Cairo, New York, St. Nikolaus: Refined Product Design by Nina Mair


A humble nameplate without pretentions, in a pretty-as-a-chocolate-box courtyard in Innsbruck’s district of St. Nikolaus: NINA MAIR, proclaiming that this building is home to a studio that works internationally in architecture and product design with a focus on creating sustainable products and spaces that generate identity for clients around the globe. A bathtub carved from a block of walnut, delicate coffee tables, brass-and-leather stools and silicone soap dishes in pastel colours. The woman behind the brand is Nina Mair, an Austrian designer whose work synthesizes the beauty of raw and natural materials with minimalist, refined design. The Tirol Native is both an architect and designer, based in Innsbruck in the heart of the Austrian Alps. She trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence and at Leopold Franzens University in Innsbruck in architecture. She founded the design studio “Pudelskern” together with two partners in 2006. Since 2012, Nina Mair has been working as a product designer and interior designer in Innsbruck.


Rosanna Battisti’s passion is travel, adventure, and skiing... View author

Furniture that gets More Beautiful When Used

When I visit Nina Mair at her Innsbruck Studio, she is busy making preparations for her appearance at the “Salone del Mobile” in Milano, Italy, the world’s premier furniture fair for contemporary design. At this prestigious event, Nina Mair is going to present her latest designs. The vibrant, exhilarating, loud and colourful city life of Cairo provided inspiration for her latest collection.

Opposites Attract: A diverse, laughing-mad-loud metropolis like Cairo as source of inspiration for products that are manufactured in Tirol and assembled at the headquarters in Innsbruck, in a peaceful inner courtyard towered by jagged mountain ranges. “All of our designs are manufactured right here in Tirol. I really try to work with local producers.”

Nina Mair lives and works in Tirol. She draws inspiration from her journeys to big cities like Cairo and New York.

Nina Mair lives and works in Tirol. She draws inspiration from her journeys to big cities like Cairo and New York.

Nina Mair bases and builds her work on a strong network of local manufacturers. The woodworking for her latest collection comes from a carpentry in East Tirol. The hand crafted, naturally tanned leather of her “Tilda” Stool is produced in an Austrian tannery. “My designs are distinguished by a detailed understanding of material. They are minimal, delicate, neutral and functional. I use materials like leather, which usually gets more beautiful when used.”

The "Tilda" Stool by Nina Mair.

The “Tilda” Stool by Nina Mair.

From Innsbruck to the World

Nina Mair’s vision is to send her products directly from her studio out into the world. The products from her exclusive range are, in the main, manufactured to order. It will take around six to eight weeks until a future owner can take a seat on her Tilda Stool. “Our manufacturers deliver the components, which we assemble at the headquarters in Innsbruck and then we send our products out into the world.”

By the way, talking of sending out into the world: Does travel inspire creativity? “Traveling affords me the opportunity to embrace my creativity in ways I otherwise would not have been able to. I try to transform these impressions into a contemporary design. So to me it is really important to travel a lot, to explore places far away from the mountains.”

Nina Mair’s Studio lies at the heart of Innsbruck, at St. Nikolaus.

Nina Mair’s Studio lies at the heart of Innsbruck, at St. Nikolaus.

The beautiful Alpine surroundings of Tirol are a calming backdrop that can be seen in each of Nina Mair’s products. Innsbruck is her homebase, inspiration is found on travels. “One of the great things about Innsbruck is that almost every corner you turn affords spectacular views of lofty Nordkette Range, the city’s natural skyscrapers. On clear days, this view still leaves me breathless and makes me think, Wow! What a wonderful place to live!”

The capital of Tirol maintains a growing creative attitude. A new interest in creativity and modern architecture is starting to compete for attention with the Renaissance-era buildings and labyrinthine lanes of Old Town. Nevertheless, with a population of just 120,000 residents, the Alpine town remains quite a peaceful place – with all pros and cons associated with it. “I really love to live and work here, but obviously I could not make a living here in Tirol.” That’s why Nina Mair has opened her Webshop last year. “From Innsbruck to the world, I guess you could call it like that.”

“Looking at Something in Its Entirety”

In her studio in Innsbruck, Nina Mair develops prototypes – from ceramic models, functional prototypes in wood and knitting tools, up to weaving and sewing patterns in textiles. Apart from her product design, Nina Mair is also working as an architect and interior designer. What is her favourite scope of work? “Looking at something in its entirety, from the object to a building and vice versa is based on my passion for architecture. Architecture is not a vessel that is filled with items. It is a space to fill with beautiful objects and furniture. A space of possibilities for its internal users. A space they can call home.”

Nina Mair has won many highly acclaimed international awards in the interior design sector. Regarding her work, what else can make her happy?

“I was once in New York and spotted one of my rugs in a shop window. That was exciting and gave me a good feeling. I consider my work successful when it stirs people emotionally. When they just like my products and use them frequently.”

Silicone Soap Dishes.

Silicone Soap Dishes.

Nina Mair’s Shell Bathtub is sculpted from a solid block of walnut. Photo Credits (c) Nina Mair.

Nina Mair’s Shell Bathtub is sculpted from a solid block of walnut. Photo Credits (c) Nina Mair.

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