TALK - Timo

Who is Timo? I am a creative entrepreneur, 32 years old and I have been living in Amsterdam for 10 years now. During my high school years in Apeldoorn, the subjects ‘handenarbeid’ and ‘informatica’ were the subjects that excited me the most. After high school I decided to study ‘product design’ (a direction within Engineering, Design and Innovation) at the HvA. This is where my fascination for design and entrepreneurship started to grow.

Why did you start ‘Werkwaardig’? During the ‘Product Design’ studies, I quickly discovered my interest in interior design products. In my opinion, these products have an interesting balance between their use and aesthetics. Most people want to have a beautiful and comfortable chair at their dining table that fits in with the rest of their interior and also has the right seat-height and width. I like this interplay of form, function and precision because it makes interior products much more personal than, let’s say, an electric kettle.

During the Salone del Mobile in Milan, I saw on the one hand a lot of “safely designed” products, which looked like they could be sold directly but all look the same and on the other hand a lot of conceptual designs that could be anything but already sold. I felt that there was a gap between these and after working for a while at the Dutch design brand Lensvelt, Diederik and I decided to start our own label and fill that gap. This became Werkwaardig.

What defines you as a designer? Good design makes ‘something’ happen in the user’s mind. It could be a positive or negative thought, or a question that arises. Our products need to be able to become a conversation when someone walks into a room. I think one way to do that is to play with contradictions.

You can see this, for example, in the SIDEPIG, a side table that has the shape of a pig. A pig is perhaps the most discussed animal in the world, because of religious attitudes, its heavy body and uncleanness. In contrast to this, we used this animal to create a user-friendly, light product that feels clean and lovable, so everyone has to like it. 

With the FCKVASE, we simply took off the middle finger and replaced it with a flower. Also here the contradiction between a negative and positive gesture within 1 product makes it interesting for me. This does not always need to be literal; it can also take place within a production technique or material, for example, as in the Knotted Candleholder with which we create a shape that at first glance is not possible from this hard porcelain material. With the Round Clock, we wanted to take the unaffected view of a child as a basis. We asked a three-year-old child to draw a perfect circle. That ended up being the unique, just-not-round shape of the Round-Clock. This immediately raises the question, what is actually perfect? 

What are you proud of? I am proud that we can make people happy with our products that come from our own vision. I think it’s cool that we can help talented designers bring a product to market and make users happy with a real unique product. A win-win!

Entrepreneurship is never without its struggles. We often encounter unexpected challenges that force us to think carefully about a solution. This process was “scary” at the beginning, mainly because of the responsibility you feel and the financial setbacks involved. We are now 8 years in and getting better at anticipating them. That is something I am proud of.

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