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House Guest: Daniel Baer

We spent the morning at home with Monoware’s founder, Daniel Baer, for our last House Guest of the year, and talked about morning rituals, hosting and dinner party menus over a cup of slowly brewed coffee (in an Everyday Mug, of course).
House Guest: Daniel Baer
House Guest: Daniel Baer

Unsurprisingly at Monoware, we think a lot about the home. How tables are laid, how meals are cooked, how house guests are welcomed – how a space feels when it’s just you and the lights go off. And that might be because Monoware takes form in our own home. Or rather, the house of our founder, Daniel Baer. 

When you enter Daniel’s house, a calmness washes over you. There’s somewhat of a ritual, even just upon entering. A greeting by the glass doors. Shoes off and straight into the kitchen where Daniel will make you a pour-over coffee or a pot of tea that will rest until it’s ready. In true Monoware style, being a guest at Daniel’s is all about slowing down and taking in the surroundings: the walled garden bathed in sunlight, the high ceilings, the uncluttered smooth surfaces, and of course, the Monoware objects. 

For our last House Guest interview of the year, we thought it fitting to sit down with Daniel in the place where Monoware has grown up, to talk about morning rituals , hosting and the ordinary object that has a special significance in his kitchen. 

Did you always have a strong connection to design when growing up? 
As far as I can remember, I was always curious how objects are made and where they come from. My father had a workshop where he would tinker on old cars, watches and broken cameras – there was nothing he couldn’t fix and disposing of it simply because it stopped working wasn’t encouraged in our home. From an early age, I came to appreciate that well crafted design is made to last. 

What's a typical morning ritual for you? 
Without exception, each day starts with an early wake-up call courtesy of my 4 year old, followed by a race to switch on the coffee machine. Since it is usually still dark outside, we like to light a candle and incense together, our small ritual together to welcome the day. The first coffee in the morning is closely followed by the nursery run - and ideally a brief pause to consider how to make the most of the day ahead.

How do you like to host at home? 
I love having friends over, especially for a long lunch on the weekend. It is always a very care-free affair, with kids running around and lots of music. Our rule is to have no rules – everyone's gathering around the kitchen table and is lending a hand. I usually set the table in advance to match the occasion and get the main dish under way, but lots of the actual cooking is happening with guests around. 

Do you test a lot of the Monoware products? 
We use each and every object in our collection at home before it goes into production. It feels like taking work ‘home’, but it is an important part of our design process and helps me figure out whether we missed anything. I spent a lot of time using our ceramics before the launch – in particular the mug was a challenge to get the capacity and shape right, because of its distinctive transition from square base to a round top.

Where do you get your inspiration for the brand from? 
All products are deeply rooted in how we live our daily lives. I draw a lot of information from ordinary objects, in particular the ones which perform a function we usually take for granted. Generally, every design starts with the question: How can we improve an everyday object we use everyday? A good example is our newly launched cutlery range. These are important utensils which are used everyday and if badly designed, can negatively impact how we enjoy a meal.

What's on the menu for a typical dinner gathering at yours?
Whatever the occasion, it has to be a simple and dependable family favorite. I learned from experience to avoid trying new recipes when hosting. Very often I make a tray bake (such as our miso chicken), a salad and vegetable dish served alongside quinoa or rice. We live next door to a great Italian ice cream shop – for dessert we usually serve a mix of different flavors to please everyone. 

Can you tell us about an ordinary object that has a special significance in your kitchen? 
Several years ago when I met my husband, we used to rush after work to Maze Hill to take pottery classes. I was obsessed with throwing the perfect bowl. Whereas everyone in the class progressed to more advanced shapes, such as mugs with handles and containers – I just couldn’t let go. This bowl is the closest I got to what I had in mind, and ultimately formed an inspiration for our grain bowl. It serves as a reminder of where it all started. 

What's your favourite Monoware piece?
It keeps changing with the seasons, but at the moment it is the candle holder pair. 

What’s a dish that reminds you of home?
Crispy potato roesti with a fried egg

Your favourite cuisine?

Best song/album for a dinner party?
Dreams by Fleetwood Mac


Portrait by Chris Horwood

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