Mike Simonian, co-founder of Mike & Maaike, a progressive industrial design studio in San Francisco, California, takes a laboratory approach to designing products, technology, furniture, environments, packaging, and transportation. While the Mike & Maaike portfolio is vast and varied, Simonian notes that there is a consistent theme that runs from one design to the next: New opportunities.
“We try to create new opportunities through design for everyone involved,” he says. “Design is about possibilities. For the user, it’s a new experience, feeling, ability, or point of view. For the producer, there are new opportunities to connect with people, to express an idea, to evolve a category. For us, it’s new territory, inspirations, connections, relationships, and knowledge.”
The work of Mike & Maaike is always fresh, driven by the diverse range of clients, industries, materials and approaches they work with. This is clearly exemplified by their collaborations with organizations, such as Google, Belkin, Xbox, Incase, DuPont, and the City of San Francisco. “We love diversity,” Simonian says. “We try to do projects in as many different areas as we can—disparate projects influence and inspire each other.”
In the midst of so much variety, every project begins essentially the same way: with a conceptual foundation. It could be a question to explore, a point of view, or a hypothesis.
Erasing lines between various forms of art and design is an intentional, philosophical approach that informs Mike & Maaike as they create new products.
“All facets of design need to be connected, like art, fashion, graphic, auto, and furniture,” Simonian says. “And, all of these areas should be connected with technology, politics, philosophy, and writing, too. Design needs this rich soup to have meaning and relevance.”