‘No problem. Take care and drive safe’, he texted me when I updated him about my whereabouts, stuck in traffic jam. I was on my way from Belgium to the Netherlands to meet Mindaugas Malakauskas, alias Midas. Born and raised in Lithuania, graduated as an Architect at the University of Dundee in Scotland and nowadays living in Amsterdam, where he works as a freelance designer. A portrait of a man who states the only constant in his life, change.
Connect the dots your own way
I am sitting in front of a 26 year old who probably possesses more sensitivity and reflection skills than 10 average 50 year olds together. No offense, just saying. Midas is some kind of ‘a loner’, in a positive way. The one who does his own thing. Due to his family situation, Midas soon became rather independent, always being very aware of whom he is, how he is and how he relates to other people. Quiet and sensitive. Even as a kid. His technical interest in objects has been present since a young age. Instead of playing with cars, Midas took them apart so to speak. His reflectivity, independency and his early urge to explore has lead him to his current way of life.
Mindaugas, Midas, Midukas. In a nutshell : Mindaugas is his real name, Midas is the shorter version that is used in daily life and Midukas is the name of the brand. It is an Independent Design Brand, whereby all of the designs are meant to be touched, felt and admired. Midukas only uses natural materials like wood or steel and each design is built around the material qualities, the manufacturing processes and the functional intention. Each product is designed and made in Amsterdam.
Later on Midas will comment on this ‘natural way of making’ that this is the nicest way to make anything. He refers to the fact that everything he does is basic and so different than what other people are doing. No additives or chemicals are used in his work. Also the fact that the wood for instance, will change overtime and that it will create its own character and shape, is an attractive idea.
Going beyond the typical
No, there isn’t some kind of mission or message that Midas wants to integrate into his designs. He’s not trying to change the world. Midas considers his designs as physical, little monuments related to his life style, and that is ‘making what he wants to make’. He laughs. Working for a boss is not an option. He tried it once, but he changed his mind quickly. “Of course, you have to work for others, that’s how the economy works, you’re forced to if you want to make a living. But I always try to go around the typical way of doing things.”
High desire to explore
Midas lives and works in Amsterdam nowadays. Because the study program of Architecture in his homeland couldn’t captivate Midas enough, he decided to go abroad. Scotland became his second home where he graduated in 2013. During this study, Midas missed an exchange opportunity to the Netherlands. Back home in Lithuania he decided to organize his own trip after graduation. So he went southward to discover the architectural highlights. Not by car. By bike. He tasted the traveling life, met new people and places and was more eager than ever to develop and refine his skills and explore new techniques and materials. Going back to his homeland wasn’t an option anymore. He stayed in Amsterdam. His willfulness brought him to different kind of projects. He mastered the skills of working with wood, applying the laser technique etc. “Everything I do has to be contextual. If the designs are unreal, I am not interested. Do I work efficiently? No, probably not enough yet. That’s because I love the process of making too much.”
Midas doesn’t meet new people or visit new places because it has to or because it looks good. He’s doing it only for himself. The chance of catching Midas taking ‘selfies’ and posting them into the big world, is rather small or nonexistent. “Because then you would do it only for the opinion of others, definitely not for yourself.” He is still a lone traveler who enjoys walking the street all day long. Everything he does, is the result of a deep and inherent desire to explore, which drives him to new places and in turn stimulates him to create new things.
Live by the sun
Midas is a “sun” child. He needs the sun, extremely. “It’s the most important thing in my life. I am a ‘sun-worshipper’’, he laughs. “If the sun shines, it’s OK, if not, I can really feel the effect of the absence of the sun. I have seen and experienced the effect of it in Lithuania. People can get depressed and feel grumpy”. That’s also why moving to another country – preferably Portugal – is not even a question anymore, but only a matter of time. Having his atelier over there sounds ideal to him.
Changing life is changing priorities
Everything changes. So does Midas. When something becomes repetitive, he’s not interested anymore. Again, there is that inherent desire to explore. “I am an explorer. Change is a constant thing in my life”, he says. “Too often too many people don’t enjoy what they do, but they do nothing about it. It’s like they are looking for excuses for not changing their behavior.” By saying this, Midas doesn’t judge anyone, he only observes. What follows, is Midas’ example of ‘the table with three legs’ to describe how each one can be the personal designer of his own life. Where most people would start whining about the falling table, Midas belongs to that kind of people that would put a fourth leg under the table to solve the ostensible problem and move on.
3 extra hours a day
He laughs. “People who are tired of working all day would love this question I think. But when you live your day as I do, you’re not longing for 3 more hours to do something else that you really want”. Obviously, Midas’ advice to other designers, or people in general would be ‘do what you like’. And he also adds ‘be happy’. And by this, he means the unfulfillable condition to find happiness. “To my belief, you can’t find happiness. You may find conditions for it but true happiness is in yourself.”
Midas surprised me twice. I already knew that he was able to make beautiful objects, but I wasn’t yet aware of the fact that he is always looking for an extra in everything he does. After spending some hours in his presence, this quiet guy has a lot to tell. Not only through words, but most of the time while working on a new design or in the exploration of new things. Just look and you hear a lot.