Meet Stephan Siepermann, an Utrecht based designer creating wooden furniture and interior products. Stephan always tries to use and combine different materials and techniques to achieve new forms and new functionalities. In doing so, he often adds an extra layer of usability, humor and social engagement in his creations. All products are handcrafted in his own workshop and therefore unique pieces of labor. Anna dropped by his atelier located in an old warf at the ‘Oudegracht’.
How did you find your way into woodworking and design?
Stephan: It all started when I started making wooden tools for a friend’s kids. I would give them a wooden tool every year. From there, I developed my skills and interests further.
I had a passion for woodworking and music from an early stage. Although I initially wanted to pursue music, I also had a strong desire to work with my hands. Eventually, I attended a school in Belgium that focused on building guitars. While the program didn’t involve much music, it provided me with advanced woodworking and manufacturing skills.
Seeking a more creative outlet, I went on to study at the Design Academy in Eindhoven. There, I was able to combine my foundational skills of working with my hands with conceptualization. I learned to work with different materials like glass, metal, and clay, expanding my design possibilities. During my time in school, I already had built up a few clients, which further fueled my desire to establish my own business.
What inspires you in your work?
Stephan: I draw inspiration from both the materials I work with and the manufacturing process itself. Nature is another significant source of inspiration for me. I strive to combine technical aspects with warm materials in my creations. I also enjoy repurposing curated scraps into something new.
Can you describe your creative process?
Stephan: My creative process revolves around striving for impeccable quality. I enjoy taking on projects that others might consider challenging or impossible. From meeting with clients and discussing design concepts to working in the workshop with the wood, I love being involved in every stage of the process. For me, it’s essential that my creations are playful and bring a smile to people’s faces. I aim to create a sense of coziness and humor, embracing the concept of “coziness”, and I strive to solely create pieces that will be cherished for generations.
What are some of your favorite pieces that you’ve created?
Stephan: One of my favorite pieces is “Mr. Knox”, the vault that I created with working cranks and gears. Additionally, I had the opportunity to work on an entire house project in Amsterdam, where I designed and crafted beds, cabinets, wardrobes, chairs, tables, lamps, and more. Clients often discover my work through the jewelry and cabinetry I display at Puha, which serves as a valuable source of marketing and connections for me.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs in the field?
Stephan: After graduating, I struggled to find the working style that suited me best. However, I realized that I needed to rediscover the joy I experienced when making tools. My advice is not to be overly concerned with trends or selling initially. Instead, focus on finding internal motivation and follow where your joy lies. Make what you love doing into your career.
Text and photos by Anna Cleveland