Burkhard Schmitz, Claudia Plikat, and Carola Zwick began their partnership in 1992. They were looking for the freedom to work on projects that interested them, and for the freedom to do so without bosses or titles.
This is the way they’ve operated ever since. “Everybody does everything,” says Burkhard, speaking for the group that now includes Carola’s brother Roland Zwick. “That’s how we cultivate ideas and maintain our openness and curiosity.”
The group’s name—Studio 7.5—comes from an early idea to rent a 7.5-ton truck, put a model shop in it, and drive from one project site to another. Obviously, freedom of movement is important for these designers. They move freely—and smartly—when designing products for their clients.
The complexity of design problems, Studio 7.5 believes, requires collaboration, and repeated testing of ideas in full-scale models until the most elegant answer emerges.
“You really have to work in three dimensions when designing products,” notes Claudia. “Computer drawings just don’t give you the feel, the touch, the smell.”
They love designing furniture, or as they prefer to call it “equipment,” as in the tools modern workers need for the work they do. They find designing office chairs in particular to be most rewarding, having worked with Herman Miller on the Setu Chair, the award-winning Mirra chair, and its successor, Mirra 2.
Studio 7.5’s penchant for using common materials in new and often innovative ways is evident in these chairs and another of their new designs—Metaform Portfolio. Metaform is a concise set of foundational blocks and add-on people can arrange and rearrange as the needs of individuals and work teams evolve. In all cases, polypropylene is a recurring material; what is unique are the ways Studio 7.5 designs and engineers it to do amazing things.
Studio 7.5 says of their designs, “Both Metaform Portfolio and Mirra 2 empower people by giving them more control over their environment and tools. Our goal is to enable people to assume roles similar to that of a craftsman in his shop, surrounded by what he needs to be most productive.”