About the Designer
Maximilian Riedel, CEO of Riedel Crystal, is the 11th-generation head of the family-owned company based in Kufstein, Austria. Best known for the revolutionary stemless “O” glassware series, which he designed and marketed in 2004, Maximilian has gained accolades and awards from The Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco MoMA, the Corning Museum of Glass, Maison et Objet Paris, The Wine Spectator and The Wine Enthusiast. Today, in addition to his leadership of Riedel Crystal of North America, he is the principle designer of the glassware company's decanters, including the sommelier-favorite Cornetto, the O Decanter, for which he won a Good Design Award, the Bird Series (Paloma, Swan and Flamingo), which he co-designed with his father, 10th-generation CEO Georg Riedel, the Eve (2008), the first vessel to “double-decant,” and the Mamba (2011). Learning the family trade at the early age of 12 from his father gave Maximilian the perspective and insight both into the glassblowing technique and the business principles needed to helm an international company. By the age of 18, he had committed to a career in the company, and foregoing the traditional path of attending college away from home, Maximilian chose to attend school locally in Kufstein, Austria, so he could split his time between his classes and his new role in sales and administration at the Riedel Crystal Factory in Kufstein. Maximilian shadowed his father, who had learned from his father, Claus J Riedel. Working closely with his family and the master glassblowers who create Riedel Crystal, Maximilian knew managing the family company was in his future. Today he acknowledges the value of his heritage, noting, “I don't want to be the last of our line. I hold the torch now.” Understanding the responsibilities that accompany holding the torch of an international luxury business was not an easy task. After training in Riedel's Austrian headquarters, Maximilian took a leap of faith, and, after introducing Riedel to the Dubai market, headed to Paris to further his education in the Riedel trade, working for the company's French importer, Ercuis. At the ripe age of 23, Maximilian moved stateside to become the Executive Vice President of Riedel Crystal of North America. Thrown into a country and a way of business unfamiliar to him, he felt “unprepared”, even with his father's training. His existing knowledge of the glassware industry and his eagerness to penetrate the American market pushed Maximilian to take active steps to learn how Americans conduct business.. At 25, Maximilian became CEO of Riedel Crystal of North America. Since then he has more than quadrupled the company's sales in the United States and Canada - making them the company's largest export market. Driven by Riedel's philosophy, “form follows function,” Maximilian, living in a small apartment in Hoboken, NJ, soon discovered the need for more ergonomic wine glassware, for space-strapped apartment dwellers like himself. In 2004, Maximilian staked his first claim to his master-glassblower heritage, and created the “O” series, a line of stemless varietal-specific wine glasses that became the most successful new collection in Riedel history and revolutionized how the world perceived luxury glassware. He attributes the advancement in stemware to wanting a “wine glass that was beautiful and stackable, but more casual than our others. I designed the wine glass that I needed for myself.” In response to perennial demand for elegant stemless glassware, in 2011 Maximilian introduced “The Key to Wine,” a tasting set featuring glassware in 5 different varietal-specific designs to encourage consumer education.. His innovations and ideas for the present and future of the company are unrivalled. Always thinking of a smarter, more efficient way to do things, Maximilian envisioned a stronger market in restaurant glassware and leapt on the opportunity to introduce a line of restaurant glassware which not only provided a 3-star wine experience in addition to a 3-star culinary experience, but which was dishwasher-safe. The result, a line of more durable glassware characterized by a shorter stem, was appropriately named Riedel Restaurant. In addition to Riedel Restaurant, Maximilian's ingenuity modernized Riedel Crystal in the US through the development of the Riedel Webstore, the first internet boutique in the company's history. Following the successful launch of the Webstore, Maximilian expanded Riedel Restaurant through a microsite dedicated to serving the restaurant and hospitality industry. Also on the digital front, under Maximilian's tenure, Riedel has rapidly embraced social media outlets including Facebook and Twitter, engaging directly with consumers through daily communications, periodic competitions and commentary from the CEO himself. Maximilian's hallmark creativity and curiosity have inspired his other achievements. 2008 brought a watershed year for Riedel Crystal, when Maximilian and his father, Georg Riedel, introduced the Swan, Paloma, and Flamingo decanters, representing birds in flight; the first ever pieces to result from collaboration between two generations of Riedel family members. That same year, Maximilian set a trend in “double-decanting” with his cobra-like Eve decanter, which decants wine as liquid flows both in and out of its coils, and earned a patent from the German government. Since the Eve, Maximilian has drawn inspiration from his birth year, the Year of the Snake, for his Mamba, Black Mamba and Green Mamba decanters (2011), which, upon introduction, set the record for the fastest commercial vessel for decanting wines, 18.5 times faster than any other available. The Mamba garnered Maximilian a second Good Design Award from The Chicago Athaeneum Museum of Architecture and Design, following the O Decanter in 2005. 2008 also brought a new direction for Riedel's subsidiary, Nachtmann, when Maximilian sought to reinvigorate the traditional German glassware brand through a collaboration with leading design schools. Working with Pratt Institute professor Stefanie Kubanek, Maximilian challenged design students to reinvent Nachtmann's image in their own vision, guiding their product development as mentor, and awarding two students the opportunity to bring their concepts to market. The collections, Petals and Quartz, have performed successfully, and Maximilian has expanded the program internationally. In addition to his business and design leadership, Maximilian travels around North America, animating comparative glassware tastings in Riedel Crystal. Each year, he educates over 20,000 consumers who attend Riedel's seminar-style tastings, where they discover the incontrovertible effects that shape, color and size of glassware have on how wine tastes and smells. Riedel has forged partnerships with Miele, the luxury home appliance company whose dishwashers best care for Riedel glassware, and Celebrity Cruises, among others, where his tastings have become high-demand experiences for converts throughout the continent. A pioneering force in the wine world, Maximilian J Riedel continues to modernize the contemporary glassware industry.
AWARDS & HONORS
Good Design Award for designing “O” Thumbs Up Decanter, Chicago Athenaeum, 2005
Good Design Award for designing “O” Stemless Tasting Glass, Chicago Athenaeum, 2005
Member, Young Presidents Organization since 2006
Special guest of Honor, High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction, 2006
Tastemaker, House & Garden Magazine, 2006
Appreciation Award, Orange County Wine Society, 2007
Corporate Leadership Award, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, 2008
Red Dot Design Award for designing the Swan Decanter, 2009
Grand Prix Table & Gift awards for Design, Innovation & Technicality, Mamba Decanter, Maison & Objet, Paris 2011
Wine Enthusiast Wine Star Special Award for Generations of Innovation, 2011
The Riedel family has been in the glass business for 300 years, with 11 generations keeping the family business intact. Tradition and innovation - the Riedel company can proudly look back on its success story. From its beginnings in northern Bohemia down to this day, for 11 generations, Riedel Glass has stood for the high art of glass making. In 1673, when Johann Christoph Riedel was born in the Bohemian town of Neuschloß, no one could have guessed that this was also the birth of one of the greatest glass enterprises in the world. The Riedel glass dynasty is built on the creative energies of a long line of glass makers that have focused their products on wine glasses as well as decanters and accessory products.
This Bohemian glass merchant was the starting point for a direct line through several generations down to today´s corporate head Georg J. Riedel and his son Maximillian. Each Riedel in this long chain has been able to contribute his personal skills and views to expand the company´s success and make it what it is today. The Riedel story begins in 1678 in the northern part of Bohemia, bordering Schlesia - today the Czech republic and Poland respectively. This part of Bohemia was a German speaking enclave known as the Sudetenland. The Venetians brought back the knowledge of glass making from the Near East around 1.000 A.D. The knowledge of producing glass spread slowly towards the northern part of Europe, searching for energy, critical to the melting of glass. Wood was the source, causing a glass maker migration to the forests. Due to this migration, a glass culture developed in Bohemia in the 17th century.