Paul Helmeth and his start-up KIRIMANUFAKTUR produce amazingly versatile room dividers made of kiri. We take a closer look and introduce the entrepreneur: how he got the idea for his Kiribricks, what he is currently working on and what he likes about his favourite wood.
Room divider made of kiri: light, sustainable, modular
In the beginning there was the sauna. Paul Helmeth, a Lufthansa captain with a soft spot for furniture making, had planned it for his garden. It was to be made of kiri wood and be mobile – and he wanted to make it himself.
When aircraft were grounded during the pandemic, the man from Munich finally had the time. First he built models for the walls and put them in the living room. While there, they inspired Helmeth and his family to come up with all kinds of ideas. Why not use the wooden walls as room dividers? As sound barriers when working at home, and as a feature behind which you can retreat to read and study?
The ideas had potential! So rather than continuing work on the sauna, Paul Helmeth set about optimising the walls. He developed modules, called them Kiribricks and founded KIRIMANUFAKTUR in February 2021.
His product is as simple as it is impressive. The standard brick made of kiri wood measures 60 by 30 centimetres, is just under 9 centimetres thick and weighs 3.4 kilos. Bricks are available that are untreated, lacquered and oiled, bricks with grooved surfaces that disperse sound, and bricks with integrated electrical sockets. There are also corner, T and end modules. The individual parts are held together with plug-in elements made of FSC-certified birch multiplex.
In practice, the wooden walls have demonstrated themselves to be elegant and versatile alternatives to partitions, screening off dirty dishes in an open kitchen as well as the workplace after work. And when your living situation changes, the lightweight module walls can be erected, converted and dismantled in no time at all.
Flexible walls for exhibition stands, office cubicles, hotels, pop-up stores
“Spaces can then always be modified to suit the needs of the residents”, says Helmeth. The bricks are not only suitable for private use, but also for businesses. The wooden building blocks can be used to assemble flexible office cubicles and trade fair stands, hotels can separate meeting areas in lobbies, and kiri room dividers can be used by shop fitters to create pop-up shops.
The bricks are also sustainable. The wood that the start-up gets from us originates from European plantations, and when the bricks have had their day, they can be shredded and composted. They are also made from heartwood, which is normally only processed into pellets because of the pith. As a kiri brick, this part of the tree also sequesters carbon over the long term.
The kiri wood for the room dividers is very easy to work with
Helmeth has a passion for wood and has been sawing and sanding since childhood. Most of the furniture in his house is made of wood, and he is particularly fond of kiri. “It offers many advantages, for example, because its non-splintering and easy to work with”, he says. “Other wood can rip tools out of your hand. Working with kiri is easy and straightforward”. It is also highly suited to interior fittings due to its low emissions.
His goal, however, is for the production of his bricks to take place by itself. In parallel to his job as a pilot, he is therefore working on significantly increasing the degree of production automation. The newly gained time can then be used to develop innovative product accessories. We wish him every success!