• Interview Excerpt: Mike Simonian, Co-Founder, Mike & Maaike, San Francisco

    Check out some great work from Mike & Maaike.

    Interviewed before Mike and Maaike was acquired by Google.

    What motivated you to open your own design studio?

    We wanted to create an independent and experimental design studio that works on a broad range of subjects. Prior to starting Mike & Maaike, we had both worked for industrial design firms and gained a lot of experience. We were excited to combine this experience with an optimism and energy that we had both maintained through our careers.We also wanted the studio to be very personal. We didn’t want to just churn out as many projects as possible and do whatever we were asked. For this reason, we named the studio Mike & Maaike. Having your name attached to your work makes you think differently about the work you produce and makes everything more authentic.

    Practicing industrial design in the US is typically quite commercial and service-oriented. For us, working on both independent and client projects was very important and we had to create a different business model in order to maintain this independence.

    How do you manage the non-design aspects of running a studio?

    Every aspect of our work and lives is mixed together in one big pot. Everything can be approached in a creative way. I would argue that there are no non-design aspects. Even paperwork and contracts can set the tone for design projects and establish the possibilities for the design work. Sometimes, though, I wish I was an intern here.

    Speaking of interns, who qualifies for an internship at Mike & Maaike? What do you look for in prospective industrial design intern portfolios?

    We look for people that have an eye for design, an interesting point of view, and the technical skills to express their great ideas in a compelling way. We have been lucky to work with, and learn from, many talented and optimistic people over the past few years.

    With the current economy and the ever-expanding pool of global talent, it seems that it’s getting harder and harder to get into the business these days. What does it take to stand out and break in?

    I think it is easier than ever to break in. There are fewer barriers than ever thanks to technology, new business/funding structures, and availability of knowledge. I think focusing on doing great work and doing it in your unique way is what it takes.

    If you were just starting out now, what advice would you give yourself?


    Accelerate! In what respect?

    Don’t hesitate. The future will no doubt include successes and failures. The faster you can turn your future into your past, the more successes you will have experienced and the more failures you will have learned from.

    [ … ]

    Mike Simonian with Maaike Evers of Mike & Maaike

    Mike Simonian with Maaike Evers of Mike & Maaike

    Read the full interview in BREAKING IN: Learn more about the book or Buy it on Amazon
    The book contains over three times more interview content.

    Comments are closed.