Big Heap Co-founder Mickey Meulenbeek has always had an eye for good design and good designers. She grew up near Old Town Scottsdale and would often visit the Agnese Udinati Gallery in high school. After college, she would siphon off grocery money to pay for art in lay-a-way at the same gallery. It was there that she met famed designer Max Gottschalk. At the time, Mickey was working with Tucson metal artist David Flynn and Max requested their assistance producing some of his furniture designs. Max was meticulous in the rendering of his pieces, using drafting instruments to measure every detail and angle. He was foremost an engineer, teaching Industrial Design at Pima College. Mickey recalls that Max was feisty and opinionated, and so wanting to get his work into the right homes, he would sometimes sell the pieces for less than the cost of materials. His focus was on designing mid century works made of natural materials that would enhance the beauty of desert dwellings. Although she loved his design sensibilities, she laughs at his narrow dining chairs, lamenting that he was very narrow in the hips like Frank Lloyd Wright and built them to suit.
Mickey stayed in contact with Max for years and just prior to his move to California with a caretaker towards the end of his life, Mickey met with him and bought his prototypes. She has a fantastic collection of his work, although she regrets not possessing any of his studies on speakers and sound design.
If you find a Max Gottschalk piece, grab it! He was an iconic piece of Tucson history and his precision work is timeless and beautiful.
The Big Heap is looking for only the best skilled artisans and representatives of antiques and vintage wares. Does that sound like you?
Many thanks to photographer Mary Ellen Knopp for sending us photos of The Big Heap in Scottsdale, November 2014. She is also behind the beautiful shots of our last November Big Heap in Cave Creek. Such are the rich benefits of having a long time friend who is also a talented photographer.