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A conversation with Xander Albers, designer at Studio HENK

A conversation with Xander Albers, designer at Studio HENK

Last week we sat down with Xander Albers, designer at Studio HENK, to talk about the brand’s design philosophy, the balance between aesthetics and function and the success behind the furniture. 

With a small team of creatives you design all furniture for Studio HENK. How do your designs come about?
“I see the design process as an on-going process. The more we design, the more ideas we have for our next designs. We’re constantly challenging each other to make furniture pieces that are better – whether in terms of aesthetics or functionality.”

You have a background in architecture. How is this reflected in the design process?
 “I love it when you enter a building and you can immediately see the way it was build; the way it was put together. Walking around buildings like these, you feel like you understand them. The buildings have character. I think this is something I search for in furniture too. Although our designs appear simple, you can see how the furniture is made.”

Can you tell us a bit more about the design process?
“We often start by looking at the functionality of furniture. How would we want to use the object? Then, we find a way to translate this idea to an aesthetic, yet functional piece. We often start with an abstract idea. We then work on this idea until it slowly starts taking the shape of a furniture piece. Although during the design process we spend a lot of time developing our ideas, we often come back to one of the first sketches. The simplicity of that first sketch, that’s what often makes our designs powerful.”

Where do you find inspiration?
“I mostly look at what is happening around us. As a society we’re constantly changing; things are constantly shifting. I see it as an exciting challenge to create furniture pieces that fit our changing world. On the one hand, you want to make contemporary designs; designs that perfectly fit our current day-to-day lives. On the other hand, you want to make designs that are timeless; designs that will withstand the test of time – not just in terms of quality, but also in terms of aesthetics. It’s a challenge to find that balance.”

Wherein lies the strength of your designs?
“We often find that an object is either beautiful, but not practical or practical, but not necessarily beautiful. With our collection of furniture we bring aesthetics and function together in one object. We believe that furniture design is about finding that balance.”

What makes Studio HENK different from other furniture brands?
“Over the past few years, we’ve launched quite a range of furniture pieces, but they all carry that Studio HENK identity. This is because I’ve always been closely involved in the design process. I ensure that all furniture carries the same identity. I think it’s very important that your furniture has its own identity. It’s what gives it character.”

How would you describe the ‘HENK identity’? What characterizes HENK furniture?
“Although our designs appear simple, they’re quite distinctive in their appearance. We try to give each piece personality. It’s this personality that gives our furniture its HENK identity.”

What motivates you to continue designing new pieces?
“I really want people to fall in love with our furniture; I want people to enjoy the furniture, every single day. I mean, isn’t it great when people are proud to be the owner of a Studio HENK furniture piece?”

How do stay innovative?
“When it comes to innovation, people often think about new materials. At the moment, innovation for us is much more about exploring the possibilities of materials we already use. What possibilities do these existing materials offer? How can we reinvent these materials? How can we create new collections with the same materials? I see it as a challenge to create a beautiful, functional object that is different from what we’ve made before with materials we’ve already used. There are so many possibilities.”

What are your plans for the future?
“I hope we will keep challenging ourselves to make better designs, but mostly I hope we will keep making beautiful, qualitative furniture. That will always be our aim. We want to make furniture pieces that people will want to keep forever; furniture pieces that will be passed on from generation to generation. It is our aim to make timeless furniture, after all."