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Philipp Mainzer: Clearly Thinking

Architecture and furniture are intertwined in Philipp Mainzer’s eyes. We caught up with him before he launched e15’s newest products at P5 last week.

Philipp Mainzer: Clearly Thinking


November 15th, 2012

e15’s Bigfoot table of 1994 was an apt setting for a chat with its designer Philipp Mainzer. The solid wood table stands stoically in Singapore’s P5 retail showroom, stretching over 2m in length and proudly bearing its characteristic seasoned cracks and grain patterns. Along with the iconic Backenzahn stool (1996, also designed by Mainzer), it has become something of a design classic. And its endurance is bolstered by the possibility of customisation to even greater lengths.

Philipp Mainzer

Bigfoot table with Houdini chair (the latter designed by Stefan Diez)

Architecture-trained Mainzer is the Managing Director of e15 (which he co-founded), and now, he holds the same title at the newly established PHILIPP MAINZER OFFICE FOR ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN. He runs both entities from the same space.

Philipp Mainzer

Backenzahn stool

“When we established e15 in 1995,” he says, “it was the end of a period of extreme minimalism. Interiors were very cold; there were a lot of minimal spaces with products in lacquered or aluminium finishes, or glass. For this table,” he says, running his hand over its textured surface, “we had a minimal shape but a very traditional, rustic material. People were desperate for some warmth. This was our breakthrough.”

Bigfoot’s popularity endures nearly two decades later. “People are still extremely attracted to good quality and natural materials,” says Mainzer. “Solid wood is our main theme,” he adds, also mentioning his interest in a lasting, timeless design aesthetic.

Philipp Mainzer

Karnak side chair and Aswan stool from the Ferdinand Kramer Collection

Philipp Mainzer

Charlotte coffee table from the Ferdinand Kramer Collection

The latter certainly shies through in e15’s new Ferdinand Kramer collection of re-editions. A strong sense of craftsmanship also resonates from the range of handmade seating products by collaborating designer Stefan Diez, which are put together without any metal fixings.

Philipp Mainzer

Fatima chest of drawers

Philipp Mainzer

Enoki side table

 “I think you can tell that many of our products were designed by an architect,” says Mainzer, referring to the main e15 collection. “They are very architectural pieces. They were designed to complement any interior and work with other products. They weren’t just designed for the design’s sake. I think that’s a very architectural approach – to think about what surrounds the product rather than just the product.”

It’s no surprise that Mainzer elected to open a dedicated office for architecture and design alongside e15. He employs both architects and product designers there, and his staff work across disciplines.

Philipp Mainzer


Most recently, they have been working on an office building in Qingdao, China for a Taiwanese glass manufacturing company. Currently under construction, it has involved the design of a master plan, the landscape, building, interior, furniture, lighting, and even graphics.

“There’s a growing market for the supply of the full concept,” says Mainzer. “Architecture is a major part of companies’ branding and marketing. The whole environment has to work together and work properly.”

Philipp Mainzer

Philipp Mainzer

Taiwan Glass FPG, Fujian

Mainzer and his team had previously designed a building in Fujian, China for the same glass manufacturer, creating a playful patterned glass skin. Other architectural and interior design work has included a distillery in Germany, a private university in Taiwan, and fashion retail spaces among other projects.

Philipp Mainzer

Closed boutique, Hong Kong

Does he find it easy to shift his mind between conceptions of form and conceptions of space? “Yes,” he says with a clarity that has characterised our whole conversation. “If you look at our product forms and our architecture, they’re very much connected.”

Mainzer’s purity of design approach resonates as I glance down at the card he’s given me for his architecture office. There’s no logo. The words “PHILIPP MAINZER OFFICE FOR ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN” instead serve a graphic purpose. Things don’t get much clearer than that.

Portrait of Philipp Mainzer by Justin Loh, Shininghead Media.



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