Peter is on the left and Verena on the right, both standing in front of a shelf illuminated in warm light. Inside are vinyl singles, candles and products from Verena’s brand Orion Qubo.

Interview: Verena Siegel and Peter Stannes, founders of the interior design brand Orion Qubo

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“People in Düsseldorf are easygoing, relaxed and fun.”

Verena Siegel and Peter Stanness are the brains behind the Düsseldorf interior design label Orion Qubo, founded in 2018. The couple met in Berlin, where they ran two interior design shops together before family reasons prompted a move to Düsseldorf. A stroke of luck, according to Siegel, who was born in Düsseldorf but spent four decades in the German capital, and to Stanness, a British bass player who toured the world for many years with a number of different bands. In our interview, the creative couple reveal why Düsseldorf turned out to be the ideal location for them.

View of some shelves containing candles, 7-inch vinyl records and lamps.

Verena, you’ve got 20 years of experience in the home accessories business and have run shops in Berlin and in Sitges in Spain. When did you decide to establish your own brand?
Verena: We had two shops in Berlin, and we noticed that there were many similar looking, stereotypical designs being sold all over the city. We wanted to change that. So in 2018, we flew to Delhi, with just the contact details for a few Indian producers in our pocket, to look for new, undiscovered products. But once there we realised that the quantities that we would have to purchase far exceeded our own requirements. So we decided – quite on the spur of the moment – to become wholesalers and to create our own products. It didn’t take us long to find shops in Berlin that would add us to their range. That was the birth of Orion Qubo, in the autumn of 2018.

A section of a spiral staircase with stacks of magazines, a box of CDs and a Tears For Fears single.

Peter, you studied interior design in England.
Peter: I went to a college in the north-east of the UK, near Newcastle. You could study music there, but also design. It was a very creative place, with a cool vibe. The general atmosphere was a bit like in the musical Fame – everyone was doing something creative. There were dancers, artists, musicians and designers. Having started off with music, I then took some courses in interior design, set design and visual merchandising.

How does your collaboration work?
Peter: We share the work equally. That applies to everything from designing new products, planning the trade fair stand, packaging and shipping orders, and even the accounts.

View of some shelves containing candles, 7-inch vinyl records and lamps.
The vase, ceramic pots and candleholders are signature pieces from interior design brand Orion Qubo.

What do you consider to be good design?
Verena: For me, good design is something that is timeless and exudes an inherent sense of harmony. Something that I can look at every day without it becoming intrusive or irritating.
Peter: I prefer things to have a bit more flair than Verena, that’s probably due to me being British. I’m perfectly happy to have a few flowers and flourishes. So we balance each other out.

Where are your products made?
Peter: We only produce things in Europe now. That’s more eco-friendly.

A jumble of items are stored in a corner of the Orion Qubo studio, including vinyl records, cardboard tubes and signage.

Why did you locate your business in Düsseldorf?
Verena: Initially that was due to family reasons. But when we started to settle down in Düsseldorf we noticed just how good the city was for us – and how well it suited our needs.

What makes this city the perfect location for you?
Peter: It’s so central! You can just pop over to Amsterdam to buy some fabulous design magazines, and it takes no time at all to go to Paris or Frankfurt where our most important trade fairs are held. On top of that, Düsseldorf and the surrounding region have lots of privately run design events, markets and exhibitions that are brilliantly organised.

What is different here, compared to other cities you have lived in?
Peter: In Düsseldorf, they take a lot of care with their urban planning and development, I think that’s quite something.

What surprised you when you came?
Verena: How friendly the people are who you meet every day. They just smile at you in the street, even strangers greet each other. The people are easygoing, relaxed and fun.

What do you like most?
Peter: Düsseldorf has a bit of everything – I like that. Having a big river flowing through the city reminds me of home.
Verena: I love Düsseldorf’s unique architecture. We like to sit by the Kö-Bogen and enjoy the view of the water.

Peter and Verena of Orion Qubo are sitting next to each other on chairs and talking.
Verena Siegel and Peter Stanness founded their interior design label in 2018.

What do you show your friends when they come to visit?
Peter: We like to take them to the Triton fountain at the northern end of Königsallee at sunset, when flocks of parakeets come to roost in the chestnut trees.

And where would you go to eat?
Verena: The Funky Deli on Brunnenstrasse is great, they serve fabulous North African cuisine. If we lived closer, we’d be there all the time! But we also like to take visitors for drinks in the Füchschen.

Where is the best place for you to switch off?
Verena: During the pandemic we discovered the Aap and Grafenberg forests. After work we often get on our bikes and cycle out into nature for a bit. In the summer, we like to drink a glass of wine at one of the city’s beaches at sunset.

Do you have a favourite spot?
Verena: The Schauspielhaus theatre, not least because of its architecture.
Peter: I like Carlsplatz square and Königsallee. And in summer being on the Rhine promenade feels almost like being on holiday.
Verena: I also really like the ambience of Carlsplatz. And I enjoy the Rheinwiesen meadows in Oberkassel, where I’ll tend to include a detour to Café Muggel.

For a store locator and more information see www.orion-qubo.com.

Interview: Ilona Marx
Photos: Markus Luigs

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