Burkhard Schmitz and Carola Zwick started their studio as a team of six in Berlin in 1992. The group was looking for the freedom to work on projects that interested them, and for the freedom to do so without bosses or titles.
This is the way they’ve operated ever since. “Everybody does everything,” says Schmitz, speaking for the group that now includes Carola’s brother, Roland Zwick, and a small team of seven. “That’s how we cultivate ideas and maintain our openness and curiosity.”
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 of movement is important for these designers. They move freely—and smartly—when designing products for their clients.
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. “You really have to work in three dimensions when designing products,” notes Roland. “Computer drawings just don’t give you the feel, the touch, the smell.”
They love designing furniture, or as they prefer to call it, “equipment,” as in the tools people need for the work that they do. They find designing office chairs in particular to be most rewarding and have worked with Herman Miller on the award-winning Setu, Mirra, and Mirra 2 chairs—and now, Cosm. “We define not only how the chair looks but how it performs,” Carola says. As to how Setu, Mirra, and Cosm all perform for you, they provide comfort no matter how or where you sit. “Our goal is to enable people to assume roles similar to that of a craftsman in his shop, surrounded by what he or she needs to be most productive.”