Furniture designer Maximilian Eicke grew up being schlepped around the world to galleries and and antiques shops by his art dealer father. All that input served to make him feel at home anywhere in the world and yet, in a quasi-rebellious sort of way, instilled in him the desire to create something original. His childhood was both blessed by love and privilege and cursed by bullying and attempts to invalidate his creativity—a recipe for gratitude, perspective, and turbo drive to disprove the naysayers. Listen:
What is your earliest memory?
It's of my paternal grandfather holding my hand while I'm climbing onto the back of a bronze statue of a bull while I was growing up in Dusseldorf, Germany—maybe I only remember this moment because I have a photo of it. He passed away shortly afterwards so I never got to know him, but he's always lived on in my thoughts. He was an engineer and material scientist so my dad always credits him for my creative genes.
How do you feel about democratic design?
I feel to create a competitive and innovative marketplace the design world needs both democratic design and it's counterpart in order to push one another's boundaries and capabilities.
What’s the best advice that you’ve ever gotten?
I struggle with this because there has never been a single piece of advice that has guided me in the right direction, mainly because I have received a great deal of contradicting advice. I have always been forced to cherry pick bits and pieces of various forms of advice to get where I am today. Each of us are very different and our expectations for our career and life are different and how we intend to get there varies greatly as well.
How do you record your ideas?
I have four moleskins in circulation at the moment - one in my car, my backpack, my house, and one that is constantly getting lost and found. So sometimes it can take weeks from the initial sketch until I further develop the idea, as I don't think I ever work with the same book two days in a row. But I find this is a natural way for me to step away from a concept before working on it down the line.
What’s your current favorite tool or material to work with?
I have recently become enamored with ceramics due to a new home goods collection I am working on with this amazing brand, Gaya, based out of Bali. Alongside their factory they run a ceramic academy where I started taking private lessons to get a much better understanding of how the material can be manipulated. I also get to witness the extreme talent required to create what in theory look like simple designs.
What book is on your nightstand?
I think coffee table books are underrated—they have the potential to shape us greatly. They are the kind of book that we will return to years down the line, which can be absorbed consciously and subconsciously, even if they are only read passively. So I have countless coffee table books around—one new one I really like is The Authentics: A Lush Dive into the Substance of Style by Dara Caponigro and Melanie Acevedo.
Why is authenticity in design important?
Authenticity can be achieved by having a consistent design language that is identifiable in all your work, which allows it to be immediately recognized. It also offers a sense of pride, as you are putting your entire self into this design language, and showing it to the world.
Favorite restaurant in your city?
I'm living in Bali at the moment and having a tough time choosing between two as I can usually be found in one or the other. They’re the The Slow in Canggu, and Tygr Sushi in Canggu - both these places have basically replaced the need for my living room and dining table in my house.
What might we find on your desk right now?
What desk? Until my project is done here in Bali I am using every surface imaginable in my rental place as a work surface. Space has become such an issue that the trunk of my car has become my office on wheels at times—it has my printer in it so I can work in the most random locations. It's surprisingly tough to find power outlets in rice fields, though.
At the moment there are a lot of 3D prints of a new cutlery set flying about, prototypes of ceramic pieces with testing glaze combinations, and random architectural light fittings for my house project laying around.
Who do you look up to and why?
The people I look up to the most are those closest to me, not just guiding me personally or financially, but also understanding and respecting me despite my quirks and stubbornness; they have helped me turn these traits into positives for my business and life. One person I look up to is my mentor Chris, who is also one of my main manufacturers in Indonesia. I have worked closely with him from the first day I started my company, and I've often sought his advice due to the success he has had and the respect he's always showed me. I can confidently say I wouldn't be where I am without his support. Additionally, I’ve been admiring galleries like Friedman Benda and Carpenters Workshop for the way they are supporting their stable of designers by not just selling their work, but by building a fabrication network for them to really push their boundaries in their respective fields.
What’s your favorite project that you’ve done and why?
I want to mention dozens of projects and designs, each of which pushed my own boundaries or excited me in a particular way. That said if I had to pick one on the spot it would definitely be my “Panther” carbon fiber flat pack dining table (pictured above). I produced it in 2012 in collaboration with an amazing manufacturer in Germany who I met by pure chance. They challenged me to expand the limits of their factory and the material—carbon fiber is such a unique material, and the factory setup was one I'd never dreamed I’d be fortunate enough to work with Additionally, I launched this table in New York City, the first time I'd exhibited there, and it was also the first time one of my designs garnered international recognition.
What are the last five songs you listened to?
Helpful to have a recent played list:
Red Eyes - The War On Drugs
Orange Sky - Alexi Murdoch
Heart-Shaped Box - Nirvana
Never Tear Us Apart - INXS
Fade into you - Mazzy Star