Check out some great work from Alexander Pelikan.
What motivated you to open up your own design studio?
It all came about really naturally. It wasn’t really planned. I was finishing my third year and I wanted to work for a designer to pay for my cost of living, so I approached Maarten Baas because he had a studio next to mine and I asked him if I could build some furniture for him. He said “Yes, okay but you need to have your own studio, so you can write your own bills.” So I opened up my studio while I was still studying. I have always, since I was 15 or 16, worked independently. I was used to working relatively in-dependently and it was really natural that I started this studio. It became really handy because it allowed me to do my own design. It worked out well, not only working for other designers, but also promoting my own stuff. There was no huge plan behind it. It’s kind of scary, actually.
You learned as you went?
Yeah, exactly. That’s what I’m still doing.
How do you manage the non-design aspects of running your own studio?
I have a very good accountant. The marketing and such belongs to the design. It’s a part of being a designer, being creative about marketing, having good relations and things like that. It can be difficult, but if you approach it in a creative way, as you would approach an assignment, then it’s more fruitful. That’s how I do it.
What advice would you give to somebody who would like to open up their own studio like you did, straight out of school?
Basically, find out what you’re good at and try to make it happen. Speak with gallery owners and companies. Do what you love, what you’re good at. Try to find that magic formula. The most interesting things I did came unplanned.
When promoting your work have you found that one approach works better than others?
My theory is “don’t be annoying.” Be professional and get your stuff known; it’s really important to not overdo it.
What characteristics or qualities would you say make a successful designer?
Be original. There are so many chairs out, so many of whatever that’s been done, it’s very difficult to sell things, to get an assignment. You have to put 1000% into what you’re doing, to be in love with your stuff, to have the drive and passion. That passion for what you’re doing, the clients will see it. They invest more in your passion than in your product. They may be triggered by your product, but what really makes a difference to them is your passion, your drive. They can see that and feel that, and it’s easier to convince them that you can do the job, that you can develop a product. They can feel your passion.
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Your work at times blurs the line between art and design. Can you discuss your approach and share some examples of challenges you face in designing for a specific market?
When I design for a gallery, or when I design a limited-edition piece, it’s not really an approach. It’s, again, the passion. I love to make the things I make. You have to be serious about your work. As for the assignments for industrial design, there’s more decision makers involved, whereas for a gallery commission, there’s only one person.
Essentially understanding who your client is and how you deliver the project based on that.
If you were just starting out now, what advice would you give yourself?
Do more things that you love. Be more deliberate with the possibilities. You cannot do it enough if you’re passionate about your work. Play around. Work hard.
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