We at Cognito are saddened to announce the passing of Michael Siemer. Michael was the founder and head of Cognito DACH, which serves clients across the German-speaking region of Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
Michael Siemer was born in 1965 in Stuttgart, Germany. A keen academic, Michael studied Japanese, English Literature and Philosophy. He held degrees from Trier University, Cologne University and Düsseldorf University. His thesis: “Two Aesthetics in cultural contact: Japonism in the works of Lafcadio Hearn and Okakura Tenshin'' was a comparison between American and Japanese “Japonism” at the end of the 19th century, along with the political ramifications of these differences. He received a summa cum laude from the faculty for the publication.
Michael spent two years in Japan in the 1990s, and frequently returned there in the years since. He visited the Nihon Bijutsu Daigaku, a centre for traditional Japanese painting, and did several classes in Japanese Art History.
He founded Westend Medien in 2001 to provide strategic communications services to German and international businesses with enthusiasm, creative ideas and humour. He worked with dozens of brands over the years, providing value and counsel to his clients. Many of his professional relationships stretched across decades, a testament to how valued he was by his colleagues.
He was a member of the Wirtschaftspublizistische Vereinigung, the Business Journalism Association.
Just this year, Cognito took a stake in Westend Medien and the business rebranded as Cognito DACH.
Michael also had a great passion for arts and music. He took a former industrial space in Cologne, and turned it into the underground club Gewölbe. The club is widely known for its techno music which one recent guest described as “by far the best techno/house club in Cologne and definitely one of the best in Germany.”
Michael’s desire for adventure and travel continued throughout his whole life, and he traveled widely. He spent two weeks in the US and Mexico the month he died.
In an interview with Dusseldorf-based thought collective The Passion Victims, he discussed balancing his interests and responsibilities. He said: “To be in a beautiful flow of life, to have the feeling that you can also accept bad days and say: Now this day is like that, it won't get any better – tomorrow it will look completely different again.”
Michael leaves behind his longtime partner, Phillip Thelen, along with his two brothers, Christian and Martin.
A memorial service celebrating his life was held in early April in Dusseldorf and Cologne. Everyone at Cognito expressed our sympathy to the family. We were honoured to have worked and gotten to know Michael personally and professionally. He will be missed.