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In 2004, the industrial designer Sylvain Willenz founded is own design office in Brussels. Since then he designed objects and furnitures in collaboration with several design brands like HAY, Karimoku New Standard or Cappellini. We let you read this interview and see by yourself his interesting projects.

This interview is made in collaboration with the Vevey based design store Kizuku.
Noémie and Jean, the founders of Kizuku offer an incredible selection of Swiss and international design brands like Muuto, ACE or Karimoku New Standard. We are associated with them to promote some talented designers.

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Hello Sylvain, how are you?

Fine.

Can you introduce yourself ? Tell us more about you.

I’m Belgian, I live in Brussels, I run my own Design Office. My home is my office and vice-versa, which is great but sometimes a bit difficult to manage. We are currently working on a project that will enable keeping both spaced under one roof, yet making them separate.

Tell us about your experience and approach to design? Where does your interest in design come from?

I work on a variety of projects, from lighting to furniture, small accessories to textiles. I love chairs and textiles. How to put things together and make them into real products for the industry is what gets me thinking. Graphics and drawings are a big influence. Then it’s all about relationships. Meeting people and understanding how you can create and do business together. It’s so many things at the same time that have to coexist to make up a good product.

Can you tell us more about your collaboration with Victor Hunt and CIRVA?

The CIRVA invited me a few years ago to research glass. I knew nothing about glass. It took a few years for me to familiarize myself with this material. And it is so challenging. Finally I had experimented a few techniques, and in the meantime I met VICTOR HUNT with whom there was an opportunity to collaborate. Victor Hunt enabled me to turn my exploration into final limited series of products. It was a perfect collaboration. Everyone was able to put their competencies to use.

Can you talk a little about your Homerun products for Karimoku New Standard?

At a certain time I was drawing a lot and watching cartoons at the same time. I drew this very cartoonish chair which got more refined, toned down and rationalized to an elegant and functional piece of furniture. Simultaneously, it was developed for Karimoku New Standard who notably produces baseball bats. The Japanese are great fans of Baseball, it’s their national sport. The chair had to be named HOMERUN.

Do you follow any kind of manifesto?

Yes and no. My own I suppose. But I never wrote it out. I guess I want my designs to be clean, elegant, joyful yet classic at the same time. Simply human and understandable whilst innovative. I like products that are unforeseen yet that seems to carry a certain familiarity. A “You’ve seen it, but you haven’t kind” of feeling.

Have you been influenced by any movement or designer in particular?

Influenced is a strong word. I would rather use inspired. And there are many of course. Too many to mention.

Do you have any advice to give to students and young designers?

Remove ego from your work. Think about making a living out of what you are doing. Listen to your heart.

Which book is on your bedside table?

I never read in bed. I plan to have a library in my next office. Recently I bought DIXONARY by Tom Dixon. I love his work, the straightforwardness and the cleverness of his products. Other then that, I read a lot of children books at the moment, for my 16 months son. It’s a pretty good source of inspiration too!

The last word…

I really have to go to bed and get some sleep.

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>   sylvainwillenz.com

 

This interview is made in collaboration with the Vevey based design store Kizuku.

Interview : Dennis Moya & Tiffany Baehler – 12.13

Credits : Portrait of Sylvain Willenz
 ©SWDS, Drop bucket ©SWDO, Shift tables ©VH, Blocks containers ©SWDO, Blocks Office ©SWDO, Profile ©Stattmann Neue Moebel, Piff blue pink yellow orange ©SWDO, Homerun Chair Yellow, All Items / Kid’s Chair / Kid’s table / Paperweights Homerun Chair + Homerun Chair © KNS.

Categories:
Design
Industrial Design
Interviews

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