‘I can’t wait,’ says Max Frommeld, who has just embarked on the Royal College of Art’s Design Products course. The prospect of two years to work on his own projects and develop his ideas about design clearly excites the German designer, who spent the past year at German furniture company Nils Holger Moormann.
The Moormann tenure was fruitful. The company is known for nurturing fresh thinkers of the furniture world, such as Konstantin Grcic, and with responsibility for product development and liaising with external designers, Frommeld learnt about ‘making sellable products out of prototypes’. But it’s time to again ‘live my own dreams and work on my own projects to my own briefs’, he says.
Frommeld grew up with equal measures of design nature and nurture. With a science teacher father and a strong influence from artist family friends, he was interested in the logic of physics and maths as well as creative disciplines. The fact that he hails from Ulm and discovered a strong affinity with the Ulm School of Design’s Max Bill also helped him along the design path.
Moving into object and furniture design was a logical progression, he says. ‘Physics and maths have a lot do with reality, life and making sense of the world. Paired with art, it equals design.’
Product design is also about designing for people, reaching and influencing them in one way or another, says Frommeld. His Laundry System, designed for Mdantsane township in South Africa, offers an efficient alternative to hand-washing clothes. It was one of the winning projects of the Audi Design Foundation’s 2007 Designs of Substance competition and is still his most satisfying project. ‘I could see first-hand reactions to what I created and that was very rewarding. It’s always good if you create something that helps the people who use it. The first point is helping people and making life easier – otherwise you’re just designing landfill.’
Pushing products beyond what has been done before is another key driver for Frommeld. ‘Design has got to evolve,’ he says. ‘I try to make things a bit different.’ His Adapt is a versatile flat-pack shelving system consisting of a rigid metal structure, loose timber slats, bookends and optional hooks. Show Case, a stool based on the principle of ‘rigidness through tension’, which is now being produced by Moormann, is inspired by a traditional wooden bow saw. Users can customise it by using their own objects within the structure – a personalised product on a mass-produced scale, something Frommeld is keen to take further. ‘Everyone strives for individuality and personalisation, which is difficult to realise when mass-produced objects are ever-present,’ he says.
Despite his background in science and art and his passion for pushing the development of products, Frommeld is not considering industrial design. He says, ‘I’m the sort of guy who loves being in the workshop, that’s why I prefer making furniture. But maybe one day I’ll design a very industrial object, as my main goal is to be as versatile as possible. It’s just not the time for it yet.’
2008 BA Product and Furniture Design Ravensbourne College of Art and Design
2008-2009 Designer Nils Holger Moormann
2009 to present MA Design Products Royal College of Art
‘Apart from being an exceptionally intelligent designer, Max Frommeld also had a quiet and calming influence through his projects. He drew inspiration from science, poetry and simplicity, resulting in incredibly logical solutions to problems.
After winning the Audi Designs of Substance award in 2007 as a second-year student, Max pursued his final year with grace and a quiet confidence in his work.
He went on to win the New Designer of the Year 2008 prize and has since started postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Art.’
Michelle Douglas Subject/course leader BA Product Design BA Design for Interaction Ravensbourne College of Art and Design