Kristallkontor: Steffen Dettmann focuses on decorative minerals in the interior design
What is your background? I grew up in a very creative family. As a child, I had a fascination with minerals and after finishing school I studied geology and other natural sciences. During this time I always worked artistically and had numerous exhibitions of my own. After completing my master’s degree, I worked in research for a few years, but finally made the switch to the private sector.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business? With my scientific and artistic development, I worked primarily in the area of museum exhibitions and correspondingly high quality. The work has always been very aesthetic and has shown many interesting overlaps in the field of visual art over the years.
In five years in which I worked in northern Sweden, I developed my personal preference for Scandinavian interior design and pursued and worked out a creative connection between the two major topics.
What was your mission at the outset? The initial idea was to implement the first combinations of my ideas at home – the consistent use of minerals as style elements in an atmosphere created by white furniture in the Gustavian style – which was very well received in my environment by architects, designers and, of course, good friends.
When did you “charter” the business? After a few years, while I was working internationally with mineralogists and designers, I was able to put my idea into concrete terms. At first at isolated exhibitions, which always gave me a very good response. Above all, my numerous professional experiences in Asia gave me tailwind. Due to the previous intensive developments in the past year, 2019, I opened my own shop under the appropriate name: Kristallkontor.
What is unique about your business? The unique selling point of my business is the combination that I have already mentioned: the consequent spatial implementation of a living environment with decorative minerals and the possibility to purchase not only the artistically refined crystals from us, but also the furniture, the original antiques from Sweden and Denmark.
You had been in China for more than 20 times, what is the one thing inspired you most there? In China I was very lucky to meet a Feng Shui master from a traditional family dynasty. The views and philosophies of the teacher, who has also become a very good friend, have given me great support in my project. The cultural discussion in particular inspired my idea very much, because crystals are of great importance in Chinese tradition, which I was intuitively aware of. Due to the thematic discussion, I was very encouraged in my project.
How many employees your company have? I started the company as a small unit, initially with my partner Stephanie Zwerner, with whom I share a passion for aesthetics. We work in close contact with artists, artisans and importers and, through my previous professional career, have access to first-class material directly from the sources. So the company is very flexible and modern. because ultimately it is not hierarchical, but consists of sole traders, all of whom have a common goal.
Do you know who your competitors are? The change in the world of mineralogy has certainly shown some interesting approaches in a decorative approach, but never ended in a consistent form. That is why I see our Project Kristallkontor as the first company in the world to add a hitherto unknown facet to interior design and to define a holistic style. I also gave our style a fitting name: mineralistic.
So far, there are no competitors in this overall picture, but only individual fragments that may be combined themselves.
What service(s) or product(s) do you offer/manufacture? First of all, we offer inspiration for our end customers and interested interior designers. As we are very flexible, as already described, we are able to record all sizes. These can be luxurious complete solutions for interior design, but also smaller individual objects that we look after with professional flair. As a highly creative team with exceptionally good contacts, we see no limits.
How do you advertise your business? Our business is very unusual, we work in a niche. The business lives primarily from good word of mouth, i.e. customers who pass on their own enthusiasm. Of course, public presentations are also essential, such as at local trade fairs – we were the top exhibitor at a German lifestyle trade fair after an event in the USA earlier this year.
Last year I successfully participated in the well-known interior fair INDEX in Dubai with a good cooperation partner. These appearances are an important advertising medium, especially for natural history objects, since this topic is difficult to convey online – you have to have seen and experienced it at least once before being able to abstract.
To what do you attribute your success? Haha, yes, I sometimes ask myself this question and get straight to the point: it is the passion and the knowledge conveyed with it. Success always lives with the people who persist in pursuing their creativity and determination. I live what I do! It is not without reason that newspaper and TV reporters come to me for events. A friend of mine would say that it is karma, a special cosmopolitan aura that surrounds me and thus also enables new contacts as a matter of course.
Do you use the services of a professional accountant or attorney? Since we are a reputable company, this question does not arise. Of course we follow all international legal requirements. The experiences in international cooperation of the last decades – a very long time – are a valuable basis, which is a necessary basis especially in intercultural business life.
What do you look for in an employee? We are not looking for employees directly, but instead for cooperation partners who, as part of our cooperation network, contribute to making the business model sustainable in the future. This can be done through creative ideas or simply opening doors in new projects. We are open to everyone.
What made you choose your current location? The location of our company is of course the place where we live. The city of Lübeck is world-famous as a historic tourist magnet. As part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region in Germany, we enjoy the advantages of international trade, which is known worldwide as a hub. The proximity to our Scandinavian neighbors is also a decisive advantage in the world of interior design.
Do you work locally or internationally? We are currently working more at the local level, i.e. in Northern Europe. Thanks to my international reputation and that of my business partners, we see great opportunities to score globally in our niche.
You participate in the exhibitions over the globe, where did you enjoy the most? The question is not easy to answer because I see myself as a global citizen. I feel just as at home in other cultures as here in Germany. Every country has its exciting people. I was particularly impressed by China, just as my experience of doing business in Dubai is formative and of great value. Even in the western world, whether in the USA or Europe, I have always found the diversity of cultures to be an enrichment and personally got involved.
What are your responsibilities as the business owner? Of course, I am initially responsible for myself. With my work I also support social projects and attach great importance to environmental issues. Responsibility has to do with my own attitude towards the quality of life, which is of course anchored in the company philosophy. After all, the customer also benefits from this responsible attitude.
Where do you see your business in the next years? I am convinced that my ideas will prove their worth and that contemporary changes will contribute to the progressive development of the business. The creative sector in particular lives from changes that I am heading towards with great confidence and customer focus.
My idea would be to expand the business with international branches that work in rotation with each other.
How has technology, such as computers and the internet, impacted on how you conduct business? Digital technologies do not influence my work, but bring opportunities into play that could be of particular interest to younger customers. Based on my experience, I think I can rule out that my business – it lives from unique pieces! – could be replaced digitally. I myself am very interested in using these technologies, but without losing sight of the real and natural. The little luxury that I offer will always remain exclusive to the customer who does not want a mass product.
What is your management style? In my understanding, traditional hierarchies in the business world have had their day. We are experiencing a change in society that is putting authoritarian business models to the test. I therefore prefer a flat hierarchy, i.e. a professional understanding that is based on mutual respect and uses skill properly or enables learning processes. The basic idea is that we all want to get better together.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be? Be open-minded, capable of criticism and do what you do with all your heart. – then it will be fine. The right time is always now!
For further information you can visit https://www.kristallkontor.de/