Management consultant Roland Berger and Prince Luitpold of Bavaria having a royally good time (photo: Robert Brembeck)
Bier is my core business. We now produce under license in 15 different countries.Prinz Luitpold
Prince Luitpold, the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory makes you something of a representative of the old economy ...
Roland Berger: The very old economy.
Prinz Luitpold: Indeed. We still produce our porcelain the same way as in 1747, the year the manufactory was founded.
These days, who wants to buy a porcelain plate that takes 250 hours to make and costs 2,000 euros or more?
Prinz Luitpold: Well, first of all, beer is actually my core business. We now produce under license in 15 different countries, including Indonesia and Mongolia. But to answer your question: We have 70 employees in Nymphenburg, including craftsmen who had to undergo ten years of training to really learn their art. This is why a few months ago, UNESCO awarded our porcelain painting operations Intangible Cultural Heritage status. We’re not mass-producers and fortunately there are people who seem to appreciate that fact. When people begin to gather wealth, they start spending money on clothes, watches, and jewelry. Then comes the car. And then the second car. Then they buy a house. And then they invite guests for meals served on cheap plates from the department store. Which is a bit embarrassing, isn’t it? By the way, we’re not talking here about the kind of floral crockery our great-grandparents used. We also manufacture extremely contemporary designs, such as the Light Scape flatware by Ruth Gurvich. And we produce limited-series artworks, such as the recent collection with Damien Hirst. It sold like hotcakes.
Have you bought any pieces, Mr. Berger?
Roland Berger: We’ve had Nymphenburg porcelain at home for years now...
Prinz Luitpold: … But you definitely need more.
Roland Berger: … For sure, but as an art collector, I prefer to buy a Damien Hirst to hang on the wall.
Let’s talk about Bavaria. Chancellor Angela Merkel once said in Munich: “I always like to come to Bavaria because by six o’clock in the evening you’ve been sitting comfortably with a beer for some time yet you still manage to be the state with the best economic performance. I don’t know how you do it.” Do you have an answer, gentlemen?
Roland Berger: I think Chancellor Merkel has been taken in by Bavaria’s tourist adverts. The reality is completely different. Agriculture, which still accounted for 25 percent of our gross domestic product in 1950, now accounts for just over one percent. It is our industrial policy that has made us successful. Systematic investment in research, development, and education. In Munich, for example, we now have a biotech industry sector which, together with the one in Mannheim, is one of the biggest around. I don’t believe these people are all off drinking beer at six o’ clock.
When I was a child, the Gestapo would come to our house every six weeks.Roland Berger
That’s certainly the case here in Bavaria, because people have a strong sense of connection with the region and feel a real sense of wellbeing. Our great good fortune is that we grew up after the Second World War.
Prinz Luitpold: That’s certainly the case here in Bavaria, because people have a strong sense of connection with the region and feel a real sense of wellbeing. Our great good fortune is that we grew up after the Second World War.
Roland Berger: Yes, we’ve now had over 70 years of peace and freedom. I’m very grateful for that, especially as I can still remember when things were very different. When I was a child, the Gestapo would come to our house every six weeks. My father was arrested several times. You never forget something like that, your parents being scared. This is also one of the reasons why my foundation awards a prize for human dignity every year. It goes to people who work for freedom, tolerance, and human rights around the world.