GECKELER MICHELS, Berlin based design studio founded by David Geckeler and Frank Michels.

Hello David and Frank, how are you?

D — Thanks, we’re doing good … we’re just back from Milan. As always it was intense days and lots to see – every year surprising how fruitful some presentations turn out to be, but also how messy, trivial and repetitive the industries’ landscape can seem.

Can you introduce yourselves?

D&F — We are GECKELER MICHELS, a Berlin based design duo constituted by David Geckeler originally from Constance, Germany, and Frank Michels from Luxembourg. Both born in 1984, we came to Berlin with a hands-on mentality in the early noughties… Today, we’re happy to work on designs in the fields of furniture, tableware, lighting and accessories for international companies.

Where does your interest in design come from?

D — I was raised as an architect’s son surrounded by the furniture design classics such as Marcel Breuer’s cantilever chairs, Artemide lamps etc., so, many discussions and dialogues within my family, but also my first experiences creating stuff naturally brought me to my profession.

F — In 2003 my father brought me a pink pocket book from Philippe Starck’s retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris … the book was very poor in images, but somehow I read through the whole text – a myriad of stories about his experiences from his making-of and lively anecdotes with his manufacturers. I think that book came to me in the right moment.

How did you come to start up the studio?

D&F — Well, we met during our design studies and soon became friends. Later we shared a flat together during a couple of years before we left for exchange studies and work experiences abroad. In 2013 we decided to start-up our own studio here in Berlin – we believe in the strength of a partnership especially in the field we’re working in … setting up our studio in an adequately sized space along with a proper tool and office infrastructure since from the beginning was very important for us. In 2014 we had the great opportunity to show our current ‘style matrix’ – as we call it – to the public at the Salone Satellite with a collection of five different object creations.

What are the key features of your design?

D&F — It’s way too early to answer this question with a definitive statement. We’re still trying out to find out the core genes of a persistent ‘leitmotif’ in our work, meanwhile, one can observe a style of neo-modernist minimalism and preciseness in details, that recently prevailed in our sculpture-driven work. For the balance of a broader image, we occasionally allow the archaic idea of warmth and comfort by using round and pleasing forms as well as casually working with subliminal statements from youth culture … yet, balance is an important word for us, because we daily fight for not losing track of adequacy and accuracy.

Can you tell us more about the TOUCH cup collection?

D&F — The TOUCH cup collection for Nespresso was a great opportunity for us to work on a mass produced product for a broad global target group, while keeping an eye on doing something ‘fresh’. We chose a new, more differentiated use of materials – the use of a matte bisque pigmented porcelain in combination with its glazed counterpart, divided by a smooth silicon element is a main innovation for the cups. The biggest challenge though, was to move the typology of ‘silicon-ring-cups’ away from its gadget-like niche into a more classy environment. Therefore we gave to the silicon ring the innovative role of a form-giving element, instead of just using it as a surrounding ribbon like most other cups in that typology tempt to do. Many relevant parameters were fused into this black, compact, new, but self-evident object.

What’s the idea behind the NERD chair?

D&F — NERD chair for Muuto is the ideal solution for an all-wood construction by using just one single conceptual twist as its main idea. The innovative integration of the very similar shaped back and seat-shell turned out to create a new personality of a chair. While the appearance of NERD is unique, the overall expression, material and craftsmanship all have references to classic Scandinavian design values. Meanwhile, we have the feeling NERD is able to become a timeless classic item.

A designer that you admire?

D&F — We really appreciate the recent work from Tobias, Cesare & Manuel who are forming FROM design studio. These guys with Lausanne-ECAL provenance are simply talented and have the cool and well-thought alpine style in their veins …

Which books are on your bedside table?

F — BLUESCREEN, Essays by Mark Greif. I just discovered his work, don’t really know yet what to think about him … some sharp observations on society and new media, definitely more casual and less lyrical language than Roland Barthes’ for example.

D — The look-book of W124 CE Mercedes-Benz from 1993.

The last word…

D&F — Merci!



Interview : Dennis Moya & Tiffany Bähler  05.15

Images ©Geckeler Michels, product photography by Haw-Lin, portrait by Amos Fricke. ©Muuto, product photography Nerd chair.