Mike Meiré was born in 1964 in Darmstadt. He is a person of many professions: a designer, graphic designer, artistic director, artist and curator. He lives and works in Cologne. In 1987 he opened the Meiré und Meiré agency with his brother Mark. In 2001 he established Neo Noto, a company producing cultural events. He has been an artistic director of many magazines and has received a number of industry awards and distinctions for their designs. For 20 years he has collaborated with Dornbracht i.a. on cultural projects. Photo courtesy Meiré und Meiré

CULTURALLY ENGAGED

INTERVIEWER: DARIA LINERT

COLOGNE 1.1.2016

ARCHITECTURE ART DESIGN LIFESTYLE PEOPLE

‘At Meiré und Meiré we developed a brand code composed of three central values: respect, accuracy and meaning, as well as a leadership potential. Meaning is the deepest statement, the core and the real nature of the brand, commitment is the mode of action in culture, while leadership – a predisposition towards introducing innovations,’ says Mike Meiré, a co-founder of the legendary German agency.
Design, graphic design or art – which field interests you the most?
- It is hard to say, though if I was not committed to all of them, I could not be doing what I am doing, especially because it is difficult to separate them. It all started with designing magazines. In 1983 we established the Apart magazine, dedicated to modern art and culture, while today we are responsible for the artistic form of i.a. 032c, Dasha Zhukova's Fashion, Garage, Brand Eins, GQ (Gentlemen's Quarterly Italy), Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Kids’ Wear or the legendary Cahier d’Art from Paris. Designing magazines is still the essence of Meiré und Meiré.

Your agency is recognizable not only on the German market...
- For over 25 years, Meiré und Meiré has worked for German and international brands, operating on the borderline of culture and design. We continue to carry out successful publishing designs. Our new projects include refreshing the visual identification for Agnona, an Italian producer of cashmere clothes, or the creation of a pop-up store during the Fashion Week in Milan. In addition, for over 12 years we have collaborated with the Mini brand; we designed their stall displayed at the IAA international automotive trade fair in Frankfurt.

You have also collaborated with Dornbracht for a long time. Do you remember how it all began?
- Our collaboration with Dornbracht started over 20 years ago. Meiré und Meiré is responsible for the creative vision of the brand and cooperates with it in many areas such as design, culture, brand strategy or architecture. We support the company in its transformation into an important brand of luxurious bathroom fittings and accessories, as well as in building the image of a recognizable leader of the industry. In 1996 we initiated a new cultural direction: ‘Kultur im Bad’ [culture in the bathroom]. We inspected the rituals and cultural aspects related to the bathroom based on the continuous exchange of ideas with artists, architects, musicians and designers. Through the years, as Dornbracht Culture Projects, we have carried out a number of interesting projects, exhibitions significant in the artistic environment and performances with eminent artists. For me, two of them are most important: E–R–S (Energetic – Recovery – System), a new, ritual approach to culture in the bathroom developed as part of Dornbracht Edges in 2003, and The Farm Project within the same cycle, which I prepared three years later. The Farm Project was presented i.a. during the Salone Internazionale del Mobile trade fair in Milan and during Design Miami. That exhibition reflected the contemporary ideas of urban agriculture.

Companies promote themselves mainly by sponsoring sport, but there are exceptions: some of them decide to advertise themselves via culture...
- The company defined itself as a producer of high quality bathroom fittings many years ago, but – by its permanent culture-creating engagement and assuming the role of an innovation leader – it went far beyond the kitchen and bathroom architecture. The exploration of the ‘culture in the bathroom’ topic is reflected in the long-term commitment to culture and art. Thus, Dornbracht supports and initiates projects on the borderline of design, art and architecture. It also shows the way we work at Meiré und Meiré. We developed a brand code composed of three central values: respect, accuracy and meaning, as well as a leadership potential. Meaning is the deepest statement, the core and the real nature of the brand, commitment is the mode of action in culture, while leadership – a predisposition towards introducing innovations.

Do the cultural projects that you carry out translate into the sale and income of the brand or are they only image-related activities?
- The cultural identity of Dornbracht is reflected in the development of products and in the products themselves. The research on bathroom and kitchen conducted for many years led the company to new questions, ideas and solutions. This added value may result in the consumers’ bigger acceptance for the activities of the company and appreciation for its products. Certainly, it requires appropriate image research, but what the brand needs in the long run is an authentic influence on the consumers’ hierarchy of values and the ability to identify itself with it.

Does promoting a brand via culture make sense only in the case of long-term activities?
- For us, engaging in cultural projects means long-term activities which comply with the rules of sustainable development and whose influence continuously increases. Meiré und Meiré creates and develops cultural projects for companies and brands in Germany and abroad. Their aim is the increase of social significance, reaching specific target groups or becoming more visible on difficult markets.

The work gives you a lot of satisfaction. What are you most proud of?
- The fact that I am still curious of the world, open-minded and surrounded by wonderful people. As a private person, I pride myself on the marvellous family which I have created together with my wife Michelle and our three great boys. I can be an artistic director, artist, designer, architect, curator, publisher and cultural ambassador – I have managed to do all that simultaneously for over 25 years. I appreciate the diversity of artistic fields. Even if this requires me to be very self-disciplined, it also keeps me in a continuous creative flow.