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Interview with Igor Kluin

Home > Designer Interviews > Igor Kluin

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Igor Kluin (IK) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Igor Kluin by clicking here.

Interview with Igor Kluin at Wednesday 29th of April 2020
Igor Kluin
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
IK: Ever since I was a child I have been designing and making things. On many levels actually, from handy storage boxes to sketches of a new type of car to writing music and photography and film. After leaving school I started working for a company that was developing a bicycle rack with a locking system. So I started redesigning that product and the branding which lead to my first company: an graphics design and advertising agency. I think I have always been interested in design that has a purpose, a goal. With film for instance, if I were to seriously take that on one day, it would most likely be a documentary. Shot and edited like a motion picture, with great music and all, but with a purpose: to provide insight. So yes, I have always been designing, in many ways I guess.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
IK: Well, our company Vaan Yachts is very new and young, we just started really. Our mission is to design and build luxury yachts that do not harm the planet. Great sailing yachts, made for true sailors, but made from mostly recycled materials and almost entirely recyclable at end-of-life. This means a lot for the design, which also has to stand out from the current yachts on the market aesthetically. Besides Vaan I am also involved as a product designer and developer in some other companies.

FS: What is "design" for you?
IK: The purpose of design is to make live better for the people interacting with the object of installation. Now making life better can be achieved in many many ways, functionality, insight, emotion, or even shock. But the end result should be that is makes life or a person 'better'.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
IK: I don't really have a favourite I think. I can switch from graphics design to product design to film and photography all the time. That's what I like most I think, to deliver an integrated 'package'. Not just the product, but also the branding. Not just the songs, but also the album cover. Not just the yacht, but also the branding and experience. I think most great designs are beyond one object, one thing. But rather a small or bigger ecosystem that enhances the experience.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
IK: That's an impossible question:) I like the Getty Museum by Richard Meijer a lot, the architecture. I like La Grande Arche in Paris. I like the iPad, the movie Heat (for it's cinema-photography and styling), most Michael Mann stuff actually, Wally in yacht design, I mean this can go on for a while actually:) There is no favourite. The idea of ranking these things is silly really.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
IK: An electronic bicycle rack called Cycleguard. It never became a big business succes, but I leaned a lot, we got international press and it was a great learning experience. From idea to drawing to a tangible product in the city streets used by thousands. I shaped me a bit I think, that first experience, that you could actually do that: have an idea and bring it to life. I love that.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
IK: I work 'in the box' as they say in music production. All on my laptop and iPad. I like Illustrator for outlines because you can create many layers and versions without losing stuff. I use the iPad with pencil but not for detailed drawing but for quick sketching and reviewing and commenting on stuff that I get sent. I'm not great at making drawings, like on paper with a pencil. I do like having everything digital, organised and backed up:) Other tools are Fusion 360 for 3D, Premiere for film, Cubase for music, Photoshop for images of course, Apple Notes for text and XD for UI design.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
IK: I don't know. Can be any time any where really, but it comes in flows or waves. So when a wave comes I have learned to ride it. Write, draw, record. To capture what happens in your head. Then, when the ideas a re stored, you can let your head forget about it without losing the idea. Keeps your head clear:) But it does mean that sometimes I need to work on something for a few hours all of a sudden, so I can get it out:)

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
IK: The main concepts, the bigger picture. Then from there on to the details.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
IK: Mosty excitement, and focus. I can really get excited about something coming to life, working out better than you first envisioned, right on your screen:)

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
IK: Well pride obviously:) I think all people designing, building or crafting stuff feel pride in an realised product. I know I do:)

FS: What makes a design successful?
IK: If it makes the lives of people better. In usability, aesthetically, thought, insight, growth etc.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
IK: Has it been done thoughtfully, was the intended user taken seriously. I am less interested in completely autonomous art creations where it's all about the artist. Nobody is that interesting;) I like things that seek interaction.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
IK: To make life better for people. Products are a big part of our current climate crisis. So particularly product and service designers have a great responsibility to not product crap any more. People want to continue enjoying life, so let's make sure that products, travel, consumables etc are still great, but not harmful to the planet and other people.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
IK: I don't reflect on the design field much so I have no valuable perspective on that. I just feel that making life better is a trend everywhere, and certainly also in design.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
IK: I haven't done exhibitions for my work. It's more that the products I have designed get used, the music I write gets listened to and performed, the yachts gets built etc.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
IK: I get inspiration from many many places. Cities, nature, other art and products. It's everywhere, if I am open to it. Oh, and I like going to trade shows, also about industries that are not really relevant to me at that time. There is great power in cross-industry inspiration.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
IK: I like simplicity, cleanness, usability, transparency, no abundance, focus. I think this goes back to my prior point that I like to have an effect, an impact, a purpose.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
IK: I liven a small walled town in the Netherlands, close to Rotterdam. The combination of the small village on the water and the nearby modern city is perfect for me. I like small life, and big life.

FS: How do you work with companies?
IK: I engage, become part of the team. Or I form the company and the team:) It's all about commitment, to see things through till it is reality, working. I don't design and run:)

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
IK: I think in the work of a designer, designing is just part of the job. Getting the product or installation or service or whatever realised is the other part. I would select designers that are not just good conceptually, but also practically.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
IK: My process is quite simple: get to really know the company, people, situation and potential users. Truly engage. From there on I usually get only a few concepts. 1 or 2, maybe 3. That's it. And then you refine and refine. That last part is the less inspiring but crucial bit:)

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
IK: Jotul mini wood burner, an old art deco dresser, our sofa, a Hay round dining table.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
IK: Sorry...!? No:) Too much variation. But I think in most of my days it's a blend of work, romance and kids (in no order:) The kids bring the most structure in the days and time with my wife and work is blended around that. I like it:)

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
IK: Don't get caught up in 'the scene'. Any scene really. Be you, where you want to be. Don't try to be someone else.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
IK: The positive is that you are living in the future a bit. You envision things that are not materialised. I like that, the promise of a new thing. And then you get to see that become reality for others. That's really full-filling I think. The negative is that it's always a puzzle, a bit of a struggle, a compromise maybe. Between the maximum you can think of, and the practical maximum. There is always a balance to strike. Great for the end result, but hard work:)

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
IK: Simplify.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
IK: Be a curious generalist. Open to new things, new learnings, out of your comfort zone.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
IK: The full Adobe Creative Suite, Autodesk Fusion 360, Macbook Pro, iPad Pro with pencil, iPhone, 3D mouse. Inspiration is everywhere...

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
IK: I am quite advanced in task management. Using multiple systems for work and private stuff. And I like the OKR systems, Objectives and Key Results to really get where you want to go, to prioritise.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
IK: That really depends. Sometimes it's a week, sometimes, like with the Vaan R4 sailing catamaran it took 5 months I think. And we are still tweaking it.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
IK: What makes a design good?

FS: What was your most important job experience?
IK: I think my company Qurrent, a bottom up renewable energy company. And of course now Vaan Yachts.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
IK: I mostly am my own client:)

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
IK: As mentioned above, I like integrated projects. Where more than one discipline is needed. But mostly graphics tend to be my first step for almost any project.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
IK: Design more yachts, and some other sustainable products for other companies. I like that combination.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
IK: For the first time, in Vaan Yachts I work as a team with my wife Nienke van t Klooster. She is the interior stylist for Vaan and it's the first time in my life that I can truly cooperate with someone on a design where I am comfortable to follow someone else's lead. That trust is hard to find.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
IK: Cant say much about it, but for Vaan we are working on a larger model, the R5 which will be close to 50 ft. I love it already.

FS: How can people contact you?
IK: They can always email me at igor@vaanyachts.nl.

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
IK: No thanks! This was fun!


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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