Q&A : Merel Karhof

Q&A : Merel Karhof

I the last few years, we've seen Merel Karhof's studio explore everything from ground up roof tiles in bio resin to Venetian glass - often harnessing the power of the wind as part of her process-led practice.

We spoke to Merel following the Kritjes: Little Crayons project she created for us.

Can you tell us who you are, where you were born and where you are now based?
I am Merel Karhof, a product designer born in the Netherlands and currently based in London.

How would you describe what you do?
With my designs, I reveal the unnoticed and create awareness of obvious things such as the daily variable colour of the water in Venice, or the urban wind, which I use as an energy source to knit scarves, for example.

How and where do you make your work? Can you describe your making process?
In my work there is a strong emphasis on the process. For this research-based way of working, I develop my own tools and products, which function as 'three-dimensional sketchbooks' that visualise my studies.


What tools and materials do you use in your work? Do you have a favourite material and is there a tool you couldn't do without?
I do not limit myself to one material or tool but I do often make use of the knitting technique in my work, I can't really knit myself so I made a machine which is powered by wind and knits for me. I could not make my work without it.

What initially sparked your desire to become a designer and what drives you today?
At a young age I travelled through Europe and lived for longer periods in different European countries. Traveling has given me the opportunity to sharpen my curiosity, to meet creative people and to discover local manufacturers. It continues to inspire me to make products in a dialogue with my surroundings.

Can you remember the first thing you made?
Yes, on a summer holiday in the south of France, I made an outfit for myself from discarded plastic bags, consisting of a skirt and a t-shirt. The t-shirt had a little pocket in which you could carry your notebook and a pencil.

What do you feel the role of makers and designers is today?
I think designers should continually stay curious, research and expand the boundaries of the design discipline, adding new visions and adapt to the changing environmental, social and economic circumstances.

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
Currently I'm working in the Textile Museum in the Netherlands on a collaborative project with artist Yasmijn Karhof. In the project we are researching how you can manipulate a flat plane to shape it in a specific way around the body. For this we are working in The TextileLab, which is home to three computer-operated Dornier Jacquard rapier looms - with this machine you can create the most complicated patterns.

Photograph by: Angeline Swinkels

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