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Studio Visit:

with designer
Mirko Borsche

In 2007 typographer and designer Mirko Borsche founded the global design studio Bureau Borsche, bringing a refreshing “international Bavarian” vibe to the scene. Since its launch, the Bureau has collaborated with a variety of international brands and acclaimed many accolades, including winning several international design awards, taking part in exhibitions, and presenting its initiative at the 2019 Venice Biennale.

In a personal conversation with KASSL Editions, Borsche discusses the limitations and ramifications of a creative space, why he values Munich for its untraditional underground scene and what it means to collaborate creatively.

Interview

What conditions promote innovation in a creative space for you?

Until two years ago, the most efficient way of working in a small studio was sitting at a big table with our laptops so everyone could see each other; we could communicate easily as part of an open workflow and open mindset to propose new ideas. If you use this kind of workflow, you almost don't need to do any brainstorming and teambuilding exercises because everything is constantly flowing. Corona and everything that happened afterwards changed that. For some people, some jobs home office is a brilliant opportunity. For a creative business with eleven employees and big projects to complete, it's almost impossible to work remotely because you lose so much time. We work between nine and six, never later, but we had to adjust our working times once we went remote. Someone had to finish their groceries, was in a different zoom meeting, and had problems with their wifi. Day by day, the work was further delayed, and we had to work later, which I didn't care for. If you are passionate about your job, it's essential to save your energy, and the last two years didn't provide that space. 

Which elements do you surround yourself with to create an ideal breeding ground for your creative flow in your workspace?

Our big table is the most important piece in my workspace; it's around ten meters long, two and a half meters wide. Twelve chairs surround it, so there is always a spare one.
It's also important to switch it up; there's always a new space to work in, like our standing tables and the sofa where you can have a chat or work on some emails. The terrace is also vital to be able to go outside once in a while, like every hour, to get some fresh air.

How would you describe Bureau Borsche in three words?

Bureau Borsche has an international Bavarian vibe. Historically seen, Bavaria was visited by many nations – the Romans, Vikings and some of them stayed here, so it has always been quite international. Bavarians mostly have curly black hair, a large moustache, and dark skin, which is not very typically German. Everybody expects the office to be in Berlin – the most creative city in Germany where everyone wants to go. That's the big difference from Munich; it's settled, small and quiet.

Which items in the studio are essential in your workspace and routine?

Our facility is not very big, but it's cool that it's located at the central station. It's the best feature of it, every time I am a bit bored and want to do something I open up the big windowfront towards the main street, which creates a sort of cinema, it opens up a whole new world to watch. I can people watch, and because it's a storefront window, nobody looks inside, and if they do and see you, they immediately look away. So I can be a spectator and see the weather change. When the sun is out, it shines into the office all day, which is so beautiful. The surrounding area has Senegalese, Portuguese, Turkish, Greek, Syrians and almost no Germans which is fantastic (laughs).

‘‘A creative space should ideally feel cosy. It is well organized and clean, and there’s nothing that visually annoys me.’’

Did principles like feng shui influence your choice of the interior of Bureau Borsche?

When we moved, we did not have any money for furniture. The old space was very small compared and the move and renovating the new space was quite expensive so there was no money left. We started asking a friend of ours, Gonzales Haase, who owns a Berlin-based architectural office, and we worked on the Balenciaga store in Paris together, among other venues. We asked how we could collaborate on our office and Stefan Diez, an industrial designer in Munich who works for companies like Wagner. He asked us to redesign for Wagner, but the problem was that their bestselling item was a chair designed by Stefan, so they could not create a whole office set up to promote the chair. This was the perfect opportunity for us. We started a project and used our new studio to create the idea of a new office created from scratch with new materials. There's no feng shui behind our interior design choices but the idea of efficiency. Gonzales Haase's approach is very art-oriented, and Stefan Diez took their material and created an efficient workspace. Everybody profited from this project; we have a new office; Wagner has some new furniture, and; Stefan and Gonzales have new jobs. It all came together.

What should a creative space feel like ideally?

A creative space should ideally feel cosy. It is well organized and clean, and there's nothing that visually annoys me. It could be a light switch, the wrong router on the ceiling, or small things that freak me out. It's not an issue when I'm somewhere else, but I can't be distracted as long as I work on visual ideas, so the space needs to be a blank canvas. Sometimes I close the big windows and go to the other room, which feels like it's nowhere. It's so quiet and clean, and the only thing you hear is the birds even though we are located in such a busy place in the city.

How much does the environment in which art is created influence the work itself?

Mike Meret, who is a great designer and a sort of mentor to me; I used to work with him for a long time, gave me some excellent advice, which is true to me. I was looking for a studio and had very little money. I wanted to open up an office to freelance. He said, "most important is that you look for a lovely flat, and even if it's too expensive, you will be able to afford it in a few months". He said that you have a place to rest because he saw the value of feeling at home in your house. It's essential to have a place you like and where nothing bothers you. He was correct, and at that time, I was looking for a home and decided to move into my office to combine both budgets. It was a beautiful place with a lovely terrace; it was a maisonette apartment with a gallery. It had enormous windows and stayed there for ten years and had a wonderful time, so he was right. It makes all the difference to feel safe and happy at home and where you work. To me, it makes sense to invest in your home and food; these are the two most important things. You're going to spend 80% of your life at work until you're 65, so if you are not happy in the space, it will make your life much more unhappy. There's no work you'll always enjoy, so it's vital to eat good, exercise and sleep in a beautiful bedroom.
The city you live in doesn't make your life; I used to live in London for a long time, and I love that city, but it was never because I could be more creative there; it was the people and the flow and its city, but it was at that time filthy, so I would rather now live on the countryside. So it's just about finding your own spot in the world.

We recently had these two designers come over to the office, one from Switzerland and one from Hannover, who complained that there is no underground scene in Munich because it's so tiny. There is, but you are the wrong person if you have to look for it. It's not as evident as in other cities; Munich does not live from the underground scene. The people who are underground want to stay that way.

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