By Francesca Normile
“I just turned 21 on Monday,” said Maximilian Michael Eicke “Which is good, because that sounds less obnoxious than being a 20-year-old business owner.”
Eicke’s business is furniture design, something that is not entirely surprising as his parents, Michael and Elfi Eicke, are art and antique dealers as well as the owners of Madison: Interiors for Collecters (formerly known as Christy’s Art Center) at 3 Madison Street in Sag Harbor.
The younger Eicke launched his debut furniture collection “MMX” on July 17 at his parent’s store. He is a (very young) contemporary furniture designer who grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany as well as London before moving to Sag Harbor in 1999 where he first attended Sag Harbor Elementary School and Pierson Middle School before enrolling at the Ross School.
Eicke notes that it was at The Ross School that his interest and talent in architecture and design truly began to flourish.
“Ross School allows for independent projects in the area you’re studying,” says Eicke. “So, when we studied Japan, I studied the architecture. My senior year, I worked for a few months on a Bauhaus-inspired table. That was when I was 17, and it was sort of like my first step.”
Since creating that first piece, Eicke has designed and built an entire furniture collection and founded his own small business — Max International Design New York (Max ID NY). After starting out by building “doll-house-sized” models of his furniture, Eicke progressed to building full size versions of his designs by hand. Now, all 35 pieces displayed on his website are built by Eicke personally.
“I chose seven of those to send out and have manufactured for sale,” he explains “And I chose about 15 pieces to put in the show.”
The show is called “MMX,” a roman numeral representation of the year the collection was launched, a choice meant to highlight the “minimalism of the design philosophy of Max ID NY,” according to Eicke’s website. And the work certainly is minimalist, and modern, playing with shape and color in an innovative, fresh way.
From light fixtures to tables to chairs to stools, the pieces display an abundance of ideas and perspectives that, as he says, “draw on the past century of design movements” while integrating Eicke’s own, trendy twist.
Concerning his overall aesthetic in the collection, Eicke remarks, “I tried staying very true to the nature of my design, by designing ‘minimalistic’ objects that can make the most out of the bare essentials. By using simple, geometrical shapes and forms in the design of my pieces, they are meant to be aesthetically pleasing as well as keep the client actively amused by the pieces multifunctional twists.”
The collection is indeed very based in a simple geometric assemblage, an example being a table currently on display in his show at 3 Madison Street. The construction involves only three pieces: a brown, wooden, rectangular table-top, a large, white marble, hollow cylinder beneath the table-top placed on one end to support its weight, and a matching marble triangle that functions to sleekly fix the cylinder in place. The cylinder breaks through the rectangle’s surface by a few inches, creating a seamless effect that is, as Eicke notes, simultaneously minimalist and modern as well as functional.
When asked who his influences are and whom he would most like to collaborate with, Eicke cites Tom Dickson and Max Lamb, two deceased, British designers who were each at the cutting edge of their time.
He then adds with a laugh, “But I don’t think I’ll be collaborating with either of them anytime soon.”
Eicke says he is open to all sorts of collaboration, though he warned that he certainly has a vision of his own. Without the possibility of working with his two design heroes, Eicke still shows promise of following in their footsteps in creating thought-provoking and aesthetically fresh furniture that is more fine art than La-Z-Boy.
There surely is an advantage to having such a defined vision at such a young age, and Eicke hopes for a long future of design ahead. And it is not only in business that he has found himself excelling at a faster pace than most. Eicke earned his undergraduate degree in interior design in two years while on an accelerated track at Griffith College in Dublin, Ireland.
He also received the Best Academic Achievement Award in his 2009 graduating class (a fact that is a great source of pride for his mother). Eicke has had an impressive number of internships and apprenticeships, including locally in Bridgehampton with Stelle Architects and Sag Harbor with Andy Toro as well as in Germany and Los Angeles. And now that Eicke is his own boss, using the knowledge he gleaned from school and work, he is striving to become the next big name in furniture design. So what’s up in his immediate future?
“After the opening, I’m going back into production,” he says. “I plan on having a new line out next spring. I’d like to start showing my work to a bigger audience and right now I am trying to spread my design by word of mouth out here. The Hamptons are good for that because they are so international.”
He also mentions that his sister is in public relations and the two plan to work on building a small familial dream team. But however much Eicke has accomplished and however far he aims in the future, he refrains from taking himself too seriously. When asked if there’s anything else he would like to add about his work and his dreams, he says, “Well, the opening is on Saturday… I want to be famous… I’m happy living in Sag Harbor and… I hope the weather improves?”
Max Eicke’s “MMX” is on view at Madison: Interiors for Collectors at 3 Madison Street in Sag Harbor until July 31. Eicke’s website is www.maxidny.com.