Olivier van Herpt (1989)

The industrial machine is a black box between designers and users. It is an imaginary border dividing craft and design. The works of Olivier van Herpt, however, pry apart the machine, expanding this unit for standardised production into a platform for creative exploration.

Tinkering with digital fabrication technologies, the industrial design graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven constructs methods and means of production that meld together seemingly divergent worlds. A 3D printer that drips, instead of expels, its output, just as how stalagmites naturally form in caves. An open source extruder that anyone can freely use to 3D print objects with the more sustainable material of beeswax. These output by the Dutch designer sit at the intersection of the digital and analogue, as well as design and tools.

By pushing the limits of existing 3D printing technologies, van Herpt has arrived at machines that produce larger forms and work with materials beyond conventional plastics. Out of paraffin and even clay, he has printed collections of objects that soften the precise and indifferent definition of industrial design. Vases seemingly handwoven by the hands of individual artisans, ceramics crafted with random imperfections, and pottery shaped by the environment they were made in—these manufactured objects demonstrate how van Herpt reinserts humanity into the man-made machine.

Just as the advent of digital fabrication has democratised manufacturing for the masses, the works of van Herpt seek to reconnect design with the human touch. Drilling deep into the design process, he flattens the production chain standing between designer and user with his innovative machines that are really tools which empower making.

By opening up the industrial machine, the designs of van Herpt invites all of us to collaborate in creating a world no one of us imagined possible.

— by Justin Zhuang


2018 Dutch Design Awards, Young Designer - Winner, Dutch Design Foundation

2018 Keep an Eye Grant - Winner, Keep an Eye Foundation

2016 Beazley Designs of the Year - Nominee, Design Museum London

2016 Officine Panerai Next Generation Designer of the Year - Nominee, Wallpaper*

2016 Innovation by Design Awards - Finalist, Fast Company

2016 New Material Award - Winner, Stichting DOEN, Fonds Kwadraat and Het Nieuwe Instituut

2016 Volkskrant Design Talent - Winner, Volkskrant

2015 Keep an Eye Grant - Winner, Keep an Eye Foundation

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Olivier van Herpt portrait by Koos Breukel

Photo: Koos Breukel

Selected Exhibitions


  • Musée Ariana, Geneva, CH
  • Parcours Céramique Carougeois, Geneva, CH
  • Biennale Vallauris, Vallauris, FR
  • MAK – Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna, AT
  • Museum Jan van der Togt, Amstelveen, NL
  • Kazerne, Eindhoven, NL
  • La Triennale di Milano, Milan, IT





  • Operae, Turin, IT
  • Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, NL
  • Graduation Show DAE, Eindhoven, NL
  • Mint Gallery, London, UK
  • Krehky Gallery, Mikolov, CZ
  • Designkwartier, Den Haag, NL
  • The Green Gallery, Amsterdam, NL
  • Bienal Brasileira de Design, Florianópolis, BR
  • Transnatural, Amsterdam, NL
  • Spazio Rossana Orlandi, Milan, IT
  • Salone del Mobile DAE, Milan, IT
  • Kazerne, Eindhoven, NL
  • Noordbrabants Museum, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, NL

Public Collections

  • Musée Ariana, Geneva, CH
  • Government Art Collection, The Hague, NL
  • Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, NL
  • Museo de Arte Popular, Mexico City, MX
  • Gemeentemuseum The Hague, The Hague, NL
  • Centre Pompidou, Paris, FR
  • Grand-Hornu, Hornu, BE
  • Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Paris, FR
  • Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, NL
  • Princessehof, Leeuwarden, NL
  • Metropolitan University Special Collections, Manchester, UK