Let me introduce you to LITERALLY my favorite designer to follow, Max Humphrey. You know how you have imaginary friends when you’re little? Well, Max is my "friend" although we have never met in person. We do, however, trade some pretty funny antidotes via instagram but I have always been curious about his design deal, so today we get to dig in a little bit.
Keep on reading to hear about Punk Rocker turned Designer Max Humphrey and his proudest moment being re-posted on Burgerville…
Raili: OK, spill the beans… How did you go from being in a punk band to this world of interior design? I want the full story, AND a copy of your resume. Ha!
Max: Yikes I don’t even have a resume. Basically my band broke up, and when I got home to LA I was supposed to be getting a real job but was spending all my time decorating my apartment so the lightbulb moment was maybe I could make a career out of it. I hustled my way in to a part time design assistant role at a boutique firm and the rest is history.
Raili: You are def a design disrupter. I don’t know anyone else painting exposed HVAC units ballerina pink. Did you ever go to design school or just dive in blindfolded? I need to hear more about how you come up with your design ideas…
Max: I did not go to design school and I "learn by doing" so I like to just dive in and figure stuff out as I go. I do have a degree from Emerson College in New Media but I still don’t know what that means.
Raili: I have heard you were in LA for a while working for a design firm. What lead you to Portland, and do you ever miss the LA life?
Max: I spent 15 years in LA so I was ready for a change of scenery and Portland just came calling. I’m originally from New England and the Pacific Northwest has some similar qualities - creatively, aesthetically, seasonally.
Raili: Your act is full of whimsical and campy design... which I am obsessed with! It seems so freestyle, but then I see how detailed you are with your drawings. Is it really that easy for you to pull together all your ideas into one space?
Max: My projects exist on paper as a series of crumply post-it notes all over my desk (which is also my dining table). I don’t do fancy design presentations or keep spec books or anything. I have some help doing CAD drawings when I need it but otherwise I just freestyle it when I’m at a job site and see if the contractors or clients look at me like I'm crazy when I spit out an idea.
Raili: I consider you the king of "outside of the box" design. Where do you get your inspo and ideas from
Max: Designers always say “travel” but that’s not how I get inspiration. Mostly I drink 17 cups of coffee watch a bunch of soccer (go Timbers!) until the ideas flow. I walk around the supermarket a lot too - something about doing boring, everyday things inspires me. I go shopping a lot too, mostly local Portland design stores and a ton of secret antique and vintage spots too. I like shopping for stuff in person. Fuck the internet.
Raili: Most exciting project you've done?
Max: I got to design a brand new, gutted Airstream trailer which was an exercise in aluminum and soft angles. I added cork flooring, designed built-ins and seating in plywood and laminate and then decked it all out in Pendleton.
Raili: You are beyond awesome and funny on instagram. Has that platform changed your opinion on design/designers? What is your favorite part about the gram AND least favorite?
Max: I just try and post stuff that makes me laugh and not take any of it too seriously. My favorite part about instagram is when I get my stories re-posted by Burgerville which is my favorite local fast food restaurant. My least favorite part is when I meet someone that’s all hippy-good-vibes on insta but is a jerk IRL.
Raili: Whats next for Max? TV? Book deal? Or back to music?
Max: I’m renovating my house, mostly myself, which is super fulfilling. If punk rock taught me anything it’s to DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF. I also have a line of made-in-the-USA wool rugs that just launched and I’m going to design some wallpapers next. Half of my projects are commercial now which is something I’m stoked about.
How rad is Max? If you haven't already rushed to the gram to follow him, you can find him at @maxwhumphrey.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more Design Disrupter Q&As coming your way soon.
Photos: Christopher Dibble