Design has always been in Barbara Benz’s genes. Her Nagold and Stuttgart stores combine great interior design and high-end furniture with world-class customer service. Below, Barbara Benz, managing partner of architare barbara benz GmbH & Co. KG, told us about her career and her view on design and Walter Knoll.
How did you first get into interior design and high end furniture?
Born in a “furniture family,” I inherited design in my DNA. After having worked in Milan and New York, in customer and trend research, and in advertising, I changed trajectory and launched architare in 2007. Since then, the company established itself not only as a solid business but also as a go-to brand. In 2012, the architare family was expanded with the opening of “design möbel SALE! by architare” next to the original store in Nagold. With the acquisition of Stuttgart’s former “Fleiner” in 2014, architare cemented its name as a synonym for great interior design, high-end furniture and great customer service. This year we celebrated our tenth anniversary and instead of shining a light on the company, we focused on our customers, employees, business growth and design.
What do Fleiner or architare offer to their clientele? What is their leitmotif?
architare as well as Fleiner Möbel by architare offer regional and international high-end furniture in the premium interior design segment. With brands like Walter Knoll, B&B Italia or Vitra, just to name a few, we provide our customers with exclusive pieces. But it’s not about exclusive furniture; architare also prizes outstanding customer care. By virtue of professionality, reliability and also creativity, architare treats every customer as if he/she were unique, special. With a team consisting of qualified consultants, architects and interior designers, out clientele always receives premium treatment. Support for architare does not mean helping to choose the right furniture, but it’s more of a holistic process - comprehensive support in planning, styling and beyond. And we accomplish it by telling stories through iconic products and brands’ know-how. architare likes to foster the motto “empathy in creating interiors”.
How would you define Walter Knoll and its products/pieces?
Walter Knoll furniture translates into quality of life. With the use of the finest and most exclusive materials, leather and fabrics, the company creates classic pieces and avant-garde icons. The family-like vibe within the company reflects on their employees, dealers and external partners. As masters and experts in leather handling, upholstery and overall furniture craftsmanship, Walter Knoll represents quality and design at its best.
How do you select Walter Knoll products for your showrooms out of their wide selection?
We select Walter Knoll products that are in line with our target customers. In addition, we focus on the newest trends which, every year, we feature on our architare magazine in design and furniture. Besides that, our two furniture stores complement each other. The one in Nagold is quite extraordinary and trendy; on the other hand, the one in Stuttgart presents itself as more classic yet contemporary. By combining those two different styles, our customers can get exclusive furniture that perfectly matches their needs and lifestyles.
Do you have a favorite project in which Walter Knoll products were involved?
One of our most spectacular projects with Walter Knoll was the Player Lounge of the soccer club Schalke 04. architare set up the Player Lounge with an extensive range of Walter Knoll products including almost 80 Jason Lite chairs, barstools, Living Landscape 730 sofas, Together benches, and Stay poufs. Another job we’re very fond of is the Porsche Design Center in Weissach.
Where do you see Walter Knoll in Baden-Württemberg and Germany in the near and distant future?
The history of the brand Knoll began in 1865 with a small leather business in Stuttgart: a centennial tradition that translates into more than 150 years of experience. As we see it today, we believe that Walter Knoll has room for growth both in the near and far future. As purveyors of “Made in Germany” furniture, Walter Knoll has raised the bar in terms of precision, creativity and quality, and this will continue for many years to come. And, they firmly adhere to sustainable manufacturing, resource handling and practices. After all their philosophy is to create “enduring design quality.”
Name 3 of your favorite Walter Knoll pieces? Why are they your favorite ones?
375: we needed a special non-extant product for a client. That’s when Markus Benz and I sifted through Walter Knoll’s drawing archive and selected this design, which was then refined by EOOS and added to the brand’s collection. Tama Living: it creates a wonderful landscape and is elegant, beautiful and comfortable. It fits every room. FK: just one sentence: “The Devil Wears Prada”. I love Meryl Streep sitting on this chair. I myself sit on it every day.