A grayscale picture consisting of curvy lines and circles that show neutrino interaction in the Fermilab 15-foot Bubble Chamber with heavy neonhydrogen liquid mixture, taken in April, 1976.
Picture of neutrino interaction in the Fermilab 15-foot Bubble Chamber with heavy neonhydrogen liquid mixture taken in April, 1976.

What do we do?

We design (and make) many things, ergo polytekton (see below for a definition of the word)…

• We do graphic design (such as book interiors/book covers) and web design (including hosting and maintenance) for Culicidae Press, LLC and Culicidae Architectural Press (both peer-reviewed), Obvious Press (private label publishing for polytekton), and Big Zeppelin (special projects).

• We strongly believe in giving back to the community. That is why 50% of all our work is pro-bono, benefitting non-profit and educational institutions, such as Iowa State University’s Department of Architecture, the Southeast Chapter Society of Architectural Historians, the Margaret Zach International Women Composers Library, The Alachua Consort baroque music ensemble, Hog Press (independent and nonprofit), and others…

• Shared prose and poetry: notArchitecture

A portfolio of polytekton—chronicling work that has been completed in the last thirty years—is available in separate volumes through Obvious Press.

Interested in hiring us? Drop us a line…

Who is polytekton?

polytekton is the synonym of Mikesch Muecke, a German-born designer and academic who lives and works in the United States. The word ‘polytekton’ comes from the Greek poly-, meaning ‘many,’ and tekton, a common term for artisan or craftsman; loosely translated polytekton means: the maker of many [beautiful] things.

My work is disseminated through academic, commercial, and philanthropic venues that are part of a larger network of interdisciplinary endeavors concerned with the built and unbuilt environment in its material, historical, cultural, theoretical, and temporal representations (see the om page for links). To say it differently, I (or we, the royal we of The Big Lebowski) enjoy the following activities: to imagine, draw, think, make, build, write, design, and publish.

Currently polytekton makes the bulk of his living and working at Iowa State University (ISU) in the Department of Architecture where, in his role as an academic pinch hitter, he teaches studios at almost any level of the professional undergraduate BArch or the professional MArch degrees, and leads history/theory seminars and/or digital courses.

In its earlier incarnation—as mikeschDesign—polytekton has been web-accessible since the mid-1990s but its origins go back to the 1970s when he began his career as an itinerant artist, producing drawings, paintings, and murals on automobiles and buildings in Germany and Canada (there may still be a mural of the Neuschwanstein castle on a house in Bowden, Alberta that he painted in 1979), then advancing this diffuse artistic vector many years later—following an academic career—into a full-time calling as a designer, researcher, scholar, and teacher.

Painting a car by hand in 1980 with three children, from the now defunct Kinderheim Wiehmbeck, looking on.

Since 1979 polytekton’s scope has progressively broadened and deepened to include architectural design, book-publishing, graphic- and web-design, ceramics, print-making, as well as more conventional design-build projects such as condominium conversions, house renovations, and small buildings. This material work has been enhanced by academic schooling with degrees from the University of Florida (B.Design with a Major in Architecture and an MArch) and Princeton University (post-professional MArch and Ph.D.).

Something More Vague Perhaps?

A First-Person Mythological Narrative

How to cultivate an identity in the here and now is always grounded in a well-maintained mythology derived from an increasingly hazy past. So, let me remember spending hours in a forest adjacent to Spork-Eichholz, a small village near Detmold, Germany, where I may have grown up for the first seven years of my life. This is where I created perhaps imaginary places in my head, where I could have played on the harvested wheat and barley fields to the north of our rental apartment, where I probably, but not certainly, ran with kites in the Fall, and bicycled—perhaps furiously—during the long summers.

This is where I could have learned to whistle because the door bell of the house, to which I was delivering the news magazine Der Spiegel every week, appeared not to work. The village, I vaguely remember now, was the site of an inconsequential accident but a persistent memory. I may still wear a scar on my lower arm from scraping along a car parked next to my falling bicycle, a bicycle that felt rigid to me because it belonged to a friend, and my kinesthetic frame had not adjusted to it yet. That accident probably taught me the concept of difference, at age six.

Quite a few years later, right about now, or maybe a few weeks or months ago, I want to believe that those hours spent imagining, playing, whistling, and falling in three dimensions gave me a well-rounded foundation to become both a designer (in the sense of pro-jecting ideas into the present and future through representations like drawings, models, etc.) and a scientist, if we understand scientists not only as nerdy professors in white lab coats but also as innovative tinkerers who desire to learn. After all, the word ‘science’ derives from the Latin ‘scire’, to know, and the word ‘design’—in my German mother tongue I would use the word ‘Entwurf’—is a kind of throwing-out-into-the-world of something that has not existed before, an invention of sorts; something new to know.

Let me conclude this brief fictional and mythical life overview with a favorite author of mine, the late Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; not only because he carefully crafted his stories but perhaps also because, with his craggy face, he looked a bit like my late father (who didn’t work as a freelance writer like Mr. Vonnegut but as a newspaper journalist at the Lippische Landeszeitung in Detmold, Germany). Vonnegut, not my father, wrote in 2007:

The very best thing you can be in life is a teacher, provided that you are crazy in love with what you teach, and that your classes consist of eighteen students or fewer. Classes of eighteen students or fewer are a family, and feel and act like one.

Kurt Vonnegut

I am a teacher…and a maker.