Hanging Out With Max,
The German Designer and Carpenter who lives in two 40" containers.
Max grew up in Germany, after school he became a carpenter, started to create his own designs and implement all them by himself. After 4 years working as a 3D Designer in Munich he founded mlab.design, which he runs until today. Max was travelling through Portugal in his Van and spending a couple of weeks at the coastline every year, so he learned to surf and fell in love with the sport. Soon he had the idea of designing his own home in shipping containers, send them to Portugal and start a new life closer to the sea. Now he lives a free lifestyle, enjoying his time connected to nature, in a sustainable and contemporary design cabin, improving his surf, and working on creative projects.
This is Max, get to know him.
Can you tell us your story so far?
I grew up next to Munich in Bavaria / Germany. At the age of 20 - after my years in school - I started working as a manager in the 8seasons Club in Munich. As I was in charge of the Interior Design back then I started to get interested more and more in aesthetics related to objects, to furniture and materials. After these 2 years working as a supervisor by night and a manager by day I decided to start into crafts and become a carpenter so I could create my own designs and implement them by myself. I finished my 3 year degree as a carpenter and started working in a design agency called FA.ME in Munich. My boss gave me the opportunity to improve my skills in 3D drawing and after a short period of time I designed full interior conceptions for business and private clients.
Together with the owner of FA.ME I started the mlab.design project that was about the STITCH shelf, a very clean an simple shelf system - which I am selling until today. 2 years later I quit my job as a designer in the agency but kept running mlab.design by myself. I needed to change something in my life as I was not happy in Germany anymore.
I fell in love with Surfing couple of years before and had the idea of designing my own home in shipping containers, send them to Portugal and start my new life together with my girlfriend and daughter close to the sea.
Why Pt? Because I was travelling Portugal in my Van for more than 12 years and every time I was spending a couple of weeks at the coastline, first Zambujeira do mar, later I went South where I started to surf. The amazing nature, the Portuguese lifestyle and surfing, it was a dream for me to come there. So at the end I got things done and moved close to Budens / Vila do Bispo, where I enjoy my time, improve surfing day by day and working on my creative projects.
Next steps for you?
First I need to learn Portuguese because I want to respect and understand this awesome country. In terms of mlab.design, I just finished the design of the #FL2 Cabin House, which is based on my container house. The #FL2 is a sustainable, flexible and modular cabin made for a full time habitation, which gives the possibility to have a lifestyle like mine, to be more free, to live closer to nature in high quality and contemporary design. Together with my partners I'll bring the #FL2 to market in a couple of weeks.
Best spot in Portugal for you?
In my van, close to the sea. I open the roof top and enjoy the clear sky by night, studded by stars. Amazing experience, every time!
What does style means to you?
For me style is the mirror of your inside - it has to be authentic, if it is authentic it's beautiful. Style is nothing you can copy & paste. If everybody was aware of his or her authentic style, the world would be a way more colourful and diverse place.
What are the biggest challenges for you while working on sustainable projects?
There are a lot of challenges... We are pioneers and started to bring sustainability to products as the #FL2 Cabin House which is new in so many ways. Not only bringing actual sustainability to contemporary design but also the conception of small spaces itself, it's an all new thing. The biggest challenge is to keep the focus on the important steps, not to loose the track, get things done, get forward but keep our sustainable approaches. There is a huge risk to practice green washing. We want to create the best design, to work with the best materials and suppliers, to be fast and successful and generate a true added value for our clients and the environment as well. So it's a big challenge at all and that's why it is amazing to work on this.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find my inspiration in PT - for sure. I think there's nothing better than to sit outside in front of my containers or at the coast in my van, watch stars by night and think. There's so much inspiration just in this. I don't do a lot of research in the web (except for some Newsletters) because I think I would start to copy things, so I always try to be on myself thinking a lot about my projects and find the best solution for our daily challenges. So for me nature and night is the best inspiration. Portugal definitely boosts creativity!
What’s the Band / Music Style / Spotify Playlist that inspires you?
I am into electronic music, maybe it's because I think - as a German - there are very few things you can be proud of but one of these is our electronic music scene. Over the last months I went also into eastern European Minimal Techno (e.g. Microlab) - There's a playlist on Spotify called "Klick Klack" that is mine (laughs). Furthermore I discovered Psychedelic Rock for myself, so every time I am going to the West Coast I will listen to Desert Raven by Jonathan Wilson.
Any guilty pleasure worth mentioning?
A guilty pleasure! Ahhh, Laughs, so many... so many. Enjoy a J by night in my bed :)
Photographed with analogue camera by Ana Penha e Costa.