Henny van Nistelrooy: Stay with the local culture
Henny van Nistelrooy, the founder of Studio HVN. He received his Master degree in Design Products at the renowned Royal College of Art London. 2012 Henny moved Studio HVN to Beijing and teaches at Central Academy of Fine Arts. Studio HVN interprets culture with contemporary design. Every Studio HVN project is the result of a concept tested to its limits and resolved with elegance, efficiency and skill.
A= Henny van Nistelrooy
Q: You used to work in London. Why did you move to Beijing in 2012, in stead of other cities?
A: I studied in London too. Actually it was because of my wife, she got a job in Beijing, so I started working in Beijing. I like Beijing. It makes me feel that I am in China. It makes me automatically connect more with local communities and culture where I live.
Q: Have you been through any tough time adapting to the culture in china?
A: I don’t think there is a tough time. It is easy to adapt, to learn new things and meet new people. It is good to step into a new situation, and there is a little bit challenge because it makes you reconsider everything you know, makes you think in a new way and gives you new perspectives.
Q:”MAZHA”is a very iconic product line from which HVN is known by many people. Why did you want to do such a “Chinese” thing?
A: Well, because of that. As a designer, it is interesting to look at things from local culture that I can reinterpret and make it fit for modern house and for modern use. Mazha, I see them a lot in Beijing, but they are always outside on the streets and are not so well-made and good-looking. But I think the idea of Mazha is really good, and it is very nice to have them at home if you make them more attractive with better materials and design.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration about your work usually?
A: I see things around me, in my daily life, on the street or when I go to the museums. Particularly I go to see culture or elements that is arts or crafts related. These things or architectures are where my inspirations come from.
Q: It’s quite hard to balance the design and functionality in industrial design, so how do you find the balance usually?
A: It is not always easy, but I do think it is important that you get it as good as possible. It is very important to speak with the clients, to really understand their needs. For example, we just did an interview with the home owner about her new house design ideas. She told us that she likes to cook and have her friends. She talks a lot about how her life looks like and what she likes doing in this new house.
I like to think about how to make these things work within the space that she has, and how to create the kitchen that is functional but also nice to be in. You should not only think about the color, but also more practical things like where to cook, where to wash the vegetable, where to put storage and where to arrange everything you need. It’s super interesting to make these “puzzle” work, to make it attractive and comfortable. Especially for interior design, as it really lasts for a long time and people use it every day.
Q: You also participated in 2016 Beijing design week, could you share with us your experience?
A: I’ve been in Beijing for four and half years. I went to the Beijing design week every year since I moved to Beijing. It is a great platform to engage the local creatives and meet new people, to show my work and to get projects. That’s also why we are now here in Shanghai. Most of my projects so far are in Beijing. We also went to Hong Kong before. I have visited a lot of cities actually, such as Hangzhou, Suzhou,Chengdu, Xiamen etc. All of them have their own specialties. I want to have more connections with other cities in China.
Q: You also taught in China Central Academy of Fine Arts. Compared with being a designer, which do you prefer?
A: At the moment I like the balance between these two roles. I do more commercial projects in my studio and in the CAFA, I talk more within an academic context. When staying with students, we really talk about creating new ideas and exploring new direction. Then I apply these ideas into my practice.
Q: What’s your plan for the future of Studio HVN?
A: I think I will put more effort on my studio. It will be a balance between interior design and interior products as they have a really strong relationship with each other. When I design the sofas I understand how sofas are used in space; when I design the space, I have a very good understanding of the details and the pieces that make up the space. For me, interior design is not always a complete change of the structure of the building, but really looking at how you can make up most of the space by putting the right elements inside.