This month we meet Thomas Maitz, designer at Perludi – the Austrian brand that creates clever low toxic furniture for kids. Nippy rocking horses with a cosy textile finish and environmentally friendly handcrafted desks that adjust in height as your child grows up are just some of the innovative designs on offer.
What made you decide to get involved in children’s furniture design?
I have been working as an interior designer on “adults projects” and started focusing on kids design when my first son was born.
What are some of the key challenges you face when designing for kids?
Kids love to experiment while playing and that is very important for their personal development. The challenge is to provide lots of functionality, while details and quality must meet the highest of standards. My personal goal is to communicate with kids not by making things more childish but to provide them with interesting, well-made products. Kids prefer products which their parents can engage with as well.
Where does your inspiration come from and what or who influences your work?
My work is inspired by almost everything around me… I love my life with my family, the kids, the work, the house with nature surrounding it, and I especially love music. It’s difficult to explain, but I think most of the influence comes from music. For me the process of designing is similar to making music … a mix of creative work, knowledge, training, freestyle and composing.
Do you feel that you have to nurture your own childish side in order to relate to children so you can therefore translate this into your designs? If so, how do you go about ‘thinking young’?
“How old are you?” It’s a fact, that we all have been kids. But the answer is ‘no’. I think the key to good relations between kids and grown ups is to understand that the universe for kids is not separated from adults. It’s one single universe. We have to speak the same language if we want to interact with each other. Therefore if ‘Design’ is a language it must be the same language for kids; and from that, we can easily teach them to also respect society and the environment in relation to design too.
What is your studio like?
We have a studio with an enclosed showroom in a very old town house in Graz. In the yard there is a big garage, which we use to house extra stock and for workshops. The district is central and lovely. There are between four and six of us in the office. I am proud that we do not need prescribed working hours yet; we just inform each other of our comings and goings and everybody seems to be motivated well. A good kitchen in the studio is a must for me, so we cook our own lunch and have coffee breaks and discussions there.
Are there any designers you admire?
There are lots of fantastic designers around and I admire all of them.
What is your favourite piece of design?
Oh that changes weekly! But at the moment, number one for me last week was the bicycle “VIKS” from velonia.
What are you working on right now?
Too many things! We always work on some new products and services simultaneously. The next product will be accessories for the CASPAR desk and simple modular shelves.
Any new materials that you would love to work with in new designs?
We already did some research into new sustainable materials, but it’s a longer-term project. I still prefer to work with wood; it’s excellent.
What do you feel is the best part of your job?
The best part is to work with others on something which makes people happy. I love to communicate and to travel and meet other people.
What is next for Perludi?
Perludi should stay authentic and improve on all fields continuously. We want to become the world´s best kids design company.