Crafting Timeless Design: A Dialogue with Caine Heintzman of A-N-D

Recently, we had the pleasure of visiting Caine Heintzman, industrial designer and co-founder of A-N-D, at his studio. We sat down with Caine to discuss his inspirations, creative process, and design philosophies. The following is a conversation that delves into the intricacies of industrial de- sign and the journey of creating timeless pieces.

Arthur Chmielewski (HAVEN): Where do you draw your inspiration for your designs?

Caine Heintzman (A-N-D): Inspiration can come from a lot of places. I see things on a day-to-day basis that are inspiring. For example, when I’m traveling, I’ll encounter things that are unfamiliar to me but might be familiar to others. These everyday elements in the built environment interest me, especially things that are often overlooked. Even architectural detailing can be fascinating to me. My inspiration mainly comes from manufactured environments and systems rather than nature, although nature inspires me differently.

HAVEN: Do you think any of this derives from your personal interests growing up, like skateboarding?

Caine: Definitely. Everything a designer experiences influences their decision-making. Skateboarding, for example, changes how I view obstacles and features compared to someone who doesn’t skateboard. This perspective influences my design approach. Even while hiking, small details can catch my eye and in- spire ideas. It’s all about perspective and seeing different uses for everyday things.

HAVEN: Can you walk us through your creative process when starting a new project?

Caine: It starts with inspiration, something that sparks an idea. I take photographs of interesting things I see, whether during travel or day-to-day life. These photos serve as seeds for ideas. I then sketch these ideas in a book—not thorough engineering drawings, just enough to communicate the idea. This pro- cess is ongoing, so I have books full of ideas. When I’m ready to delve into something, I revisit these sketches and start developing them further.

The next step involves researching materials and processes, then moving on to modelling. I create rough hand models to get a sense of scale and form, and simultaneously develop 3D models on the computer. This dual approach—hands-on and digital—leads to functional prototypes.

After refining the prototype, I work with vendors to produce accurate samples. This involves detailed engineering, especially with lighting projects, where aspects like electrical components and material shape are crucial. The final stages focus on refining the product for functionality, performance, and aes- thetics. This entire process can take up to two years.

HAVEN: How do you incorporate new technology into your design process?

Caine: Technology is both exciting and frightening as it constantly changes, but from a design standpoint, I see it as a tool and an opportunity to explore and improve inefficiencies. Tried and true methods and well-vetted technologies are still valid and shouldn’t be discounted. In lighting, advancements in manufacturing processes, new materials, or electrical components, such as LEDs, are crucial. Staying on top of these advancements affects the lifespan and functionality of our products. For instance, with modern LEDs, if a component fails, it can be replaced without dismantling the entire fixture, unlike early LED lights where a single failure might mean replacing the whole unit. We design with longevity in mind, ensuring components can be replaced and the product can be serviced.

HAVEN: Do you actively think about sustainability in your designs?

Caine: Absolutely. From the beginning, we’ve aimed
to avoid trends and focus on creating timeless pieces. We design products that are built to last, both in terms of quality and aesthetic appeal. This inherently makes them more sustainable. We also focus on making products that can be repaired rather than replaced entirely. Sustainability is a big part of our conversation, from materials and recyclability to packaging and even office practices. For instance, like having a kitchen for people to make lunch instead of going out or having a coffee machine to avoid disposable cups, it all leans towards being conscious of sustainability.
We also consider the entire lifecycle of our products, from using recyclable materials to planning for responsible disposal. We’re exploring ideas like buybacks or end-of-life disposal programs, ensuring that our products have a minimal environmental impact.

HAVEN: How do you determine if something will have long-term appeal? What constitutes some- thing that can be timeless?

Caine: It’s kind of the million-dollar question. How does that happen? You need to trust your instincts and have faith in what you like. I design for myself to a degree, but that doesn’t guarantee it will be timeless or have longevity. It’s about quality, functionality, and uniqueness but there’s no exact formula. A lot of our products have a quiet quality—they’re not shouting for attention. They’re not trend-based but have an individual, honest appeal. It’s not always a home run, but we aim to create something really good that works for a long time and sometimes you get lucky.

HAVEN: How do you understand a client’s needs before starting a project?

Caine: We don’t always work directly with clients for specific projects since our products are more about broad applications. However, we consider how architects or interior designers might use our products in various environments. Feedback from clients and seeing how our products are used in real-world settings are invaluable. It helps us understand their needs and refine our designs accordingly.

HAVEN: How does balance in your life apply to your design process?

Caine: Balance is important. Being stuck in a routine can make you feel stagnant. I find it helpful to take breaks and engage in hands-on activities. Traveling for work helps, as it brings fresh perspectives but even small things like going for a walk can clear the mind and stimulate creativity. As a company owner, operational tasks take up a lot of time, but design is always in the background, and finding a balance is crucial.

HAVEN: Can you share some of your latest projects?

Caine: Right now, I’m excited about working with new materials like glass, which I haven’t used much before. For lighting, it’s essential to play with how light interacts with materials. It’s not just about designing on a computer; I need to see the actual light to validate the design. It’s a learning process, but that’s what makes it exciting.

On the other hand, modularity is a consistent theme in my work, and I’m always exploring that. My latest releases for A-N-D highlight this modular philosophy. The Vale Chandelier expands on the Vale light system I developed a few years ago. It allows designers to use connectable, low-voltage units of light tailored to their projects. The Chandelier introduces a grander, industrial centrepiece into this family. We’ve been showcasing these new products at big shows in Milan, NYC, and Copenhagen, and I’m excited to see how people respond.

HAVEN: Thanks for sharing your insights, Caine. It’s been great talking with you.

Caine: Thanks, Arthur. It was a pleasure.

Interview: Arthur Chmielewski | Editor : Samuel Gunton | Photographer : Norihisa Hayashi

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