Jo Staffelbach-Heinz made a specific request when she married Andre Staffelbach in Switzerland’s wine country in the early 1990s: that the two forsake traditional wedding vows and instead be pronounced “partners in life.”
It made sense. The couple had already been working in tandem for eight years, having merged their companies in 1985 to create STAFFELBACH, the design firm responsible for the interior fit-out of the Mavericks’ Boeing 757, spruced-up American Airlines Admiral’s Club lounges across the country, and some of the most striking office spaces in North Texas.
Recently, the duo formed a new partnership—this time with Toronto-based furniture manufacturer Nienkamper. Together, they’ve produced Davos, a moderately priced, environmentally conscious line of office furniture that is both an extension of and a departure from the permanency of STAFFELBACH’s previous work.
The result? Furniture that functions like walls while retaining mobility, allowing clients to reinvent office spaces without the sometimes pricey cost of construction.
“If you have an office, you can put [the furniture] in your office and it works for you,” Staffelbach explains. “For an open plan, you can place it there and it works for you. If you move, you just pack it up and take it with you.”
The line is as flexible as the founder and creative principal’s ever-evolving approach to design. Case in point: the first offices Staffelbach
developed while working in Zurich in the 1960s were designed to accommodate the typewriter. Today, the Davos catalogue showcases a desk with a built-in well meant to hold (and conceal) unsightly iPad cords.
Others might tire of keeping pace with the changing needs of each generation’s work force. For Staffelbach, the opposite is true.
“When I work, I really never look back,” he says. “I always look forward. That’s what excites me—what’s next. As long as it’s a challenge, I love it.”
One of only four Texans to be inducted into the International Interior Design Hall of Fame, Staffelbach has tackled projects in England, Germany, Russia, and Switzerland. He’s also biked the mountain passes of the Tour de France three times—most recently in 2009, on his 70th birthday.
As for the future?
“I think the one thing we will know, is that it won’t be the way it was,” Staffelbach says. “That we can be certain of.”