Sharing personal stories through design with Stephanie Thatenhorst

Munich-based interior designer, Stephanie Thatenhorst leads an all-women team designing restaurants, hotels, shops and homes around the world. Her work encompasses the personal stories of her clients — providing a unique reflection of its inhabitants.

We sat down with Stephanie to learn more about her interior design practice and approach to design.

Tell us more about your background and how you got into interior design.

During my au-pair time in Australia, I learnt about architecture through my host dad. From that moment I was hooked and decided to study architecture.

I always felt a real passion for interior design, so this was the direction I took my career. I started in the restaurant business, and from there it took me to all kinds of projects — from private homes to hotels and even a dentist's practice.

Photography by Felipe Cordeiro.

What is fundamental to your practice – your philosophy and your process?

I’ve never really had a detailed master plan for my business. I always trusted my gut feeling, which has taken me to where I am today. Every single day, I’m so happy about what I create with my wonderful team.

I’d say the key to my designs is that we create stories — individual and very personal stories for every customer and the unique project. I love creating that way, yet always valuing the heritage of a project.

The spaces you design have such a beautiful selection of colour and materials. What inspires the choices you make for each project?

The heritage and the individual stories behind the project and residence are what inspire me the most. From that, I make choices. The finer details like the Hat Lights used in our Benediktiner Weissbräuhaus project is what makes the venue look complete. You might think it is not an essential detail, but those finer details are what makes a room so worthy.

Photography by Stefan Grau.

How do you characterise your design aesthetic?

I think there is no such thing as a “Thatenhorst-Look”. We create stories and every client story is different, so every project looks different. For sure there are elements I like working with and always will, for example, textiles, carpets, tiles, just different haptics. We are on the eclectic side of design. And of course, colour! When in doubt, always go with bold colours!

Can you fill us in on some recent projects you have worked on?

Luckily we have a big variety of different types of projects at the moment. I love it when they are all so individual, that is what keeps it interesting.

We are working on an amazing private project on the Balearic Islands, a hotel retreat project with a farm-to-table kitchen, yoga rooms, a great community place and very individual guest rooms. Next to that, we are working on an old farmhouse in Bavaria which we are going to remodel, several office projects and many more topics. I’m super grateful for this variety!

Photography by Günther Egger.

What are some of your methods to staying motivated, focused and expressive?

What motivates me the most are the people I work with. Meeting clients and working with them in such close relationships simply inspires me. They let me so deep into their lives, whether I’m designing their home or restaurant, and trust me with their story. That is just magical. Next to that, of course, the brands I work with inspire me with their creations. And last but not least, my amazing team. They are such unique creative souls and working with them inspires me in my daily life.

What advice would you give to emerging interior designers who want to follow your path?

Do not follow any path! Create your own story, trust in yourself and do what brings you joy.

Photography by Kerstin Weidemeyer.

Stephanie Thatenhorst’s fast five questions:

What are you reading right now?

Tons of emails every day ;)

Best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Just start it, when it doesn’t work, don’t stop but try again and do it better.

What colour are you drawn to and why?

Green is my absolute go-to-colour, not sure why, but it just works for me.

Your most treasured belonging?

My art pieces at home.

Your dream design project?

Would be an old house that I could remodel without any limits. I love working with heritage aspects in a project.