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Interview: Raimund Schucht

Raimund Schucht realizes spaces and stage designs for the Berlin-based agency TRIAD and the Movimentos Festwochen Wolfsburg, among others. After completing his apprenticeship as an interior decorator and subsequently studying architecture, he studied at the Master’s program Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum of the TU Berlin from 2013 to 2015.

Raimund, you have studied architecture before, did you already have your current job in mind at the beginning of your studies?
I had already realized during my architectural studies that classical architecture will not be my path. Therefore, I was looking for an alternative that would combine my experiences from apprenticeship as an interior decorator and my classical architecture studies. I had a strong desire to combine media and architecture – so I worked in agencies that specialized in virtual and interactive spaces when I was a student. After a few years of agency life, I felt the need to fill spaces with content and life, to bring spaces to life, to charge them with spirit and emotions. This is how scenography came into play.

What were your expectations when you began your studies here?
Actually, I started the Master’s program without much expectation, and one should not misunderstand that! It was a privilege for me to study again. Therefore, my goal was to just get as many impulses as possible. Eventually, the artistic handling of space came more and more into focus. At the end of my studies, I had the feeling that all my previous studies had now come together in one profession. For the first time my many professional detours finally made sense! That’s a very good feeling which I continue having until today.

What were your priorities, were you interested stage design or in the scenic space?
At the beginning my focus was on ​​scenic space, at which time my interest was still strongly driven towards digital interactions. Over the course of my Master’s studies, I developed a curiosity about how content and interaction can be blended together. The approaches could also be analog. It was important for me to question old ways of thinking and to allow new ideas. My goal was to let go of the rather structural planning I learned when working in architecture, to break the boundaries of the strongly digital-driven architectural processes. I rather wanted to incorporate artistic aspects, such as painting or model making, into my creative work. I got new input from fellow students and lecturers, all of whom came from a wide variety of fields and also from the field of stage design that I had actually previously ignored. The confrontation with the stages of Hans Dieter Schaal and the Bauhaus stages of Oskar Schlemmer especially led me to new trains of thought. It was especially their transformation of architectural means into stage sets or costume pictures and scenographies that I found inspiring. These strong inspirations from the field of stage design are still incorporated into my design processes – be it for an exhibition, a trade fair stand or retail architecture.

What was so special about studying at the TU Berlin?
For me, it was the people behind the Master’s program who were truly special. It really was the diversity of cultural and professional backgrounds of the classmates and the lecturers that enabled a lively and inspiring student life. The practical training helped me to establish international contacts. The artistic approach and the analogue way of working also introduced me to new, inspiring ideas.

And have you been able to get in contact with clients during the practice-oriented study at the TU?
Early in my studies, I used existing contacts with cooperation partners or made new ones. My entry into the agency life also began during my studies at the TU. In the third semester, thanks to the help of two of my lecturers, I was able to establish contact with TRIAD, a Berlin-based agency for communication in space. I completed my obligatory internship there. Ever since I have been working as a freelancer for TRIAD. My first steps in the field of stage design were also made possible by lecturers at TU Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum. I was able to realize a set design for the award ceremony of the KAIROS Prize for the Töpferstiftung at the Staatstheater Hamburg with two fellow students. Through this program, we made contact with the Movimentos Academy. Since then we have realized several stage sets as an alumni team for the Movimentos Festival at the Theater Wolfsburg.

What do you like most about your job?
I especially like the versatility of this profession. In order to be able to experience all aspects of it, I have decided to become self-employed as a freelancer. Today I do not only work in creative agencies for communication in the room but also for cultural institutions. I really work in two different worlds! The mixture of stage and scenography helps me to always have a different view on the current task. Compared to classical architecture, working on scenographic projects is much faster. I like that very much, because you can always deal with new content and exciting topics. And somehow I like being on the road, too. The restlessness inspires me.

Is there something you would do differently today?
Today I would use the international opportunities and network of international students offered by the degree program even more. In addition to the regular curriculum with lectures and practical projects, the programme offers many additional opportunities for further education. For example, there is the Interdisciplinary Space Laboratory, founded by Prof. Albert Lang, which enables lots of opportunities for developing projects that go beyond the regular timetable. When I was a student, I did not realize the value of such offers. Today, I would use such opportunities much more and integrate them more into my studies. But all in all, I am very satisfied. Studying again in a Master’s degree was a great luxury and a tremendous asset.

What tips would you give to someone who wants to succeed in an agency?
The term scenography offers a lot of room for interpretation. To assert oneself in the agency world, it helps to position oneself clearly with his or her own profile: Where are your own strengths? What educational background do I include? As an aspiring scenographer you can engage in a variety of activities, for example in the field of conception, narration in space or as a designer of staged spaces.
The course offers many starting points that have to be reflected and researched first. I can understand when fresh graduates start their professional lives feeling a bit unsettled. In my opinion, it helps to remain persistent and to always believe in one’s own strengths – every dream and every strength finds its place!
It has helped me to realize that my entire professional career with the Master’s degree has finally resulted in a symbiosis. In the end, I realized that somehow everything belongs together and has its justification. I do not want to decide whether I want to work as a scenographer in an agency or as a stage designer at the theater. I can do both, and each helps me with the other’s work. I take this versatility as a great gift and it helps me to take new steps. It sounds a bit dreamy, but nothing is wrong – it only needs the right circumstances and goals – and those you have to develop for yourself. Also, sometimes it helps to not listen to social conventions or lecturers ;-) and to go a completely different way instead.

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© all pictures: Raimund Schucht and Ulf Büschleb for Triad

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