Friday Five with Leonhard Pfeifer

For this week’s Friday Five, we tap New Zealand-born, London-based designer Leonhard Pfeifer who designs top quality furniture with a minimalist aesthetic that he’s known for. Guided by modernism, Pfeifer’s pieces are composed of geometric forms that are stripped of unnecessary details making his work admired across the board. In 2011, he won Design Guild Marks for his Farringdon Laptop Desk and then in 2012 for the Eigen Coat Stand. Thanks to his award-winning designs and his broad experience, you can now easily obtain his work online and through some of Europe’s largest retail stores. With business links across Europe and the United States, plus family in Austria, Australia, and New Zealand, it’s no wonder Pfeifer spends a good amount of his time on a plane. Check out the five things he doesn’t leave home without.


1. A robust travel case.
Robust luggage is a must-have and you can’t go past the iconic ribbed aluminium construction of Rimowa – complete with 5-year guarantee.

Confidence in a product like this reminds me of the ‘Austrian bridge’ I crossed on a recent factory trip in Eastern Europe. It was explained to me that the bridge had a 100 year guarantee, which had expired several years before. The Austrian company who manufactured the bridge had written to the municipality to confirm the expiration of the warranty, stating if any repairs were needed from then on, they would incur a cost.

I admire any product (or structure) that comes with this kind of warranty – it shows how assured the manufacturer is in their level of craftsmanship, quality of materials and production values – three things I hold in high esteem…

Pictured above: Rimowa Topas 2-Wheel Business Trolley


2. A journal to jot down ideas
Technology is great but nothing beats a notepad (and pen) for jotting down thoughts and ideas, especially when you’re on the go. During my first trip to Europe in 1992 I bought a Muji aluminium journal case – it’s robust and with the internal clip mechanism, refillable. I have traveled with this journal for more than 20 years now and the dents and scratches just add to its appeal.

Pictured above: 1992 Muji ‘Aluminium alloy ring binder notebook’ – no longer available and Vintage Dr Who K-9 Robot Dog


3. Smartphone
As technology has converged to pack more and more functions into the mobile form-factor, modern smart phones (irrespective of the flavor) have become indispensable to anyone moving around and I would be just lost without mine. For obvious reasons the phone function is central, but so is email, Skype and WhatsApp for keeping in touch with the studio, the camera for prototype reviews at a factory, maps and GPS for getting there, and of course Twitter and Flipboard for keeping up with social media – all in 5.3” of black mirrored mobile awesomeness. But what keeps me sane when I’m traveling are podcasts – I get through hours of Radio National podcasts every week and even more when I am on the road, so I make sure to load up before I travel.

Pictured above: Samsung Galaxy Note and Maps: Untamed London by Herb Lester


4. Sunglasses
Ideal for cutting the cabin-light glare on the 6AM flight or protecting fragile and tired eyes from the setting sun later that same day, a good pair of sunglasses are vital.

UV protection aside, sunglasses are good for hiding behind – whether it’s a quick nap on the plane or surreptitiously checking out a joint construction underneath a table in a café over lunch.

I like the classic lines of my Dunhill Clubs – no fuss, utilitarian, with just the right level of glamour. I remember the brand from my childhood when my dad had a Dunhill attaché case, and since I’m a Dad too now, I also qualify.

Pictured above: Dunhill Club Grey Sunglasses and Japanese Daruma doll


5. A second pair of shoes
This may sound obvious, but even when you are packing for a quick overnighter, a second pair of shoes is an essential luxury – especially when you are up at 4:30AM for a flight and then walking aisles of a show all day before heading out to dinner that night – slipping on another pair of shoes the next morning is worth the cabin baggage weight. I always pack my ‘dress to impress’ Enrico Fantini boots, but after a long day walking the isles, you will find me reverting back to my kicked about Puma trainers for the evening’s festivities.

Pictured above: Enrico Fantini Black Ankle boots and American Apparel calf high seed stitched trouser socks in Cherry Tomato

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.