Pronounced "make," MAIK is an experimental Danish design brand founded in 2009 by Andreas Sachse and Rune Rex. I spotted it when I was in Copenhagen last fall and although it was closed, I was able to peer through the window and suss out that it was a unique and compelling retail and manufacturing model. Once I got home I wrote Rex to learn more. Click through the slideshow to see and hear more about the company, in Rex's own words.
"What makes MAIK unique as a manufacturer and design shop?" I asked Rune Rex, MAIK's co-founder. His reply? "Unlike most other start-ups we have had the ambition right from the beginning to own most of the value chain in developing and producing our own products—in that way we believe we can ensure our products are designed properly and the manufacturers to behave nicely to the environment and to their employees. This has already led us to a couple of trips to China, numerous manufacturer contacts, and a handful of solid collaborations in a very short time. We have gained a huge amount of experience that most companies miss because they outsource most of the production processes."
"In May 2011, we opened our first store in a trendy upcoming area in Copenhagen. The idea behind having the shop is to get close to our customers by letting them participate and step right in to our studio/workshop/shop, giving them a unique experience. Adding to that we have also chosen to not only focus on a single product category. We like to play around with the concept of a 'design brand' and not to limit ourselves. This goes for testing various different business models as well."
"We've just launched the BUILD & DESTROY toy. It's our take on kids' traditional building blocks, made for urban living and institutional use. During the summer 2011, we realized that we could solve a lot of the pains we associate with building blocks (noise, children hurting each other, etc) using EVA foam—as well as making a very stylish piece of toy. The result is the world's first truly conceptualized EVA foam building blocks. Our customers range from restaurants (it's the perfect 'restaurant toy' because it's silent) to people in search of good-looking toys (the black and pink looks pretty astonishing together), to nurseries and kindergartens."
"Now we're about to create the first truly designed and conceptualized series of bike baskets with accessories. Under the umbrella name The Bike Crate, we'll launch five different bike crate models that are customizable using different types of accessories. The first three bike crate models will hit the stores in Denmark in May with an international launch to follow shortly after."
"Our first model is already at our shop, a hand-built bike crate. The hand-built model will be our flagship model with a limited production sold at selected retailers only. The four other models are consumer models and will be sold and distributed widely along with our big range of affordable accessories."
"The bike crate is designed and built for every day use. It is spacious and sturdy and meets the demands arising from a busy urban lifestyle. Due to its size and form it is more versatile in use than even the big classical bicycle baskets. The materials used can withstand everyday use and all kinds of weather. The bike crate is made of dibond, stainless steel, and polycarbonate, and all brackets are custom crafted in lightweight aluminum. The corner brackets can withstand even strong impacts."
"Elevate, another one of our designs, is our tribute to the tealight candle and the Danish ‘hygge’ concept. Through time, the tealight has created ‘hygge’ (coziness) by bringing light and warmth into homes during the long dark Nordic winter months. Elevate is our way of sharing this central part of Danish culture with others. Besides being sold at the MAIK shop it is exclusively available at the Danish Design Center in Copenhagen."
What is their big-picture vision? "To create a better world by creating better products," says Rex. "We want people to stop wasting time and money on bad products and instead use quality products that make them happy every day. We also want more people to realize their own potential, and we're currently toying with an idea of creating a cafe/lounge concept that spurs entrepreneurship and creativity by creating a very special environment with the right events and tools to attract people with different backgrounds but common visions. It's still only on the drawing board, but it fits our goal of sharing our knowledge and experience with other creative and entrepreneurial people."