30. June 2020
What drives you and makes your heart beat faster? A great idea and pure passion? This was definitely the case with the two entrepreneurs Peter Schönhofen and Jürgen Reiter, the inventors of the joy of living and founders of KARE.
Off-the-peg furnishing design that doesn’t harm anyone and doesn’t want to attract attention is not their thing. Not today and not in 1981 when they caused quite a stir in the rather dusty furniture industry of the time with their start-up. What was the problem? Whether it was a designer chair or a shelf unit, when the two wanted to furnish their student flat in Munich, the range of products on offer in the local shops was either too boring or too expensive. They didn’t want conventional and conformist furniture, so they simply started their own business! After all, they were convinced that furnishing ideas reflect an attitude to life; the conviction that furniture, lighting and decorative objects should not only be functional, but should also send shivers down the spine. So it was time for the revolution with which the founders of the start-up created a new market segment.
A 40 square metre shop, two used Golfs and a huge logo with the portraits of Reiter and Schönhofen as the two furnishing fans were quickly put in place. Their boldness in venturing off the beaten track and their absolute determination to bring creative and inspiring furnishing ideas to the public have made KARE a worldwide community and represent a special attitude to life. Beyond all style dictates, boundaries and prejudices, KARE brings together people who want to make their homes unique and enjoy spicing up their lives with a touch of eccentricity – just like you!
The demand for KARE’s creative furnishing worlds is growing all the time. Today the two partners run a company with 200 shops in 50 countries, with an award-winning 10,000 m² flagship store in the shape of KARE Kraftwerk in Munich and, above all, with millions of customers worldwide.
Retail is change and standing still is a no-go area for our two founders and CEOs. At a time when some people still weren’t sure how to spell the word “digitalisation”, the company’s HQ was already developing an app with augmented reality and virtual reality applications for three-dimensional, photorealistic interior design. Today customers can beam sofas and armchairs into their own four walls not only via the KARE Room Designer app but also directly from the company’s website using augmented reality.
Furnishing, as CEO Peter Schönhofen describes it, is an experience for all the senses. That’s why we use Insta-stories to display spectacular living rooms and practical tricks for turning a small hallway into a stylish entrance. “When we hear from our customers in the stores that they have been influenced by our trend worlds and the planning ideas of our interior design professionals, that’s when we know that we’re doing things right”. Every year KARE Design surprises its community worldwide with hundreds of new products at international trade fairs such as the Salone del Mobile in Milan or the Parisian interior trade fair Maison & Objet, as well as in its stores.
Like no other furniture company our designers now combine styles, materials and colours. Petrol-coloured retro chairs with brass feet are grouped alongside an ultra-modern wire mesh side table, while a glass console table with its sculptural base becomes the stage for an extraordinary decorative ensemble featuring a golden gorilla, colourful glass vases and mirrored pictures. Our KARE styles can be found in homes from Los Angeles to Moscow – as well as in countless boutique hotels and stylish restaurants worldwide.
Modern, Cosy and Elegant are the main categories covering our style worlds, which are newly introduced and developed further several times a year by Jürgen Reiter and creative director Wolfgang Hückelheim. “We discover young design talents in the co-working spaces of creative hotspots, and travel deep into the hinterland of Rajasthan to visit traditional workshops. Together with our creative team and our stylists we develop new design ideas, making use of traditional crafts and combining them with an avant-garde touch. Or we salvage design treasures from style eras such as Art Deco and give them the typical KARE twist in the form of a cool home bar, for example”.
Are such designer pieces also to be found in the homes of the two creative heads of the company?
Peter Schönhofen enjoys spontaneously bringing home individual pieces of furniture or lamps on the mix-and-match principle, and combining them individually. The centre piece of the living area is a large, comfortable sofa, the focal point of family life with his wife and two daughters – and a cosy workspace for the final check on the company’s figures late in the evening. His style mantra is: no boring stuff and don’t brood forever over new pieces – just try things out! The family needs to feel relaxed from the first minute when everyone comes home.
Every two years Jürgen Reiter gives his apartment in an old building in Munich a make-over. Behind the French shutters on the windows, new worlds of colour and style unfold in every room. The focal point is the open-plan entrance area with a loft ambience and containing a kitchen, steel counter and an XL dining table for friends, family and relatives. The home office and library radiate meditative calm with fabric-covered walls and room-high, densely filled book shelves.
Together they both occupy the cockpit of our international group. Two individualists who have a common goal: to make the world of furnishing a happy place. In addition to their responsibilities as CEOs, each specialises in his own area of the company and respects the opinions and judgements of the other. A family business like ours is just the right size to be able to discuss questions and suggestions with staff quickly and without a lot of bureaucracy. “Of course we also have lively discussions, but these only add a certain amount of spice. And we can be demanding when it’s necessary – but always with the focus on the issue itself and always in the interests of finding the best solution for our customers. After all, we share the responsibility for all our employees.”
“People matter.” This maxim unites Reiter and Schönhofen. Whether it’s customers who makes their furnishing fantasies come true individually in personal contact with a personal KARE furnishing consultant, or members of the KARE team, either in a shop or in quality management in the back office, who experience freedom and trust in their work. It’s all about ensuring that people all over the world find it easier to turn their own four walls into a happy home.