Meet founder and designer of WOHOOD, Ralf Frickel (Netherlands, 1976). In “10 questions with...” Ralf talks about his background, his personal motivations and his ambitions with Wohood.
When did you decide to become a designer?
I'm a real late bloomer. After 5 jobs in 6 years, I realized I had to change direction dramatically. So at the age of 29 I went back to school. A bold, but ultimately the right choice. After 5 years I graduated from the renowned Design Academy in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Finally, I was able to do what I really wanted: make a living being creative.
Where does your creativity come from?
My parents. My dad worked until his retirement as a restorator of historic buildings. While my mum creates the most beautiful centerpieces out of simple accessories and flowers. I truly appreciate when beautiful things are made with minimal resources.
Who is your main inspiration?
Inspiration comes from everywhere, often during everyday moments. A walk through the city, a look from my daughter or just a good conversation. Watch and listen consciously and inspiration comes naturally.
In your opinion, what makes a good design?
A good design is always meaningful and excels in simplicity. Too often I see everyday object that just want to be beautiful. For me, that's art, not design.
How did it all start with WOHOOD?
I founded WOHOOD in 2013, together with former classmate Xander Abbink. We wanted to show it is still possible to design, develop and produce handmade designer products locally. That mission has been accomplished! Meanwhile, Xander successfully forged a new path as a graphic and product designer.
What are the most important lessons learned during WOHOOD's startup phase?
Well, where to start? As said before by many others, the idea is only 5% of the work, at best. Developing prototypes, finding the right suppliers, contacting the best retailers and finally bringing your product to the market... It's a long journey from idea to customer!
I have learned a lot during my time at the Design Academy, but the most important lessons learned came from my encounters with other designers, manufacturers, craftsmen, architects, retailers, customers and more. There's something to learn from every person you encounter.
How do we see your personality reflected in your work for WOHOOD?
First of all there is my love for materials with character. For me, the best looking materials are not too perfect. It's that small knot or coarse grain that makes the product. It's what I call successful imperfection.
WOHOOD's products are always modest and sober in design. All natural, no frills. Words that characterize me as well.
What distinguishes you as a designer?
I am not the kind of designer you only will find behind a drawing board. I also make real prototypes. During the design process I am always busy visiting workshops and manufacturers. I want to see, hear and feel how a product is made. That's how an idea comes to life.
What do you like most about working at WOHOOD?
It's such a cliché, but it's the great response we get from our customers. I am still thrilled by the idea that our products make people smile.
Where do you see WOHOOD in 5 years?
This is just the beginning. For WOHOOD, I want to create a product line with meaningful goods for everyday use. Also large products or furniture that make life at home or at the office just a little easier. Exactly in line with our motto Meaningful goods for thoughtful people.
"Written by Sarah. Sarah is a freelance writer with a passion for living and interior. She loves running and is currently training for her first marathon. Apart from writing and running, Sarah is an avid wildlife photographer."