If one considers architecture and design as the body—shape, face and exterior beauty—of a fine Hamptons home, then the furnishings within would be its beating heart and soul. These chairs, tables and shelves represent a homeowner’s style, personality and way of living. Furniture sets one home or room apart from another and gives each residence an engaging voice, be it quiet and subtle, archaic and full of stories about the past, or loud and demanding attention.
Even before starting his company, Max ID NY, at the young age of 19 in 2009, Sag Harbor furniture designer Maximilian Eicke’s creations reflected a powerful individual voice. His geometric and angular seating, tables and storage items display a consistent modernist vision across multiple collections, each containing about 15 different designs. He’s accomplished more before the age of 30 than many could in a lifetime, and Eicke’s career is really just beginning.
“I am an extremely hard worker, if I work with what my passion is…I built 20 prototypes myself before I even started my company,” Eicke says, explaining that his laser focus on building Max ID NY led him to abandon less important endeavors. It’s caused some to underestimate him, starting with teachers at the Ross School where he created his first full-size piece of furniture—a stainless steel and glass table—for his senior project. But, Eicke says, he had such strong support from Chris Engel, his project mentor, that he later named his popular De Stijl-inspired chair design, “Mr. Chris,” for him. “It’s probably one of my most successful designs,” Eicke adds.
Just as fans of Eicke’s furniture are loyal to him, he is loyal to his supporters, especially those who helped build Max ID NY into the internationally recognized company he now leads. Getting here, however, was not easy.
Eicke fully embraced his obsession after graduating from Ross. He spent two years studying furniture design at Griffith College in Dublin, Ireland, and then went on to his birth country, Germany, for an internship with Polenz, where he learned to work with metal, fabricating designs for high-end clients such as Hermès and Louis Vuitton. Because he did so well, and spoke fluent English and German, the company brought him along to a meeting with Apple executives at the computer giant’s Cupertino, CA headquarters. And when the internship ended, Polenz sent Eicke home with his first Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welder. From there, he set out to find an American company to manufacture his designs.
“I got treated like an unknown, 18-year-old kid who didn’t know what he was doing,” Eicke says, admitting they were right. “I had experience with how the retail side went,” he continues, noting that he learned to sell at his parents’ shop, Christy’s Antique Center in Sag Harbor, but “When it came to manufacturing, I was a novice.”
No one took him seriously in the U.S., and Europe was too expensive, so Eicke left the country and went backpacking. Eventually he found manufacturers in Indonesia who were the opposite of what he experienced at home. “They were very supportive,” Eicke says, describing the beginning of a fruitful relationship that remains strong. “It was a very fun, interactive experience.”
He now spends several months of the year in Indonesia working on his collections in person with manufacturers and engineers before heading back home to Sag Harbor and his studio in Bridgehampton for the summer.
Eicke’s design style has evolved from collection to collection, but his aesthetic is identifiable throughout. “I love curves, but I don’t know how to implement them in my own designs,” he admits, noting his signature hard angles and geometric shapes were born from an inability to draw. Instead, Eicke had to communicate his vision through small, three-dimensional prototypes made of cut wood and steel. “I learned to work with a specific set of materials,” he says, though the process was still quite playful. “I couldn’t convey my ideas otherwise.”
In recent years, the designer learned to use three-dimensional computer programs such as AutoCAD and SketchUp. “I’ve become very good at 3-D rendering,” Eicke says. “I don’t think in two dimensions—the program feels like an extension of the way I think.”
With nearly a decade in the business behind him, Eicke says Max ID NY is moving vigorously ahead. His collections include five design patents and a utility patent, he’s working on licensing his designs to other companies, and local Hamptons homeowners and decorators are still hot for what Eicke is selling.
The young designer says he enjoys connecting with clients who understand and appreciate his work, and he continues meeting personally with them in their homes and businesses. “You really see every way they interact with the piece,” Eicke says. “It validates what you’ve done…it’s an amazing and very fortunate experience to have that with the person who’s going to end up living with the piece.”
Eicke just launched his newest Max ID NY collection at his Bridgehampton studio (1 Tradesman Path) on Friday, July 21. Learn more at maxidny.net.