To live in the centre of a city may sound excruciating with all its blaring sounds, the rushed tourists, and the inevitable lack of space. Munich, however, seems to be an exception to this metropolitan chaos as it still bares something rustic and familiar and offers quiet shelters.In between Stachus and Sendlinger Tor, small side streets rest along old, small houses that seem to be isolated from the Kaufingerstraße turmoil. An especial flair houses within Damenstiftstraße that reminds of the good old times and it is exactly here where Tobias Petri and his small family reside. One immediately notices that nice things are valued in Tobias’ house. Upscale shirts, exquisite espresso, and of course fresh pretzles with butter are a customary thing here. Tobias doesn’t give off the physical impression of a carpenter but rather seems to embody an intellectual. However the wooden trait was learned from scratch and right after his apprenticeship Tobias and his carpenter-friend Sven Petzhold founded the company Holzrausch.At the very beginning of its birth, Holzrausch had a set of visions but yet was to set concrete ideals. Slowly but surely it began to turn into a solid business that now plans and transforms interior wishes of private as well as larger clients. As diverse the projects as consistent the style: minimalistic and reduced to the bare essentials, but of high quality.The home of Tobias and his family has also been touched by the overall Holzrausch concept and shows how well an old building is able to harmonize with modernity.This portrait is part of our ongoing collaboration with ZEIT Online who presents a special curation of our pictures on their site.
Where do you originally come from and how did Holzrausch begin?
I was born in Pasing and grew up in Buchendorf, which is close to Gauting. After school, I immediately began my carpenter education and then afterwards went directly to the service. At the service I met Sven, who nowadays is my partner at Holzrausch. Since the very beginning we got along really well and would talk about founding a company one day in order to put our ideas into something concrete. This is how it really started.
In 1998, not long after I had finished the service, I rented a hall in Forstern that was furnished as a carpentry. It was of huge advantage since most of the tools were already there. It is extremely expensive if you have to buy those tools as a carpenter at the very beginning of your career.
Back then, was it a decision as a result from an early passion for interior?
I am not sure it was because of passion. Back then it was more about the question what I wanted to do and becoming a carpenter seemed like a good idea. At the very beginning it was not so much about interior but really just about the act of carpentry. We rented the hall and basically waited for something to happen. After six weeks, we drove to Hannover and built the exhibition booth for Telekom at Cebit. With this, we received our start-up capital and everything began to blossom.
The wish to transform our very own ideas has been there since the very start. We never wanted to push the firm into becoming something big in a short amount of time. It developed slowly but steadily into a company of 25 people with a planning office.
Did the success surprise you?
No, not really as our clients come to us for what we do. Not many companies offer that in this particular region. Our clients look for something modern and timeless. We are specialize in craftsmanship, detail, and style.
The name is a little misleading as you do not solely work with wood.
Yes, this often leads to misunderstandings. But from the beginning on we used to work with film companies and trade shows and therefore have always used different materials. I cannot say how this name actually came into existence. The rustling of the wood does encompass our theme. It was more like this: we are experienced carpenters and the overall them of wood naturally fits with this. Back then it was not a standard thing to combine two words like today.
How important is the Bavarian carpentry tradition?
Of course we are very proud that it is being produced here and the overall act of craftsmanship matters a great deal. However, we are not traditional in the style but rather in the craftsmanship itself.
Where do you get your materials from?
It all comes from around here. We get the wood and overall materials from local timber dealers.
Materials like stone and steel come also from local places which we have worked with for many years.
We have only very few people that come from further away. Of course there are exceptions with certain wishes and one needs to see where to get the materials from. But in general everything comes from around here. We don’t limit ourselves.
You mentioned that trend is not really something you work with; but reduction and sustainability are part of a trend, aren’t they?
I don’t agree. Personally, I don’t think that the idea of reduction can ever become a trend, as to bare it down to the very essentials with high quality materials is something that will last for many years.
Especially within the realm of interior design things always change – new materials are being used, style and form alter, etc. We are quite settled with this and know what we like. Of course in terms of sustainability we might be part of a trend, but we are not part of a trend in regards to how things are being designed.
People say that minimalism is over now and it is a trend to have lots of decorations again. I don’t agree with that and think reduced rooms are something really great.
What is the typical Holzrausch client like?
There is a private part and a section for exhibtions and events which differ quite a lot. Both possess their allure. Something tempting with trade shows is that big things must come into creation in a very short amount of time.
The private, in comparison, goes extremely into detail. At the moment we are doing a lot of private interior decoration. These clients care about a beautiful environment and value what they buy and what they want to own.
It certainly can happen that we will spend two years building a kitchen, discussing each and every single detail with the client. This is something people seek, who don’t want to buy whatever kitchen from whatever company but really want something that is customized specifically to their wishes. It is a collaboration and becomes easier if the clients have a concrete, clear idea about what they actually want.
Besides the interior, I also noticed the lighting. Do you have someone specific for this?
No, this is part of the planning office. We founded ‘Holzrausch Planung’ in 2011 together with Nina Schreiber. We develop overall concepts there. This apartment here is an example, since basically everything was planned by us: drywall installation, heating, electricity, lighting.
Lighting takes a big roll and is very important in everything. We do not have a light specialist but it is created together with the interior architects.
Are you different than a Holzrausch client?
I care a lot about detail. This used to be ruin that had been untouched for 40 years. There was not even heating. The flat was a mess. It took about 5 months to plan and refurbish everything and the installations with Holzrausch came at the very end.
What about this little wooden room?
It has not been here for long. A friend moved in next door and we told him that we wanted this room as a relaxation room. It is very different from the flat as it is paneled with douglas spruce wood and very minimalistic. We currently use this room a lot in the evening. Door is closed and silence.
How is your flat developing otherwise?
It is a permanent process. We just redid the courtyard, which used to be a complete mess. We painted the walls in yellow, displayed wood, planted a few flowers, and at night beautiful lights are dispersed everywhere now. Quiescence shall never rule here. Of course, one day it will be completely finished, but still some small things are missing and need to be done. I prefer that, though. It is much better than to move into a flat where everything is perfect from the get-go.
What changes with a kid?
Total chaos is constantly there. He does create a mess, but without him it would not make much sense to redo the courtyard or put that much effort into the flat. Things do change with a child and one begins to start thinking differently.
You live right in the center of Munich. Was this on purpose?
I lived in this very house years ago – in a shared flat on the first floor. We basically came here because we were able to do everything ourselves. Of course living closer to the greener side would be nice, but the centrality of this place is just great. I suppose Glockenbach would have been our choice if anything.
It gets a little quiet here but downstairs is our favourite bar which also brings a bit of life into this neighbourhood. Things are being luxurized right now like the building across from us.
Making things luxurious is a heavly discussed topic within the city….
I don’t really have a problem with that as we sort of live from it. But it must stay in proportion. I find it difficult as it is happening currently around Parkcafé. But I don’t mind if it is about refurbishing flats and houses in a high quality.
This place Charles is really the only location where it would be too much for me in regards to exaggerated luxury. For example the Arnulfpark is problematic not because it is too luxurious but really because of the way it has been overally designed. The house in Müllerstraße that is around the corner and is a big complex within the historic centre is not a problem to me.
Do you think a concept like yours works so well because you are in a city like Munich?
People care about living well here. However, we are not only concentrated within Munich but really all over Germany, as well as in Switzerland. Whoever lives in Munich enjoys life and the comfort that is provided by the city itself. Of course a nicely furnished apartment comes hand in hand with that sort of lifestyle.
Could you imagine that one day a Holzrausch kitchen would become something like a status symbol?
I don’ think so. Our clients are not about that. Most people wouldn’t recognize the effort put into this. If someone wants a status symbol, he/she would get a kitchen that would immediately be recognized by the brand. Thank god this is not what it is about at our company. It would be a shame.
Do you see yourself in Munich in the future?
Jobwise I am tied to this place, but I don’t wish to committ myself solely to be at one place. We have a place in the Toscana, Italy and are there a lot. Giving up Munich fully would not happen as I probably would need then to give up Holzrausch.
Where do you see the firm go in the next 10-20 years?
It will continue in similiar ways in regards to what we are doing right now. But we will improve things innerly and hopefully professionalize everything so things will happen smoother and there is a real routine. We want stay constant in regards to quality, but perhaps standarize the products and make it a bit more affordable.
Thank you so much for your time Tobias. Whoever wants to check out the design and overall work of Tobias’ company should go here.
This portrait is part of our ongoing collaboration with ZEIT Online who presents a special curation of our pictures on their site. Check out the special selection here.
Interview: Isabel Robles Salgado
Photography: Christoph Schaller