Survey the typical 2007 apartment: Ikea couch? Check. Assemble-it-yourself generic coffee table? Check. Van Gogh’s Starry Night? Ugh, check. If you’re like most of the population, you’re home has been consumed by mass production. So where do you turn for function and form? Based in Germany, Lars Amhoff’s Kinkyform brings independent furniture design and creative innovation to the masses without jumping on the mass-production band wagon. Leading us away from common, cheaply made furniture, Lars employs some sick artists to keep his minimalist pieces unique. And to ensure your place doesn’t look like your neighbor’s, Lars releases his designs as limited editions. As he put it: “You are not different or cool with tons of Ikea crap in your place. But since being different is pricey, it’s hard to achieve that goal.” Lars explains what he’s started with Kinkyform, and why affordable quality—not quantity—still rules.

“Today there are many companies throwing random artwork on all kinds of products. I always try to create something which looks like the artwork is supposed to be on it.”

Format: Some of our readers may not be aware of Kinkyform, so tell us about what you do.
Lars: Kinkyform is an art and design brand focused on furniture and now going into other directions like jewelry, etc. Kinkyform melts artwork with furniture design by applying artwork directly onto the furniture and designing the furniture in direct contact with the illustrators to create what I call “usable art.” I collaborate with great artists to achieve that goal.

Format: Your pieces have intricate patterns and designs, but appear simple and functional. How do you select materials that will emphasize this?
Lars: I like wood a lot because you can work on simple pieces but they will never be as clean as [artificial material-pieces] because [wood] is a living material. In the future I will use other materials. Glass is wonderful. You can touch it but you can look through it and in itself it’s always moving, like a ghost. Glass is so simple and clean, hard but still breakable. I also like working with stainless steel, you can design something amazingly simple and it will look like nothing on the paper, but when you hold it in your hands as a stainless steel object it’s totally different.


Format: What else do you consider when selecting materials?
Lars: I always have an eye on the quality aspect. I want my product to be high quality and you can’t achieve that with some cheap fake wood or plastic painted like metal. Kinkyform products are forever! I always build prototypes and test my pieces and the materials.

Format: Chuck Anderson, or No Pattern, who worked with you on Kinkyform’s new Lazer stools, is a self-taught graphic designer from Chicago. He’s gotten some pretty serious buzz around him lately, what’s it like working with him?
Lars: He’s a cool guy. It’s fun to work with him. I’m a big fan of his work and he can do nearly everything. I’m happy with it and I think it’s the other way around, too. It’s great to see his success and I hope he will grow more and more.

Format: Do you think there’s a freedom self-taught artists have as opposed to those who are classically trained?
Lars: I think self-taught artists like Chuck have lots of experience in the industry because they get directly confronted with it from the start. If you work hard to stand on your own feet you always have good chances of get amazing jobs or pushing your own company.

“All the street wear brands with their small shirt collections are growing bigger and bigger… Same with the vinyl toys, kicks, etc. I hope that will happen to the furniture guys like me, too.”

Format: You went to school for product design. Did your educational background shape your work today?
Lars: I think my work today is totally different than the things I did back in school. I grew a lot in the years after it–especially working in a furniture design company, which shaped my way of thinking about materials and production. Even in the last eight monhs, after the “official” launch of Kinkyform my style has changed. It’s a steady process.

Format: Justin Hethcoat of Faceless Designs, who also worked on a Lazer stool, mentioned his brief education in graphic design was more of a hindrance than a help when it came to developing his style. Can you relate to this?
Lars: He is totally right. You are lucky if you are in a school which gives you enough freedom to enfold your style. I mean you still have to learn how to get the right composition in a picture or an ad, but teachers should not hold you back when it comes to your own style. I’ve had a lot of bad experiences when it comes to that.


Format: How essential is collaboration in your industry?
Lars: It’s important because you get pulled out of your way of thinking about the projects you are working on. It’s good to hear feedback from non product designers and it’s also fun to introduce the illustrator to different kinds of manufacturing techniques and show him fresh ways to display his work. You learn a lot.

Format: What do you think, in regards to collaboration makes Kinkyform stand out?
Lars: Today there are many companies throwing random artwork on all kinds of products. I always try to create something which looks like the artwork is supposed to be on it, not just printed on it or laser etched in it. The illustrator is always in my process of designing the furniture for the collab. I want the illustrator to be as happy with the piece as I am. Plus the collaboration partner is always represented on the piece with signature or logo.

Format: How does Chuck’s design-style differ from Justin’s?
Lars: I think Justin’s artwork is more detailed. You always find things in his sketches you don’t expect to find. I’m surprised and impressed every time I see his new artwork. They are both great artists and both of their artwork has its unique style. Don’t get me wrong, Chuck’s artwork is detailed too. Justin’s lines are thinner and he used totally different shapes and images in his sketches for example. Both of their styles suit the stools perfectly.

“Since I’m going into jewelry and accessories, it would be really great to work with Bijules…I mean come on, knives on necklaces and Samurai swords on your ears? That is amazing!”

Format: Any artists you’re dying to work with?
Lars: I’d love to work with Audrey Kawasaki one day. I think her work is really amazing. And since I’m going into jewelry and accessories, it would be really great to work with Bijules. But I think I am too afraid to ask them.

Format: We just talked to Jules Kim from Bijules last month, you can always use Format as an ice breaker. What about her work attracts you?
Lars: Her work is really unique. To me it’s jewelry in a new light. I mean come on, knives on necklaces and Samurai swords on your ears? That is amazing! Every time I see new stuff I just love it. Best jeweler out there.

Format: You’re in Germany right now. How does “usable art” overseas compare with the pieces you’ve seen in the United States?
Lars: I haven’t seen much cool stuff in Germany to be honest. I think the U.S. is more open for that kind of furniture or art. I haven’t gotten much feedback from Germany either. The scene here is too small to draw much attention. I’ve seen lots of good, young furniture designers in the U.S. You get pushed a lot more in the U.S. as opposed to Germany, that means young people with fresh ideas get known a lot faster and also get respected for the things they do. It’s all about stiff and serious industrial design here. You have to be 50 and have four Master degrees to get the right respect from people.


Format: Is there any industry where you’ve seen a push toward creative design as opposed to generic, mass production?
Lars: All the streetwear brands with their small shirt collections are growing bigger and bigger. Tees are sold out on the day of their release and people stay up till 4 at night to buy a shirt! Same with the vinyl toys, kicks, etc. I hope that will happen to the furniture guys like me, too.

Format: You guys have Kinkyform t-shirts and shoes, too. T-Shirts that sell out, yes?
Lars: Yep, there are Kinkyform T-shirts. I release a design like two times a year and they sell out really quickly. I’m a shirt junkie myself and I love to release my own. There will be a new limited edition tee coming out in a few weeks, I hope people will like it.

Format: Did you make the shirts limited edition on purpose, or was their success just a surprise?
Lars: I would say both! I planned not to release that many because I wasn’t sure if I could sell all of them, but when I released them they were sold out before I could even throw them up in my store. I still want to keep the amount of shirts small to keep it more exclusive, but a 100 shirts worldwide is exclusive, right? I don’t like seeing people with a shirt I have and that’s what I want to provide to my customers, being the only one in their city or state with that shirt.

Format: What is your ultimate goal for Kinkyform at this point?
Lars: At the moment I’m going into more directions than furniture design because I’m really interested in expanding my horizons. So there will be lots of unexpected stuff in the near future.

“Kinkyform is forever!”

Auriane de Rudder

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  1. Lars is everywhere, dope designs & dope concepts very hard to get the two together…much much props homey


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