Could you briefly introduce yourself and tell us about your background in design?
My name is Anke Nienhuis and I’m originally from The Netherlands. I studied Industrial Design at The Design Academy in Eindhoven, Holland and in my first job worked as an interior and expo designer in Eindhoven and Amsterdam. I then did a masters in Product Design at Domus Academy in Milan, Italy. After getting my MA I stayed on in Milan and worked for a variety of great design firms including Design Continuum, Aldo Cibic and Matteo Thun. I also returned to Domus Academy and taught design there. After a little stint in Japan, working for Fujitsu, I returned to Milan and started my own design studio. When I came to New Zealand I worked as an in-house designer for several companies including Orca, Anne Geddes and Philips-Selecon. I found it very interesting to travel to China on several occasions sourcing materials, visiting trade fairs and overseeing production.
What do you do now and what do you enjoy most about it?
I have been a freelance designer for several years now and also picked up teaching again and have been a design lecturer in NZ for many years. I love variety and being a product designer you get plenty of that. With the additional teaching thrown in, no two days are even remotely the same, ever!
What is the hardest part of what you do?
Stop working. It’s really a 24/7 thing.
What is your philosophy on design/why do you think design matters?
Design can improve every day life; from putting a smile on peoples faces to actually saving lives.
What’s your favourite way to get the creative juices flowing?
I have no idea, it just happens… But not always at the time you want it to. I do sometimes get up at 2am to quickly draw what I think might be the solution to a design problem I struggled with the day before.
What has been your greatest design related success and why?
Every time a design gets made and you see the final product is exciting and rewarding. It’s also really neat to stumble upon any of your creations. For example, I was visiting a relative, here in New Zealand, and suddenly noticed that she was wearing slippers that I had designed the sole of, 8 years earlier in Italy!
What has been your biggest design failure/mistake and what did you learn from it?
Always make models, even when you are in a rush! Don’t just design something in CAD and get it made without first making models!
Do you have any examples of favourite design works or designers?
I like innovation and originality. I like products/inventions/ideas that are surprising, meaningful and will make a difference, big or small.
What skill/knowledge has benefitted you most so far in your career?
What advice would you give to students/upcoming designers?
Design meaningful things. Try to make positive changes where they are needed most.
Keep up with the latest technology, materials and manufacturing possibilities to draw inspiration and new ideas from.