DMTV Milkshake: Capturing the Essence of Stone With José Miguel Schnaider

In an increasingly digital world, organic materials become totems – connections to a time we might remember as simpler, and better, and certainly more connected to the natural world. That tension – between our digital-first lives and our increasingly stunted relationship between ourselves and nature – powers José Miguel Schnaider’s work. As the founder and creative director of Sten Studio in Mexico City, he incorporates stone and crystal into furniture and decorative objects. “The digital world will keep growing, and the way I see it is that stones or organic materials connect us with the essence of nature,” he says. “Imagine that you live in a city where you cannot see green – how can you connect with nature? Either you have plants or organic materials.” His furniture fits the bill.

In this week’s Milkshake, Schnaider shares how he works with stones, as well as his creative evolution from his earliest projects: “I started coming up with the idea of making a coffee table made of obsidian and copper,” he says. “I didn’t have that much [in the way] of drawing skills, so basically I used a PowerPoint presentation to start playing with the hexagons – that’s how the shape of the honeycomb table came to life. Then I thought that I didn’t want to use brass as the main material since I thought it was very [overused], which is why I wanted to use copper – the combination of obsidian and the copper was fantastic.” As to the specific qualities of obsidian and the other stones he works with: “The most challenging part of working with stones is their diverse nature,” he says. “Each stone is different and each requires different transformation techniques. For example, it’s not the same working with an onyx, which is constantly solid, than working with a fluorite – a crystal conglomerate that if you work it very fast, it will start scrambling. So it’s understanding each material in order to transform it.” For more, tune in!

spheres of natural stones hanging on a wall arranged in two circles

A minimalist room with floating shelves displaying various artistic objects, including a display of spheres of natural stones hanging above the shelf

two coffee tables and two white walls with mirrors hung in the middle of a desert-like background

natural black stone wall sculpture in a living room with shadows on the wall

three tiered coffee table with books on it next to a window

four stone objects arranged in a line in a white room

three natural stone totems on a white background

Diana Ostrom, who has written for Wallpaper, Interior Design, ID, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets, is also the author of Faraway Places, a newsletter about travel.

Milkshake, DMTV (Design Milk TV)’s first regular series, shakes up the traditional interview format by asking designers, creatives, educators, and industry professionals to select interview questions at random from their favorite bowl or vessel. During their candid discussions, you’ll not only gain a peek into their personal homeware collections, but also valuable insights into their work, life, and passions.

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