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Q&A with Ontwerpduo

Ontwerpduo is now an established name in Dutch design. They debuted worldwide with the bestseller candlestick “Tallow”, which they created as 1st and 2nd students. During their studies, they continued to take on design assignments and graduated with distinction in 2008 with their graduation project achieving several prizes. Since 2008, they have created many designs for their own collection and diverse brands including Vij5, &tradition, Ilumi, etc. Their own collection is known for its playful designs and dramatic and poetic photography.

We met with them to talk about the Dutch design legacy, the development of the Turn-Table and how to be partners both professionally and privately.


First of all, tell us about your studio.
Our work process is characterized by Tineke getting wild ideas and Nathan figuring out how to follow up on them in a practical sense. Tineke likes to imagine things just a little bit differently to the way they are, by fantasizing new functions for them, largely ignoring any practical or technical restrictions. Often these things are in a form that seems impossible – until Nathan gets involved. He sets to work in a workshop that has come to resemble a laboratory. When he emerges again, Tineke’s ideas turn out to be feasible after all. And so everything can begin again, happily ever after.

How did you come up with the idea for the coffee table?
We loved the combination of different small tables. It gives you the opportunity to create small settings of beautiful products on top of them – to gather a good collection of things. Most of the time, a combination like this has a lot of legs, and looks complex. The idea for the coffee table was born with this logical observation, that connecting legs make fewer legs.

How can the coffee table be used in a contemporary interior space?
The table is simple, elegant and modern. And since the table is customizable you can shape the look of the table to express your own personal taste and interior styling.

What makes the coffee table recognizable as a product of Ontwerpduo?
It must be its playfulness.

What part of the design development was most challenging?
We were challenged in order to make the connection part stable. Made by Hand came up with a complicated but simple looking solution, which was exactly what the design needed.

How does your environment and the Dutch design legacy influence your design?
We are skilled and educated with a general feeling of ‘everything is possible’. We always find factories, materials and co-operations which are extraordinary, but still a logical choice in the Netherlands. We just begin creating and producing without waiting for companies to give us an assignment. We just start.

You’re not only a duo professionally, but also privately. How does it affect your work?
In the best possible way. We can be really honest with each other. We don’t need to be polite. This ends up in fiery discussions, where one really needs to come up with good arguments. It makes our designs stronger. We basically never stop working, but on the other hand, working feels like free time as well. It is a way of living. We create. Our kids think it’s normal, that every parent has got a big workshop stuffed with materials and machines. They are so used to making things that they sometimes think it’s boring. We visit factories with them, glass factories, wood workshops, upholstery factories, etc. Our holidays are usually combined with business trips. We meet local people, see interesting places from their point of view. We can’t separate our work life and private life.

Share your best quote.
I don’t know the correct translation. In dutch it is: ‘’en als het dan mislukt, dan graag genietend van het leven’’. Clean Pete (a Dutch band, red.)
Translated more or less like: ‘’and if it fails, then please enjoy life meanwhile’’. It means: You should enjoy life, your daily life, especially while failing.