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Q&A with Kranen/Gille

Furniture & accessories design

We Are Kranen/Gille and consist of Jos Kranen and Johannes Gille. We run a design studio in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, a city in the south of the Netherlands. We design furniture and accessories for a number of design labels like Functionals, Cor Unum and new Duivendrecht.

We also work with larger companies like West Elm in the US for instance. Our latest project was a commissioned piece for the Zuiderzeemuseum Enkhuizen: a custom made cabinet with lamps using props from the museum’s depository.

How did you get started in industrial design? What is a turning point in your professional career?

Before anything (design education for instance) we both had a great interest in creating and enhancing. Once our studio started in 2007 we spent some time designing exclusive pieces for galleries who would sell these at fairs such as Design Miami or Design Days Dubai.

It was all very nice but we missed the democratic part of design and the key to design according to Charles and Ray Eames: “The best for the most for the least”. This means that design should be accessible. It also means that designers have a responsibility to make their designs reproducible at a fair price to both customers and the environment. Once we realized this we started connecting to the industry, which is very hard since the industry has a very traditional way of looking at things but we’re getting there…

What is your ideal work environment? Do you prefer to work in your design studio all day long or prefer to mix a few activities?

Our studio is great! It is located in the city center of ‘s-Hertogenbosch in a very old school building. We are on the 2nd floor (Dutch cities are low) and have a nice outlook over the city. We can work there for days and days but like it best when we can get our hands dirty from time to time. We also have a workshop where we can make ceramics, weld, work with wood or plastics, but that’s mostly for prototyping. After a decent prototype is made we move on to a manufacturer with a machine to make the real product.

Where does your work inspiration come from? (Do you believe in 'inspiration' at all)?

Inspiration comes from everywhere: we cannot pinpoint it. Our brains are ‘on’ all the time so it always takes us by surprise. We just need some input and some time to let it sink in. There are places and situations that we prefer above others but there’s no such thing as an ideal place for us to go and find inspiration, it can happen anywhere.

Where are your favorite art places in your city or outside?

We have some great museums in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Stedelijk museum shows contemporary art and design, the Noord-Brabants museum has a more classic approach. The city itself resembles Amsterdam but smaller, without the chaos and Red Light districts overshadowing the beauty of the city. The thing we like most is just strolling trough the city and ending at a bar at the foot of the Cathedral for a beer.

Who are the industrial designers you admire most?

Tom Dixon, Charles and Ray Eames, Alessandro Mendini.

photo credit: Kranen/Gille studio, Frans Lossie, Monique Slabbers