Alex Proba – maybe you’ve heard of her Poster a Day series – is a graphic designer, art director and illustrator, currently based in New York. Colourful, geometric and playful are words that come to mind when looking at her work, including carpets, branding and logo’s and free work (with a nice combo with Studio Specht as well!).
1. How would you describe what you do?
I am a designer, illustrator and art director. I’m originally from Lüdenscheid, Germany. I went to the Akademie Mode und Design in Hamburg, Germany, where I studied Spatial and Graphic Design. I attended my graduate school at the Design Academy in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, where I focused on Product and Furniture Design. In 2011 I moved to New York where I still work as an Art Director at Kickstarter, but I’m about to change jobs. At the end of the month I’m joining Mother as a Design Director. On night times and weekends, I run my own studio Studio Proba. Prior to my jump into the startup world, I gathered experience at architecture and product design studios in New York, Berlin and Eindhoven.
2. At what time do you start your day and what’s the thing you do first?
I am not a morning person but I am of trying to change that. My boyfriend is usually my alarm clock, which is very selfish, and he also prepares breakfast for the two of us. So all I have to do is crawl out of bed and have coffee, fruit and a bowl of yoghurt is waiting for me. I am a lucky one, so thank you Simon! Oh, and on weekends I usually start the day with working out.
3. What is the reason you started doing what you do? What makes you so passionate about it?
I studied as an exchange student in Ohio—I learned to appreciate art and craft more than other time in my life. I started drawing, painting and experimenting with materials and objects. I felt something special when creating. After I came back home to Germany, I didn’t stop creating.
My parents thought of my newfound creativity as a hobby but I didn’t. When it was time to decide on a career, I initially chose the expected route to become a doctor. That decision was quickly dismissed and I started to explore the world of Spatial and Graphic design as well as product and furniture. Now I feel incredibly fortunate to have chosen the path that’s right for me and that fulfills me each an every day. All I want to do is create and make things. I feel very lucky to be able to do that.
4. What or who is your source of inspiration?
Daily life. It’s the small things in life.
5. Which is your all time favorite design?
Ettore Sottsass’ Carlton room divider, 1981.
6. Do you think you’ll keep walking down this path in the future or do you have other
My dream is to continue doing what I do and continue to love it as much as I do now. I also have another little dream. I would love to own, live and work in a five-story building in New York or Berlin, where each floor represents a different craft—from architecture, to furniture, to graphic design, to pottery.
7. Which piece of work would you consider your very own masterpiece?
I’m most proud of my collaboration with Aelfie which has just launched in April at Cooper Hewitt in New York City. I started exploring ways to bring product design and tactility to my almost 2 year long “A Poster A Day” project. Rugs were a logical step to transform 2D posters into a 3D scape, where they can be hung on the wall but also used as a daily object on the floor. I stumbled upon Aelfie and Aelfie stumbled upon me by seeing works of each other exhibited in Brooklyn. In the Summer of 2014 we started talking about collaboration. Together, we brought international flavour paired with technical savviness to their design process. The rugs are inspired by Kurdish mixed technique weavings and mid century surface design. Aelfie x Studio Proba rugs are flat woven with hand knotted details. There are 5 unique designs, limited edition of 3 each.
8. If you had a time machine in what year would you be living?
New York City, 1960s
9. Cookies and milk or chips and soda?
CHIPS (and fries).
10. If you could give yourself one single piece of advice before you started this adventure, what would it be?
Never ever get comfortable.