IN CONVERSATION WITH FLORIS HOVERS
We first encountered Floris’s products in a design publication that came out a few years ago. For us, it was love at first sight. After following his work for sometime, we reached out to him for a collaboration. That one email eventually led to the creation of ‘Fold Motors’.
In our conversation with Floris, he shares some endearing and insightful anecdotes from his life.
Floris at his work desk
It is fascinating that in a world where everyone is moving towards more technology and complexity, you have retained a design approach that is so fresh and childlike. How do you sustain this feeling in your work?
At first instance, it’s because I like toys and hate to be a grown-up. I also happen to be the father of four children. The products I design are not only special for children but also for grown-ups who have forgotten that they were once children. You can also see my work as a little antidote to the, in my opinion, rapid development of technology and robotisation. We have to stay human!
Playing is a form of freedom. Freedom is good for you to be able to develop and discover new ways. And personally, I think it allows you to 'disappear' for a moment. Today, for me, playing means to bring a child’s world back into an adult’s, in a manner that others recognise as well.
We have read in your book that you like to wander and this helps you see things afresh. Can you tell us some more about this?
Wandering can happen anywhere. I like the countryside around me the most, as well as Belgium, France and Eastern Europe. But I wouldn’t say that I’m a traveller. I generally love to be at home or in my workshop.
I also wander in my own workshop. Wandering around is not always literal. Reading, looking at photos, watching documentaries and listening to music are all forms of this.
In addition to being a designer and an artist, I also play the violin. I am the conductor of a children's choir, I also sing in a choir and with my 4 children, these activities take me to very diverse places that can inspire and make life more interesting. I do not have pictures of these places.
A lot of your design craft is around making things. You also have a workshop of your own. Can you tell us how do you start thinking of design?
I do not start before designing it in my head. Before the superfluous evaporates. I then make sketches and little models, draw again and make again. The last part is usually quick because the most important choices are already made in my head.
What’s your day like? Once you wake up?
I am an evening person and find it very difficult to wake up. Fortunately, my wife is not. At 7.45 am, I go to the workshop and then go back home to take my children to school. The days are often different and I have no fixed pattern of work. It constantly shifts between making, appointing, drawing, colour searching, communication, cleaning / cleaning up, photography, designing and making autonomous work. At noon, I have lunch with my family and take the children back to school. I then work until 5.30 pm, work in the evening again or make music. Sitting still is difficult for me.
Where do you work from?
I alternate between working behind my desk or in the workshop.
Floris playing with the cars and trucks of Fold Motors
What are the 5 products that you treasure the most and why?
1. My two violins. One is my grandfather’s violin and the other that I bought from some special people.
2. A screwdriver set that can be put together as Babushka dolls. It was a gift that I got from my father, which he got from his father. It’s very nicely made out of brass and steel.
3. A miniature circus tent that my parents made for me when I was 10 years old. I had all of the French circus miniatures but the tent was missing. So my elders decided to make one out of fabric, rubber bands and wood. There was even lighting in the tent.
4. My Citroën BX, a real French car that I have been in love with for years. Beautiful design and great driving characteristics. She's from the eighties.
5. The first Archetoy that I ever made. I had an insight that I could turn my fascination into a product that matters and which can then turn into a series.
What would be your dream product?
I don’t have a special dream product that I want to design in the future. Things must arise naturally. I hope that my work continues to be appreciated and understood. An important thing is that I can grow as a designer and still translate my personal fascinations into a general form for a large public.
You mention in your book about memories playing an important role in your designs. Can you tell us what you mean by this?
I was born in the 70s and grew up in that time. I had a fantastic childhood and still cherish it intensely. The 70s and 80s are a huge source of inspiration for me.
The environment I grew up in serves as a constant source of inspiration. My father’s concrete production plant with all its machinery and cranes, the farms, the tractors and trailers used by the water council for maintenance to the polders, the sand pits, the nearby motorway and the River Donge are all pivotal and influential.
As a child, I would imitate things and interpret them in my own manner. If there was a boat dredging along the river close to my home, I would act that out in the evening on a wooden pallet in a large puddle, with a shovel.