Interview with Daphne Zuilhof
Aside from being so young, Daphne Zuilhof, is also ridiculously driven and focused. The Amsterdam based designer recently made the transition to setting up her own studio, and now works across a variety of fields including product, interior, and experience design.
Her work ethic, ethos, and philosophical approach to design is something we massively admire, and we were fortunate enough to have the chance to sit down and share some ideas and experiences with this talented young woman.
Can you tell us a bit about how you became a designer?
I've been creating ever since I was a kid. Drawing, building things from cardboard or whatever was lying around. Still it took me a long time to figure out how to design the way I do now. Doing well in school seemed to mean going to university, it was only later that I realised I needed to be in art school to learn what I really wanted to learn.
Tell us about the transition to working as a studio, have there been any challenges?
Working independently is amazing and in many ways feels like a huge luxury. You have a lot of freedom in decision making in projects, but also in other things such as choosing to work on your own development. The big challenge is finding a way of working that matches up with your personal aspirations, financial feasibility, external appreciation. Finding the right balance is a continuous search.
How do you see design changing over the next few years?
I hope to see a change in intent. There used to be a time where design companies made it their mission to cater to people's wants and needs, without forming a strong opinion about the effect their work would have on people's lives. Now it seems more acceptable to develop, share and apply their own ideals. This means the design community takes on the responsibility they have and works on shaping a future they actually desire.
What household objects could you not live without?
I know this is sort of cheating as it also counts as a tool, but I'd have to say scissors. Scissors are one of the best inventions ever made and if it weren't for self-control, I would have a huge collection by now.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I love to discover little 'effects' in my surroundings, or when I'm making models and experiments. Actually in those moments I'm just a nerd who gets intrigued by the effects of a certain fold, a light effect, or unexpected logic. The thing is to get hooked and see something in it. As soon as you get excited about something no matter how small, it can be enough to start developing from there.
Plans/ambitions for the future...
My dreams are mostly small. I love what I have and just dream of upgrades in terms of a larger or better-equipped work environment, and getting into a position where I can do larger projects. Although, a big dream of mine is to do more international projects, working with local factories and craftspeople in various countries I've been to before.
What advice would you give to up and coming artists/designers etc?
Be stubborn. Value advice and criticism from people you admire, don't bother with well-intended advice from anyone else (even me). Do what you believe in, others might not get it at first but — if you stick to it and develop — will love it later.
What’s your idea of happiness?
The creative sparks of making, creating, getting ideas, being surprised in the process; that my workaholic kind of happiness.
What’s the meaning of life?
I might need a few more decades of life experience to figure that one out.