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Adam Simha '88

Passion for drumming turns to steel design

Adam Simha ‘88 formed his first impressions of MIT as a toddler. That’s when he began his frequent visits to campus with his father, O. Robert Simha, MCP ‘57, who was director of planning at the Institute from 1960 to 2000. The elder Simha is now a research associate in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

Adam Simha ‘88

“I got glimpses of wisdom and knowledge–of doors to worlds within worlds that only need to be pushed open,” Adam says. “These early impressions inspired me to open those wonderful doors, at MIT and everywhere.”

Soon after earning a physics degree at MIT, Simha opened an entirely different sort of door when he began drumming studies at Berklee College of Music. But repetitive-stress injuries forced him to stop. He traded drumsticks for a baker’s hat at Clear Flour bakery in Brookline, MA, then at Salamander, an upscale East Cambridge restaurant. In 1993 he won second place in a national James Beard competition for his sourdough bread.

When baking brought on a recurrence of his injuries, Simha moved into sound-focusing engineering with MIT colleague Kevin Brown ‘88, SM ‘90, PhD ‘94, president of Brown Innovations. Simha was drawn back to drumming part time in 1994, when he and a Berklee colleague started the rock band Chelsea on Fire. They did well, opening for artists such as rocker Joan Jett. But Simha wearied of road trips, especially after he married Mollie K. Sherry, a social worker at Children’s Hospital. During a welding and metal class at the Massachusetts College of Art, he found his next career. When Simha left the band in 1998, he founded MKS Design, which he named for his wife. The couple live in Cambridge with their seven-year-old son, Ovadia, whose drawing of Simha graces the contact page of MKS Design’s website: www.mksdesign.com/.

From MKS Design’s headquarters in his garage, Simha works with steel to craft furniture and knives, which are fabricated in Canada and the U.K. The limited­-­run chairs, lounges, and tables have found homes in such establishments as the Esprit flagship store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, while Simha’s finely crafted knives with sparkly bicycle handles are popular with the public and with chefs from well-known Boston-area restaurants, including Radius and Rialto.

Simha’s playful and sleek designs have won attention in the Boston Globe, Pure Contemporary, and the Atlantic; sales have increased steadily in the past year, and commission requests have risen sharply. Simha describes his style as nondogmatic, modern, and honest. “I love steel,” he says. “It allows for a great degree of delight.”

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