A studio visit with Eindhoven's Alexander Pelikan


The Pelikan Brief

Eindhoven-based designer Alexander Pelikan specializes in eye-catching, experimental product and furniture design. He places special emphasis on sustainability, and often juxtaposes traditional and contemporary materials and processes in pursuit of his ongoing interest in “cybercraft.”

For his Plastic Nature series, for example, Pelikan fused handcrafted woodwork with the pop-appeal of hand-cast polyurethane resin. Similarly, in his ongoing ClicFurniture collection—a series of flat-packed, intelligently produced, and easily assembled chairs, tables, and more—as well as the more recently debuted Laduz Table, the designer combined traditional woodworking and joinery techniques with CNC technology. The results are a contemporary interpretation of modernist tenets: honesty in materials, minimal ornamentation, clarity of use, and rational production processes.

In honor of Pelikan’s recent addition to our community, we chatted with the designer and took a peek inside his Netherlands workshop and studio.

Alexander Pelikan portrait by Boudewijn Bollmann. Photo courtesy of the designer. Alexander Pelikan portrait by Boudewijn Bollmann. Photo courtesy of the designer.

Prepping the Plastic Nature Chair for hand-casting polyurethane resin. Photo courtesy of Alexander Pelikan. In the studio: Prepping the Plastic Nature Chair for hand-casting polyurethane resin. Photo courtesy of Alexander Pelikan.

Hand-casting polyurethane resin. Photo courtesy of Alexander Pelikan. Pouring polyurethane resin. Photo courtesy of Alexander Pelikan.

The Plastic Nature Chair. The Plastic ur Photo courtesy of Alexander Pelikan. The Plastic Nature Chair. Finishes available in ash, beech, oak, cherry, or maple wood joined with plastic in undyed, off-white or any color you like. Photo by Bas Berends, courtesy of Alexander Pelikan.

AC:  When did you first know you wanted to be a designer?

AP: I've always liked beautifully made, well-working objects and products. I was attracted to quality from an early age. Even in high school, I felt a disdain for consumer society. So, [I thought], what better than to go down the [rabbit] hole and see for myself if I couldn't make it better?

AC: Explain the role that sustainable materials and practices play in your work.

AP: Any material can be sustainable. For example, a well-used, highly cherished, plastic throwaway product can be passed on for generations if cared for well; whereas, an ecologically sound-seeming product can have the devil in the dirty details. I always consider both necessity and sustainability while working on a project.

AC: How do you approach the marriage of technological innovation and the handmade? 

AP: I [exist] in a world of tools . . .We are, as Andy Clark puts it, “natural-born cyborgs.” That means the use of anything that I get ahold of is valid. Our task is to make our products and objects readable, and to root them in culture, craft-tradition, and mythology.

Pouring molten material in the workshop. Photo courtesy of Alexander Pelikan. Pouring molten material in the workshop. Photo courtesy of Alexander Pelikan.

Prepping the Laduz Table. Photo courtesy of Alexander Pelikan. Prepping the Laduz Table. Photo courtesy of Alexander Pelikan.

Assembling the Laduz Table. Photo courtesy of Alexander Pelikan. Assembling the Laduz Table. Photo courtesy of Alexander Pelikan.

The completed Laduz Table. Photo courtesy of Alexander Pelikan. The completed Laduz Table. Photo by Bas Berends, courtesy of Alexander Pelikan.

AC: As a designer, how do you see your role in the world?

AP: A designer's role is that of stimulator of ideas and feelings.

AC: What matters most to you as a designer?

AP: Love.

AC: Any new projects you can tell us about? What are you working on presently?

AP: At the moment, I am working on a chandelier, a coat rack, a series of exposition furniture, and a super-light, self-assembly lamp concept.

AC: Thanks so much, Alexander!

*All images courtesy of the designer. 

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