SLEEK: It is a photo that draws my attention to the Klaus stool. To me, the "Klaus" reminds me of the stools I grew up with. But most of all, this simple stool led me to a story and a project of friends who are very focused on this one product. I talk to Max Stralka and before we get started, he takes me on a little digital tour of the carpentry shop. Once again, I feel a great affection when I see the box with the chair legs or the row upon row of seats made of Robinia wood. This simple stool is for me a reference to tradition and a transformation at the same time and that makes it really emotional.
First, I have to ask you about the story behind that one photo with the man on your stool by the sea.
Max: I often just take the stool with me when I'm out and about. And somehow people know the term stool. Three years ago I took the stool with me to Copenhagen in my hand luggage. This picture was taken when we were standing at the Öresund on a winter day and a Dane came out of the sauna. The friend with whom I was there then simply asked him if he would sit on the stool. And then this man has grabbed the stool and sat down directly on the water.
SLEEK: What's the story behind the stool?
Max: Well, many would now come up with a big story, I don't have such a fitting one. It's more the story of going on a quest, breaking off and starting at a different point. I like to sum it up for myself as the search for the flow feeling, knowing how "worn out" that word is right now. I am someone who notices the little coincidences and faces them openly.
It all started originally with a gift: Time with the carpenter Klaus in the Modulor at Moritzplatz. He was so insane and willing to spend time with me. Because a simple stool seemed like a good choice to start with, the object of my first attempts was agreed upon. After three months, I actually had this stool in hand. This was followed by 5 more and suddenly friends said they would like to buy one.
Since I still had my work at the beginning, this stool thing was a safe, different pole. I then dealt with it more and more deeply. This summer I made the decision to buy the stool and quit my other job. Now I spend 4 days a week here in the carpentry shop.
SLEEK: Limiting oneself to a few products also meets important larger themes, such as the consumption of the future, consciousness in dealing with what we have and also the question of how to shape one's own life. Does that resonate with you?
Max: Claude Debussy once said the following: "My freedom lies in limitation. What luck that I only have 88 keys on the piano." I understood that when you limit yourself, freedom can emerge. I sometimes stand in front of this stool, with its three legs and seat, and it occupies me all day. This limitation gives myself some peace, focus and freedom. The thought about further products is not (yet) on the plan. Although, Klaus did get a little brother - Kläuschen - (laughs). I would like to continue thinking in this limitation.
SLEEK: And also the limitation to stools?
Max: I really only want to build backless seating furniture.
SLEEK: If I look at Klaus, its simplicity really makes me think. That's strange, because it's a simple stool, but somehow it moves something in me.
Max: It's interesting that you describe that. In fact, I hear more and more often (especially from men) that they would like to throw everything away and create something with their own hands. For me, happiness does not lie forced in one or the other. I think you could be just as unhappy and stressed in a carpentry shop as in an office. I can say of myself that I have always experienced that longing or happiness when I could be working intently on something. What makes our work so stressful today are these constant context changes in our minds. I am convinced that these frequent changes in our brains require an enormous amount of energy. I agree with your perception that Klaus triggers these desires for the creative feeling in us, because many have made good memories during experiences with handcrafting something.
SLEEK: How many Klaus stools do you have in your own home?
Max: [laughs] At least one in each room. You don't build the perfect product on the first day. In the beginning, I chose the wrong wood or the legs didn't have the right angle. So along the way, stools came into being that I wouldn't want to sell that way, but they're part of my story, and they're all in my home. One is on my balcony as a test to see how the wood reacts to the weather. I give a 10-year warranty on each stool and the stool is always evolving.