As I was researching Müller’s background for this Q&A, I found myself thinking, should I, like, date this guy? As you will find out, he’s kinda amazing. Unfortunately, Michael lives in Germany, but with all the hype around his designs maybe he’ll consider moving to the U.S.
Michael Müller is a visionary artist with an after taste of mystery. He’s obsessed with the movie from the 50’s called “Harvey”. The main character, Elwood, has an invisible 6-foot rabbit as his best friend. Not entirely invisible, clearly, at least one person can see him. Michael infuses life into these kind of metaphors and imposes a critical outlook on oneself. His 3D printed jewelry line is called “Pookas”, after the creatures from Irish folklore that can, allegedly, take the appearance of black horses, goats and rabbits. Michael is also a game developer and owner of KRITZELKRATZ 3000, where he gets to channel his artsy inner child.
He was invited to do this Q&A primarily because of his unforgettable design of 3D printed cycling accessories. His trenchant work exemplifies the kind of simplicity one can only envision after taking the time to cross disciplines of mastering 3D modeling and understanding bicycles. In one of the interviews he gave, Michael mentions, “I’m a fan of designs which have a function. This way it’s not just luxury”. He also explains that the main theme of his work is, “to be open-minded even if this means having invisible friends”. If this sounds like Michael is about to make cycling a lot sexier, then you’re right. His predictions on the effects of the 3D printing industry on cycling are quite illuminating.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: How do you mostly use your bike? Commuting? Leisure rides? Racing?
Michael of Pookas: It’s definitely my favorite transportation. I love the simple but efficient construction. I had a moped once which was breaking, like, every time I started the engine. I feel much safer with a bicycle.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: What cycling means for you as an artist?
Michael of Pookas: As I understand it, there is a difference between an artist and a designer. Mostly, I try to design items which can be used in daily life. For an artist, usability wouldn’t be the main goal. A bike has so many aspects to it which can be used for creation of new concepts and creations.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: A better question may be – What does cycling lifestyle mean for you as a designer?
Michael of Pookas: With a bike you are kind of independent, no need to buy gas or bus tickets. I like this freedom. A bike is not just an object; people use it to express themselves like they do with fashion or their haircuts. I really like to play with that, finding new concepts to design specific parts of it.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: What does being “open-minded” mean for you and your work?
Michael of Pookas: Society, religion, government, even neighbors or family may force you to think and act a certain way. Sometimes it’s probably a good thing, to prevent you from doing silly things, but you should always question rules and habits. This is the theme I try to use for my designs. It’s a good thing to be “different” or even odd. Starting with things like biking to work instead of driving a car or just recycling or even upcycling old stuff.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: How do you see the future of biking and 3D printing?
Michael of Pookas: People are looking for new ways to express themselves. With 3D printing you can easily produce unique parts. It is a great way of customization. I guess this is the main goal of this technology and it will certainly be a great feature for the biking scene and industry too. Right now it is hard to build a unique bicycle frame. This will become much easier with 3D printing soon.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: Do you have a girlfriend?
Michael of Pookas: [Didn’t answer but noted in our email correspondence that he’s married and a father to be. Oh, well.]
Kate of Bikes&Humans: Do you have any new cycling accessories coming up?
Michael of Pookas: I’m a fan of bikes from the early 1900s. Also, I like the advantages of the current technology. I’m thinking of combining these two by creating a 3D printed “upgrade kit” to add LED and batteries to old, broken bicycle lights. The challenge will be to make this mixture of old and new look great and consistent. Also, I never found good looking spoke reflectors, so I’m thinking this would be a great subject to play with.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: Can you tell us more about your recent exposure in Paris?
Michael of Pookas: I’m using 3D printing technology for five years now, mainly for jewelry designs. Surprisingly, I got a lot of positive feedback for my bicycle accessories. It is really an honor that this designs were picked for exhibitions in Paris and also Beijing. I’m very critical of my work. There are so many talented people out there but I guess self-criticism helps in getting better results.