Q&A with furniture designers Studio Schrofer
We are pleased to share 2 new product collections 'Bizu' and 'Wink' which have recently been launched by our manufacturing partner JMS. We were lucky enough to speak with contemporary furniture designer Frans from Studio Schrofer (who designed these collections), to find out more about his background and the process of designing furniture.
How did you get into furniture design?
After graduation, I started in packaging design. Here is where I learned about how shape, colour and texture affects buying behavior. When I was able to buy my first home, the sofas on the market didn't appeal to my taste, so I designed one. An art director friend saw what I was doing and advised me to visit a client of hers. I was so excited that I made a dozen designs and at the presentation they selected three on the spot, with three more for later development, and it just kept going. Word of mouth generated client after client. So - you can say, I'm an accidental designer.
Can you explain the process of designing furniture?
I play with shapes, I know what tools can do, I know the limitations of materials, I know what works and what doesn't, and I constantly have my eye on the market. It's the combination of years of experience that drives me to innovate and start sketching. In this process I am simultaneously designing and engineering. There's no use of a funky design if you can't make it, or no one likes it. There are always elements found during the process that pushes the limits of materials, engineering, tooling and construction.
Can you tell us a bit about the collections?
I think the WINK is a beautiful example of how the designer and manufacturer see eye-to-eye (I guess that's a pun). The elliptical eye-shaped wooden back is Wink's signature featured realized with modern CNC technology combined with traditional wood working skills. The backrest can be upholstered with foam backing to enhance comfort or finished with just wood. It is mounted upon anodized metal casting part to the frame that embellishes the slender armrests like bracelets. This adornment is repeated in the backrest, between the support and frame as a dainty decorative detail to accentuate Wink's light, transparent construction.
The BIZU embraces and 'kisses' your body. CNC technology is used to also achieve the backrest's lower lip shape.
How long did it take to design and develop these pieces?
We met in July 2020 and Covid complicated procedures. But when it's love, relationships happen quickly right? Within a year, both collections were finished. I call that fast!
How does designing furniture for the contract market differ to designing for the domestic market?
Construction of the furniture must be stronger because of its intensive usage. Contract purchases also tend to be in high quantities, this means the design should be more neutral in tone - communicating a visual tranquility, a unity of calmness. The residential market can also be very price driven which contrasts with the contract market - consumers need to know that sustainability will cost more but will also last longer. A good solid design that lasts 25 years is sustainable in itself.
Ergonomics also play an important role. A soft sofa works well at home, but you'll fall asleep if it was in an office space. Dining chairs for many restaurants tend to be more active because you want an active eating posture not a 'sit all night long' one.
Both contract and residential markets are changing quickly to address this shift in tastes, function, and ergonomics. As a designer with over 30 years in the residential furniture market, it was easy for me to make the transition. Creating new shapes that attract the hearts and minds of the people in a duality of roles and functions is both challenging and rewarding.
Why did you choose JMS to work with?
Honestly, I planned to bring my wife to show her Portugal. As my business partner, she investigated the furniture market and liked what she saw on the JMS website so called them for an appointment. We showed up at their doorstop with a presentation. It was love at first sight.
What's next for Studio Schrofer?
My team and I are always researching new technologies, new innovations and new materials. After 3D printing, we forayed into VR presentations which will be the next generation of presenting our models to clients. Sustainable and recycled materials are also finally going from the experimental phase to scaling up for big volume production which is good news for the environment.
Click here to visit the Studio Schrofer website.