Ingo Maurer’s Munich

The self-taught “godfather of lighting” has shown pieces at MoMA and Centre Pompidou and is known for a poetic approach that fuses technology with beautiful left-field finds

Image: Enno Kapitza

On Saturday mornings I get up at 6.40am, like every day. I’ll make myself a cup of Earl Grey tea and read the paper – the International Herald Tribune or Die Zeit. Then I’ll go back to bed, where I’ll listen to the radio and call some friends, or my wife if she’s not with me. We don’t live together all the time – we’re very different and it works best for us this way.

Later I’ll drive out to Lake Starnberg, half an hour outside the city. In winter I’ll go ice-skating and in summer I’ll walk round its perimeter. I enjoy being among nature – it allows me to concentrate my thoughts, to let go. I was brought up on an island close to Switzerland and I need the countryside. But living part-time in New York, I realise I need the city too; I like its possibilities. For lunch, I’ll take friends to Zum Fischmeister – an unpretentious restaurant in an 18th-century building with a garden overlooking the water. The location is beautiful and the whitefish caught in the lake is simply cooked but special.

Back home, I’ll take a nap. Lying in bed and thinking is a creative exercise for me. I reflect on what I want to do, if I should accept a job or not. Each commission has to be an adventure – I’d hate to repeat myself.

Later, I might venture out to the cinema – either the local Kino Solln or City Kinos in the centre of town, which shows foreign films. I like French movies and still remember the profound effect of seeing ones like Les Enfants du Paradis after the war. Afterwards I’ll often have a drink at Schumann’s, which serves the best vodka gimlet in the world. Plus they do super meats, all prepared without any fuss. I loathe overly formal places.


If I’m dining with my daughter we’ll go to Osteria Italiana, a classic Italian where I’ll have spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino or the zuppa alla fiorentina, a clear soup with whole tomatoes. My wife and I have a home north of Rome and I love Italian food; I’m not into very refined cooking, but I like my basics to be really good.

I’ll go to bed amazingly early. My work is so intense that I need rest. Before sleep I’ll listen to the radio or read art books on Brancusi or Picasso – I like to understand certain painters, to try to inhale what might have been their thoughts and feelings when they created an artwork.

On Sunday mornings I sleep in. Then I’ll bring tea, honey and bread to bed and listen to an arts and politics programme on Deutschlandfunk, which keeps me up-to‑date with Berlin’s subculture. Munich is very seductive but it doesn’t have the provocation I crave.

Mid-morning I’ll head to my favourite Thai spa, Bua Siam, on Donnersberger-strasse. Its truly relaxing massages always make me feel so much better. Then I’ll visit Ruffini café – good food and so unpretentious – and head to a bookshop like Buchhandlung Werner [pictured], where they specialise in art titles, or Lehmkuhl, where they’ll help me choose books for my grandchildren. Close to Werner is the Camper shop, where I buy my shoes, and the independent boutique Kandis & KandisMann for German-made shirts and jackets. I’m not much of a shopper, though, and have been driving the same Volvo for 17 years.


Lazy Sunday evenings are ideally spent at home with my wife or friends. I’ll make pasta or a salad and open a bottle of Italian wine from Garibaldi deli, run by an old friend. Before bed I like to watch television – usually Arte, the German/French arts channel; I recently watched a wonderful programme on the Avignon Festival that gave me goosebumps. I find by the end of the weekend I usually have the solution to the problem of the week before.