When Burkhard Schmitz, Claudia Plikat, and Carola Zwick began their partnership in 1992, they wanted the freedom to work on projects that interested them—and the freedom to do so without bosses or titles. That’s how they’ve operated ever since. “Everybody does everything,” says Burkhard, speaking for the group, which now includes Carola’s brother Roland Zwick. “That’s how we cultivate ideas and maintain our openness and curiosity.” (Plikat died in 2013 but remains listed on the company’s website as a co-founder and partner.)
The group’s name, Studio 7.5, comes from an early idea to rent a 7.5-ton truck, put a model shop in it, and drive from one project site to another. Obviously, freedom is important to these designers.
The complexity of design problems, Studio 7.5 believes, requires collaboration and repeated testing of ideas in full-scale models until the most elegant answer emerges. They love designing furniture—or as they call it, “equipment,” the tools modern workers need for the work they do. They find designing office chairs in particular to be rewarding, having worked with Herman Miller on the Setu Chair, the award-winning Mirra Chair, and its successor, Mirra 2.
The Setu, Mirra, and Mirra 2 projects demonstrate Studio 7.5’s penchant for using common materials in new and innovative ways to give people more control over their work environment. According to the Studio 7.5 designers, “Our goal is to enable people to assume roles similar to that of a craftsman in his shop, surrounded by what he needs to be most productive.”