Spotlight: Meet Raoul Mauerberger from STEEL + BONE
Steel + Bone is an Interior Design Studio based in Cape Town run by designer, project manager and builder Raoul Mauerberger who shares a lifelong passion for architecture. His 30-year career in retail, residential and concept development projects has distinguished him as a sought-after physical design practitioner. We chatted with Raoul about the latest industry trends and some up-and-coming projects the brand currently has in development…
Tell us about your business name?
Steel is the man-made structure of a building, mirroring our bones, the physical foundation of humanity, so together; we Design + Build + Decorate.
How would you describe your style?
I prefer clean lines, incorporating an effortless flow. I specialise in maximising the use of space, whether large or small. I like to add interest by the addition of understated tones, textures and well thought-out unique design elements.
What sets your brand apart in the industry at the moment?
As a brand, we pride ourselves on offering our clients a holistic approach to their property development. We are not merely a single-tier operation and offer both the practical and creative elements of any project.
On the practical side, sourcing the right investment, dealing with professionals, building, management, right through to a successful sale.
On the creative side, we are also able to head all the design aspects of the property, ranging from: building design and layout, mechanical design, kitchen and custom furniture design as well as a full interior design compliment.
This is quite beneficial to our clients as we are able to provide a one-stop offering from inception through to successful completion.
We work very closely with our clients, guiding them through this often, quite overwhelming process by turning their dream spaces into their real homes.
What is the most recent purchase you’ve made for your own home and why?
It has to be my customised, anthracite leather arm chair manufactured by “Brisago by Jo Carlin”, who’s furniture quality is exceptional.
This chair is an extension of my design offering. Take something classic and add your personal touch and you have a one-off piece that you will always connect to. This chair is my sanctuary; a space where I can relax and let my creative mind flow.
What one design element can you not live without?
Proportion and scale are vital to the central core of my work. Being a perfectionist, it’s paramount that items fit proportionately in one’s space. I am also driven by clean lines, symmetry and flow.
What design influence has had the greatest influence on your work and business?
These days, there is so much information which is readily available, I get visually stimulated by so many different influences, ranging from Carlo Scarpa to Tamizo and all those who share the common thread as highlighted above.
What has been one of the most challenging projects you have worked on?
When I started out in this industry, several aspects presented major challenges on certain sized projects; costly changes, time management and scheduling between clients, professionals, subcontractors etc. It was for this precise reason Steel + Bone was born. We integrate all these aspects into a one-stop seamless process, thus saving the clients time, money and stress.
How would you describe the design industry in South Africa at present?
South Africans are extremely hard working, creative people, with a wealth of unique and natural talent. As a country, we also have a vast amount of natural materials to draw from. Steel + Bone, along with our artisans, are able to design, conceptualise and implement unique pieces.
What trends do you think we should keep an eye on in upcoming seasons?
One thing that we have learnt from these last few years, is that less is more. It’s time to clean life and rid ourselves of unnecessary clutter. Changing trends every year creates an unnecessary expense. Therefore Steel + Bone prefers a neutral palette, whereby clients are able to build upon should they so wish to update their look. Although I keep up to date with what’s happening around me, I don’t believe one should only follow trends, but rather create an everlasting baseline design element that is conducive to additions or changes.
What exciting projects are you busy with and have planned for the next year?
I am currently completing a project along the Atlantic Seaboard which is soon to be available for purchase by prospective buyers –– understanding the requirements of the market and ultimately ensuring that the final project will be immaculately presented will aid in a quick and seamless sale. I’ve also been working remotely on a project in the UK and am busy briefing on a condo in Miami. Our offering allows us to work on international projects. We design, produce locally and ship internationally with a seriously competitive landing cost. This has become a large segment of our business. As such our international client base is growing constantly, this also brings an interest in the South African market from abroad. We see a huge future in both local and international design all with a South African flair. I am also busy working on another beautiful house in Camps Bay, with a great developer, that I am really excited to work with.
Tell us more about your latest interior project – it’s so chic, inviting and inspiring?
The project featured is actually 5 years old already but it has that look that I feel lasts which is the essence of what we produce. The very fact that this property has caught your eye proves that our designs are classic and remain current. Our clients on this project were amazing, they basically gave us carte blanch to create a sophisticated, well-planned living space.
The kitchen is beautiful. Tell us more about the lighting, the hardware used and your thinking when designing the layout?
I love designing kitchens. Having some experience in the restaurant industry, I have practical knowledge of what is required in a kitchen. Our kitchens follow the same theme we apply to our model, clean and uncluttered, rather adding interesting finishes. As a designer, one is really put to the test in a kitchen. I choose Nieman’s durable imported doors and drawers and never compromise on hardware by Blum or Grass. Well-lit surfaces, pathways and decorative lighting are a must, especially in a semi-open-plan design such as in this home.
In each kitchen, I try to add a one-off feature that is totally unique. In this case, it was the seamless glass sliding counter-top divider by Glassbenders. This can separate the kitchen from the bar during cooking times, acting as a splashback that seamlessly channels the hop steam up towards the ceiling-mounted extraction. One can also open it up entirely for interaction between those at the bar and hob, so the option of an open plan or a separate kitchen with a hint of a connection is achieved.
The interior is modern, offering clean lines with the use of a natural stone looks – which can sometimes feel bland if used incorrectly, How did you bring it all together – to create softness through the furnishings that look so comfortable yet still keeping it so stylish?
I feel a lot of it has to do with being greeted by the statement display unit, set against the warm lit wall of marble by Studio Masson, random steel display boxes, also gently backlit via slim hidden grooves, sitting seamlessly on wooden shelves. A warm grey, textured sofa with subtle tones and contrasting scatters, natural oak custom stained coffee table incorporating natural Steel, on a lush silk rug by Gonsenhauser’s Fine Rugs. An oak stained dining table, complimented by OKHA’s incredible dining chairs. All connect to the integrated French grey wood bar and counter, which forms the boundary to the kitchen and dining room. We used a lot of different finishes, all keeping to the theme but adding to the interest, This combination resulted in a warm, sophisticated living space.
We love the mix of custom and contemporary furniture and warm lighting. Can you elaborate on these choices?
With the furniture, we have drawn inspiration from all over, although keeping the designs quite subtle. We prefer clean lined furniture designs with textured fabrics, matt leathers and subtle colours, incorporating warm stained wood and steel.
We used a lot of warm, dimmable lighting by Newport: Seamless troughs, trim less flush down lighters, trim-less flush dimmable wall mounted LED lighting at the seated bar and drinks bar as well as hidden LED effect lighting all over, adding to the warmth of this apartment. Not to forget all that natural sea-facing light being let in by Sunflex’s frameless stacking glass doors.
What was your approach to the more personal spaces in the home, such as the bathrooms?
We placed plenty of thought into the bathrooms, similar to that of the kitchen as these areas were all open plan. So by using the same concept as with the living area, we feel we achieved this by staging the bathrooms as showpieces by connecting them to the bedrooms, with full wall slabs throughout, complete with integrated customised basins, we essentially left no bare walls, only glamorous cladded walls to impress.
Furthermore, we created something really special for a guest cloakroom. Similar to that of a restaurant, not only judged by their food, service and atmosphere, the guest cloakroom is a chance to really add something special. I feel we really achieved this in the home. I work a lot with Rock and Stone, a great team of artisans who helped me give life to this unique design. In essence, we created a floating stone slab, strategically manipulated to channel the flowing water seamlessly beyond a charcoal mirror and marble backdrop.
It takes a team to put together a home of this stature. Which suppliers were involved in creating this unique space?
Steel + Bone: Steel + Bone
Studio Masson: www.studiomasson.co.za
Rock & Stone: www.rockandstone.co.za
Gonsenhausers Fine Rugs: www.finerugs.co.za
Newport Lighting: www.newport.co.za
Brisago By Jo Carlin Designs: +27 64 754-7226
Photographed by Niel Vos Photography +27 72 918-6296 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit Steel + Bone for more inspiration and to bring your own interior visions to life.
- Designers, Décorators & Architects