Interview with OKKE & XANDER, owners of STUDIO HENK. Interior design made for design lovers today and in the future
Art, Fashion, Music, Architecture, and Design; are cornerstones of the creative industry. One cannot live without the other, and none of them can live without their artist. For generations and centuries, all of them have been immensely important. Their trade can be a sanctuary for some, and they are a study of time for others. However, there has been a shift in all of them. The way we practice, design, and the way we sell. Because, as we all know, our climate is asking us to make a change, a change for the better. When it comes to Interior businessman and designer, Okke and Xanders are masters at their craft. Designing, producing, marketing, and selling a product with change in the back of their mind. Okke and Xander are the shared owners of the Interior design brand studio HENK. A brand that creates furniture for you and the next generation. Encouraging their buyers to invest in a legacy that will increase value with every generation.
Read our interview with owners Okke and Xander to reveal their passion for long-lasting, stylish, and unique furniture. They will explain their vision of what the design industry could be, starting right here in the Netherlands, in-house at studio HENK.
Let’s start at the beginning. How would you explain your brand to the unknowing readers?
We are a Dutch Design brand creating timeless and customisable furniture for everyday life. We inspire our customers with both durable and sustainable designs that balance beauty and function. We are proud of our Dutch heritage and embrace a no-nonsense and down to earth approach in everything we do. Through our personalized service and seamless customer experience, we welcome everyone to invest in high-quality pieces that can be enjoyed for generations.
How do you divide the roles? Is it strictly divided where Okke does the business side, and Xander does the creative side of the business?
Yes, Okke focuses on everyday business operations, sales, IT and business strategy while Xander focuses on the creative part of the business. This means defining our furniture collections, architecture and visual identity of our retail and office locations and of course keeping track of and being involved with our brand identity.
Your brand is growing rapidly, and you are achieving many goals. What is a goal you are striving towards right now, and what are your long term goals for the future?
We always strive to inspire. At the moment we are working hard on our foundations, to facilitate our growth, but more importantly, we are determined to use our business as a force for good and become a B Corp certified company. Our long term goal is to create a zero-waste furniture industry.
What is the creative process you go through when designing, and what would be the most essential thing that you always keep in mind while designing?
We take a lot of inspiration from our everyday lives. In my case, since I’m an architect, it means that I take constant inspiration from the architecture that surrounds us. Another example is fashion. I’m not very fashionable myself but love to follow fashion. I look at fashion and see an industry that creates and reacts to trends very quickly while architecture is “slow” and more about responsible and timeless design, thinking about the future, for future generations and its surroundings. I would say product design is somewhere in between these two industries. This is also how we approach our design progress. We take about one to two years to create our collections. We usually start with a brainstorm where the whole design team shares its thoughts on the times we live in and what inspired them the previous year. At this point we also look back on previous collections, what we miss, what is the feedback from our end-users, and what can we improve. After this, we start with a widely spread market research that focuses on, amongst others the previously mentioned industries. With this research, we try to get a sense of what we think is ahead. We try to define the next years in product design and take the lead in where the product design industry is and should be heading. Next to this we always keep our Dutch, down-to-earth mentality in mind. Our products should always appeal to the imagination, be made from the best sustainable quality materials and be comfortable to use.
I hear a lot about sustainability while producing and designing. How do you go about this while marketing the products?
We try to be open and transparent about our products and the way we work. We have a clear objective to create a zero-waste furniture industry. We are aware that we still have to make some big steps to realize our dream to have a zero-waste furniture industry. We will make sure, through our marketing strategy, that our followers feel inspired and enjoy this adventure alongside us.
You just opened the newest store on the Rozengracht, and I know from experience there are two more stores, another one in Amsterdam, and one in Antwerp, Belgium. Are there any plans in the future for opening up more stores in the Benelux?
In the autumn of 2022, we will open our next brand store in Utrecht at Janskerkhof. In addition to Utrecht, we are planning to open multiple brand stores in 2023.
What do you think sets HENK apart from other Dutch interior designers?
We try to keep everything we do, related to our identity, in-house. This means we work with an in-house creative team that designs the products from scratch, we source our own factories, we internally design our stores, we make our own visuals, and we do our own photography. I think within our industry this is quite unique. We, Okke and Xander, don’t have a long history in the industry and therefore we look at the industry without being affected by the status quo. We do everything with an open mind to stay as creative and unique as possible.
Browse their site to find a couch that will fit your living room or bring in your old chair to be reupholstered. WWW.StudioHenk.NL
Words by WIES KUIJPERS