Written by Tom | 4th August 2022
Contemporary design is changing, and few know this better than design duo APTUM. Made up of partners Tineke Beunders and Nathan Wierink, their celestial lighting designs have captured the imagination of those looking to bring a little magic into their own homes. With their stars firmly on the rise, we stopped by their studio to chat about how they’re trying to bring artisan wonder to everyone everywhere.
We fell in love during our studies. And it turned out we liked working together as well. During studying we already started making products, and in order to sell them, we had to start a company. We never really discussed this, we just did it. Actually all we do is based on intuition.
We started our work as ‘Ontwerpduo’ in 2008, right after graduation. We graduated with four furniture designs, though as I mentioned, we were already selling previous smaller designs—such as bags, candles, tables, lamps—made in 35 different shops worldwide while we studied.
While we designed a number of collections with beautiful products, it was always the lamps that drew our attention. Our ‘Light forest’—now one of our most famous designs—was designed in 2010. It is an adjustable lighting system. With this system, we gained some experience in designing site specific products, production in house and installation on site. We loved this so much that in 2018, we decided to focus entirely on customised lighting. This we do under our ‘new’ name: APTUM. We now have 2 lighting systems in our collection: Light forest and Contour. Contour as a system was designed in 2018. But we design new objects with this system every week.
This works perfectly. We have known each other for over 20 years and we make great use of each other's differences in character. Nathan is more mathematic, technical. He is a maker. He does not only like to make the designs, he also loves to make the machines to make the designs. He has a great focus skill. Working on projects without distraction.
I have the overview, the direction we want to go. The contact with clients. Managing the projects. The design part that I do is the general look and feel, shapes, material, colour. But no design can come to life with only one of us. We really need each other in the process. And sometimes we switch roles. It is good to understand each other's skills and work.
Galaxies, fairytales, imagination, evolution, nature. These themes cannot ever bore people. They are so big they remain mysterious, meaning you’ll always find inspiration in them. It’s very satisfying to bring that kind of wonder into peoples living rooms; into the entrance of a hotel; everywhere you live your ‘normal’ life. The two things can coexist. When people see our work, we want them to lose themselves in a dream, just for a bit.
Yes. A design succeeds when people can be amazed by the beauty of the work, and at the same time be happy about the high level of functionality that it has. Both have to be in balance.
That depends on two things: can we work with the material ourselves, in our own workshop? And is the material interesting for lighting? Most of the time we have an atmosphere in mind that we want to create. This contains colour and texture. We play with material and light, until we find an interesting image that we want to capture in lighting that fits different spaces.
Because everything becomes more global, things like social media are increasingly determining the way design is done. Dutch design is influenced by design all over the world, and design all over the world is influenced by Dutch design. Our work is often described as more akin to Scandinavian, Japanese and Italian design. Depending on the product, we just create what we feel like.
In terms of the work that we make, I wouldn’t say we fit into the world of Dutch design. Our work is dreamy, fairytale like. But how we work is much the same as how dutch design comes to life. We create, make, try it out, make it again, get it to work and start presenting. Start selling. Improve the design, make again, and repeat. It’s industrious, entrepreneurial even.
We make a lot of prototypes and try-outs. These are special. You need to find the one person that falls in love with your work. Catawiki helps us reach those people with their worldwide audience.
Of course we encourage this! First of all, people in general feel happy when creating pieces/ products/ art. When making something. And people feel happy surrounding themselves with work that has been made with love and care. Second is that the overwhelming mass production of extremely cheap products is so out of hand that we need to reverse things. We need products that we love, cherish, use, repair and use again—for a lifetime and longer.
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