Florian Bürkle has been skateboarding for over 25 years – and he continues with it in his profession life too. After training as a goldsmith and studying product design, he founded FLOID product design. But the love for craftsmanship was inexhaustible. He came up with the idea of doing something meaningful with old skateboards. As a skateboarder you are forced to own a lot of old, broken boards. These are stored in the cellar, under the bed or elsewhere. But what if you just don’t have room and have to clean out? At first Florian could not answer this question either. His first thought was to send the boards to aid projects for children and young people in Central America. But it turned out to be quite an expensive undertaking. As a designer, he had the idea that these boards could be converted into something meaningful. So bit by bit the first prototype for the heart-shaped stool was created called “Mister Wilson”.
The name of the company Mister Wilson comes from skater jargon. It should remind you of the ups and downs skaters and their boards go through. Mister Wilson is the name for when a skateboard shoots away and tears the rips off his feet like in a comic strip. The first prototypes of the stool were still very wobbly. So Florian found the name in no time, although now the construction of the stool is very stable.
Before he converted boards into furniture, he was employed as a furniture and exhibition designer for a few years. In 2011 Florian founded the design office FLOID Product design. Initially, products, rooms and events were created there under the motto: “Design inspired by Skateboarding”. But it was not that easy to find a suitable workshop for working with old skateboards. Especially in Stuttgart it is relatively difficult to find an affordable workshop space. Just outside the city center, the passionate craftsman discovered an old factory canteen in which the first stools were glued together on the kitchen counter. In the meantime he has moved into a small workshop in the south of Stuttgart. Another cornerstone for high-quality products besides the workshop is good tools and materials. This required some investment in advance. It also took a while to find reliable suppliers for furniture production.
Next to FLOID, Mister Wilson is Florian’s second mainstay. He spends about half of the time in his workshop. For him, manual work is an important balance to office work. He gets many old boards from his friends and acquaintances, whom he met in all the years of his skateboard passion. They supply him with old and broken boards. There are also recycling boxes filled by local skaters in the Stuttgart skate shops and in the skate hall. So both parties benefit: The skateboarders are rid of their old boards and Florian always has enough material for his furniture. He is very grateful for this support and equips skaters and skate shops with skateboard furniture in return.
After the boards are in the workshop the work really starts. The first difficult part of the process is the renovation of the boards. First of all, the anti-slip layer, the so-called Griptape, must be removed, which is attached to the wood with strong adhesive. Afterwards, the board must be cleaned of adhesive residues, sanded down and the fractures glued. In addition, skateboards are not flat, but have a concave curvature. When Florian saws a board, it often happens that the two end pieces do not fit together perfectly – an offset occurs. Then he improvises until two end pieces fit on with one other. All this is work that cannot be seen in the finished product. Depending on the renovation work Florian needs one to two hours to finish a stool. In the last 4 years he has already built over 1000 pieces. Thus, more than 500 boards were recycled which would otherwise all have ended up in waste incineration.
The furniture designer currently offers three products. The stools named Mister Wilson are available in two different versions. The heart-shaped seat shell “Slide” consists of the curved ends of the skateboard and the rectangular stool from the middle part of a skateboard called “Drop”. Both terms come from skater jargon. The triangular coffee tables from three different boards are called “Plaza” the bench from an entire skateboard is called “Donny”, since his first board was a pro model by Donny Myhre. For Florian, the special thing about these stools is, they are unique in the world in their form. Not many products can claim that. Besides, a Mister Wilson can only be made by hand. Its dents and scratches make it very valuable. They show that it once saw the world under the feet of a skater. The slightly curved heart shape of the seat not only nestles gently around the seated person, but also symbolizes the importance that the original board had for its owner.
Florian outsources parts of his production, to the BHZ center for the disabled in Stuttgart-Feuerbach. There, the employees in the workshop for the disabled help him with minor sawing and grinding work. He also works together with the organization Skateaid e.V.. Skateaid is an organization that supports projects for children, youth and development aid. They build skate parks in Algeria, Kenya and Rwanda and establish skate schools in Uganda and Tanzania. They want to promote self-confidence, community awareness and determination of children and young people through skateboarding and offer them a real childhood. When you purchase a product from Mister Wilson, part of the proceeds will be donated to Skateaid.
Florian is currently working on a leg construction for a bar stool. Another project is a space-saving folding stool. He is also working on a lounge chair, the “Deck Chair”, which is strongly inspired by the skateboard. For its production he is currently looking for a manufacturer. Sustainability is also an important issue for Florian. “It would be nice,” says Florian, “if one day I could produce my products according to the cradle-to-cradle principle. So all materials used are 100% recyclable or 100% compostable.” In general, he would like more people to have a greater awareness of our environment. “So that all future generations can still ride skateboards,” Florian concludes.