Daphna Laurens, Eindhoven-based design studio founded by Daphna Isaacs Burggraaf and Laurens Manders.

— Hello Daphna and Laurens how are you?

We are the very happy but slightly tired parents of our nine-month-old son Raffi. Luckily we manage pretty well to keep up the work in the studio.

— Can you introduce yourselves?

We are Daphna Isaacs Burggraaf and Laurens Manders, we run our studio together since 2008. Both graduates from the Design Academy in Eindhoven. Right after graduating we started doing exhibition and spatial design projects. This started with a couple of projects for Lidewij Edelkoort. Shortly after that, in 2009, we joined Dutch Invertuals and started to design products. Our project Tafelstukken was the first product which is now partly in the collection of Cappellini.

— Where does your interest in design come from?

When we were young we wanted to become a butterfly and a knight. Since these professions are not that common anymore nowadays, we figured being a designer would be the next best option! We assume that being raised freely, open-minded and being introduced to culture, art and music led to the fact that we both knew at a relatively young age that working in the creative field was our goal. Growing up, gradually you find out what is your specific interest and what’s your personal strength.

— How did you come to start up the studio?

Starting a design studio together actually was not planned, it just happened. We started out with exhibition and spatial design for Lidewij Edelkoort. In response to the graduating project of Laurens, Lidewij asked us to create some plateaus for one of her exhibitions. Just being graduated, we realised the job using an old sawing machine given to us by a friend’s father. With the money we earned we bought a new sawing machine of our own to do the next job. In a nutshell that is how we started and have build our studio. You could say that one thing led to another, but of course it isn’t going to work out if you are not willing to invest a lot of time, energy and money.

— Can you explain to us one of your project?

We’ve created several design approaches for ourselves. For example the process of making shape and composition studies. Instead of knowing the end result from the beginning of the design process, we can work with our imagination and surprise ourselves with unpredictable results. The projects “imagination tools cabinet” and “paperclips” are a good example of this approach. The 60 imagination tools inside of the cabinet are selected out of hundreds of drawings with just a black marker. Quickly drawn but later carefully selected and executed in metal, put on display in a workshop style tool cabinet to point out that they are tools for your imagination.

At one point, during the process of creating this rather abstract piece, we “found” a clue of what could be paperclips. That’s the moment the ‘real’ design process starts; developing an idea / rough sketch into a tangible prototype and at a later stage finding out how and where it can be produced industrially. We can’t imagine that we would ever design paperclips, but this approach allows surprises.

— Do you have a favorite material to work with?

No, every material has its own qualities. Although we are working on some material driven design projects at the moment, but mostly we don’t start a process with a material. In general the material used is the most logical / rational choice for the products purpose and functionality.

— A designer that you admire?

A difficult question with multiple options of answers. Let’s start with some classics: Poul Kjaerholm, details and strong lines. Charles and Ray Eames, their endless inspirational search for; the best for the most for the least. Jean Prouvé, proofs that a highly technical approach can in fact result in widely appreciated aesthetics.

We think it’s fun to name some contemporary designers, that work within the same timeframe as we do!

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, for the way they manage to unite “the abstract” form and industrial manufacturing. Bertjan Pot and Jaime Hayon for their playful and experimental approach. Jasper Morrison for his ability / expertise to narrow down, bringing a project to its very essence. Last but not least our former studio neighbour, Dirk van der Kooij because of his innovative character and handwriting and for the fact that he actually very clearly did chose a material and process as a starting point.

— Is there a book which opened your eyes about design?

No not really… we don’t read a lot, but we do have and enjoy art and design books. The Bouroullec’s drawing book always gives us joy. To just look at the drawings and fantasies.

— The last word…

Have a good day with lots of smiles and serious design fun!



Pictures and projects by Daphna Laurens. Portrait by Mike Roelofs.

Interview: Dennis Moya + Tiffany Bähler, 06.16

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