, Steini, we’ve known each other for quite some time, haven’t we? Congrats and welcome to this year’s YG class! To give everyone a quick intro—Paul is a German art director and designer based in Cologne, and someone I truly admire (sometimes). Paul, you picked me for your interview—it’s the hair, isn’t it?
Paul Steinmann: Yes, it is. I wished I had your awesome hair. I’m gonna have it implanted on my chest. I’ve chosen you for this conversation, because I like what you do and the way you do it: energetic, ambitious, challenging, always bright, and – everybody knows you’re always straightforward. You are more than fun and inspiring to work with (sometimes). It’s also fun watching you having a banana pudding, too.
Nicole: Let’s stop shitting rainbows—just kidding. I am really glad to have the chance to talk to you. Anyway, I haven’t had a banana pudding ever since you left! I’ve put myself on a diet few years ago (yeah right). Let’s dive into your thesis project, since it’s been published in couple magazines, and I have been always wondering what I am looking at. What am I looking at? What did you pay the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design to let you graduate with that? WHY?
Paul: My studies in Karlsruhe were affected by a strong interdisciplinary approach. We were encouraged to dive into all five departments of the school: graphic design, product design, temporary architecture (which includes stage and exhibition design), media art (which was divided into art, photography and film), art theory and philosophy. I spent a lot of time in product design workshops, building flying communication robots, hung out in music studios recording and arranging songs and sounds for exhibitions, and helped out on film sets as a hand double for an actor who couldn’t play the piano.
It was inevitable to pour all those experiences together in the school’s own TV-studio—a huge black room full of invisible high-tech. You’re looking at a whole universe I call the “Absurd Dialogs”. These are some of the 17 interactive objects and installations I developed for the exhibition that was part of the show. All of them play with the fact that communication follows its own unpredictable laws.
Nicole: Let me see your space. Where are you right now? That’s not your apartment in Cologne! I’m confused.
Paul: No, it’s a stock room at the rear part of my parent’s house, which was a former factory where meat grinders were cast. My mom is an interior architect and my dad is a painter and sculptor. This is where they store weird stuff and inspirations. From nothing nothing comes… eh?
Nicole: That’s a very weird lamp—did you design that?
Paul: I bought an industrial inspection lamp and put it on the ceiling. The hook you would usually use to fix the lamp under your car’s hood holds a maritime buoy. I can’t tell you why. I just like to see things from another perspective.
Nicole: Oh, that’s a project I am recognizing here—that’s the Red Bull Music Academy campaign—I liked it a lot! How did you land that job? Pretty awesome, man!
Paul: We created strangely modified pairs of objects resembling known “before-after demonstrations”. Based on these artworks, we created diverse printed collateral which were distributed in bars, clubs, record shops and at Red Bull Music Academy Sessions in more than 80 cities worldwide.
Nicole: An old ADC invitation???
Paul: Haha, yes. When I was interning at karlssonwilker, Jan gave me his invite to the ADC Annual Awards Gala and told me to go there and abduct a palm tree. Unfortunately there were no palm trees. So I had—probably one or two (def. too much)—gin martinis and entertained everyone with my German-English prattle.
Nicole: I really wanted to thank you for your time and for thinking of me. Congrats again, and let’s get trashed at the YG party in November, shall we? Have a wonderful time in Moscow. You are flying out tomorrow? Tell the Russians I said hi. Interesting stuff happening there design wise by the way.
Nicole: Bye, bye from Germany. You are so awesome, NJ.