Rainer Krause (1952 – 2013) in front of ceramics “indian memories“, designed by Ettore Sottsass.
Photo © Michael von Jakubowski
The first postmodern building in Germany: Rainer Krause‘s drugstore by Adolfo Natalini/Superstudio Firenze,
1976 til 1979. Photo © Aldo Ballo
Ceramic series “indian memories” by Ettore Sottsass: teapot “Cinnamon“, 1987. Photo © Peter Frank
As well “indian memories” by Sottsass: bowl “Sugar“ 1987. Photo © Anthologie Quartett
Bestseller: “Cellula“ by Nunzia Carbone and Tiziano Vudafieri, 1996. Photo © Anthologie Quartett
Skyscraper to salt: “Frankfurt‘s salt and pepper“ by architects Berghof Landes Rang, 1987.
Photo © Anthologie Quartett
“Tony No. 3“ by Ettore Sottsass, 1997, for Anthologie Quartett. Photo © Kai Georg
Head office of Anthologie Quartett: Castle Hünnefeld near Bad Essen/Germany. Photo © Anthologie Quartett
Anthology with friends
by Michael Peters
Mar 16, 2014

On June 6, 2013 Rainer Krause died, aged 60. With his death, the design community lost a marvelous man, a committed entrepreneur, patron and aesthete. When he dedicated all his energy to design he was realizing a childhood dream. He lived that dream day in day out, with all his being, with all its ups and downs. Rainer Krause was a sensitive believer, and given his knowledge and expertise there were few who were his equal, an adventurer who found concealed treasures before others even knew they existed. He did not follow some method or other, it was simply his talent. It was the way he was. Things were simply attracted to him, they found him. His talent for presenting the world of design to the general public offered others an opportunity to establish themselves. He did not believe in patience. Before something had firmed up he had already moved on. Not always did he give the things the time they needed, but he did open up many doors through which others later went.

Rainer Krause was born on September 4, 1952 as the son of a family of apothecaries in Lübbecke and his path thus seemed decided. He likewise became an apothecary. As a child he was already fascinated by the world of design, something his family did not always understand, for example when the then 13-year-old wanted a “Saarinen table” for Christmas. He nevertheless remained faithful to the apothecary’s profession until 1996, when he devoted himself completely to his passion and became a design entrepreneur.

As early as the end of the 1970s Krause had emphasized his feel for design and architecture with the new building for his drugstore in his hometown of Lübbecke, creating a symbol that it was hard to miss. He commissioned not just anyone but no less an architect than Adolfo Natalini from “Superstudio” in Florence to handle the planning, and the collaboration resulted in the first postmodern building in Germany. It was through Natalini that he discovered Italian design and down through the years made many friends and acquaintances there. For example with the Astoris at Driade, with Antonio Citterio, Alessandro Mendini, Paola Navone, Ettore Sottsass, Matteo Thun and other champions of the Memphis age. All of them often guested in Bad Essen. Their designs later formed the core of the collection at “Quartett”, which he founded in September 1983 together with three partners: a gallery for architecture, design, art and fashion in Hanover. The first collection it presented boasted designs by Bellefast, Borek Sipek, Ginbande, Ettore Sottsass, Philippe Starck, Matteo Thun and Daniel Weil – many of them just starting out in their careers. The occasion was the Cologne furniture fair in January 1984 and the Milan Salone del Mobile in September of that year. It was always great to listen to Krause speaking Italian, almost without any accent at all, and it was even more fun to visit him on his favorite island of Capri and see him living there.

Before he became involved entrepreneurially in the design world, he initiated various projects and highlighted “design” as a topic. As an exhibition organizer and museum creator he curated trailblazing presentations, examples being “Seitensprünge” (1986) in the “Galleria” in the Frankfurt trade fair grounds, and the extensive exhibition of children’s furniture (1988) to coincide with the “Ambiente” trade fair at the same venue. It would seem obvious that such activities led to him emerging as the moderator, networker and intermediary who familiarized German consumers with Italian design.

In 1987 Rainer Krause met Michael von Jakubowski, his new partner and business partner, and with him founded “Anthologie Quartett” as an independent company domiciled in Schloss Hünnefeld nr. Bad Essen, a production and distribution company for high-grade contemporary design products and product classics – hand-picked and professionally sold. This was followed in 1988 by the consultancy “Design ... Connections”, which he founded together with Michael von Jakubowski in the loft of the drugstore in Lübbecke, a company providing design management and design research and acting as consultant, exhibition organizer and design manager for clients including Rasch/Bramsche, Messe Frankfurt (the “Seitensprünge” design exhibition), the “Comitée Colbert”, the merger of French luxury companies, and other design-oriented companies and institutions. A highpoint of its endeavors was in 1992 the exhibition of “Zeitwände” contemporary wallpaper designs at Deutsches Tapetenmuseum in Kassel parallel to documenta 9.

In Milan, in 1989 the company also presented its own jewelry collection called “Best Friends – Modern Jewelry” and featuring items by Ettore Sottsass, Massimo Iosa-Ghini, Nanda Vigo, Mattar und Kruger through to exclusive collections by Garouste & Bonetti – “Anthologie Quartett” familiarized a new high-end clientele in Paris with the latter’s works. And in 1990 more than 30 designers were invited to think about the seemingly trivial theme of buttons for the project “Der Knopf zwischen Schmuck und Funktion”. The results were presented at the Milan Salone in a marvelous old costume jewelry factory. That same year the design museum “Mus’ign” was founded in Schloss Hollwinkel in Westphalia, with changing exhibitions in order to create the right backdrop for the items and to present design as a cultural asset. Today, products by “Anthologie Quartett” are part and parcel of the collections of both the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London as well as represented in all the key design annuals. Needless to say, they have won countless awards.

Anyone who knew him soon noticed that Rainer Krause was an exceptionally sensitive, emotional person, something that was expressed in everything he did and the way he presented himself. He was a quiet person, someone we could safely say had “absolute taste” the way others have an “absolute ear” for music, and someone who had an astonishing knowledge of the cultural sides of life. As his library, his own home and the way he lived revealed, and as did the clothes he so carefully chose for himself. Krause was highly persuasive, so firm and imperturbable was he, so certain in his judgments. He was never self-opinionated, but he could, if the person with whom he was talking lacked an understanding of the matter hand, be politely reserved. He was driven by his passion, by his wish to create some order in the “big world of design” – to the point committing himself to it as an entrepreneur. It was the flame that consumed him, throughout his life. Be it as a private collector or as a design entrepreneur, Rainer Krause wrote design and cultural history.

Calmness and a sense of harmony was something he found not only in Italy and on Capri, but also in gardens and parks. Which explains his love of the “Haus Sorgenfrei” hideaway in the grounds of Schloss Hünnefeld, which he and his partner transformed into such a magical setting and where he lived until his sudden death. What he created will endure. Michael von Jakubowski has planned to launch a re-edition of the classical designs will from April 2014 onwards.

Author Ph.D Michael Peters worked for many years for Messe Frankfurt before freelancing as a corporate consultant. Peters was a member of the Management Board of Messe Frankfurt from 1993 to 2010 with a focus on the consumer goods industry. Michael Peters studied Business Administration in Düsseldorf and Frankfurt.