Alex Proba

Can you tell us where are you originally from and a bit about your journey?
I am from Germany, from a family of doctors. When I was about sixteen years old, I studied as an exchange student in Ohio where I learned to appreciate art and craft more than at any 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 couldn’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 chose the expected route: to become a doctor and attend medical school. Very quickly I realized that medicine wasn’t the path I wanted to take, so I followed my heart and applied for design school in Hamburg, Germany. It all came together from there. It was the best decision I’ve made.

I studied Spatial Design during undergrad, which was a mix of architecture and graphic design, and then studied Contextual Design (furniture & product) at the Design Academy Eindhoven.

Describe a typical day in the studio for you.
My daily routine is to check on family and then go on a small hike with my pup Sam. I try to work on one thing a day that I just want to do for no reason.

Where do you find your day-to-day inspiration?
I love materials, from researching their properties, to touching and seeing them. In general, it isn’t necessarily visual inspiration that brings out an idea in me; it can be far more abstract than that. I am first and foremost a visual designer/artist and all my creations are supposed to evoke an emotion. My work is a celebration of color and pattern, which I would see as a positive stimulation of the senses.

That said, I do try to be inspired by more than the visuals of the everyday, such as sounds or smells, or even memories.

How do you choose your materials?
I apply spatial thinking and knowledge when translating a design from one medium to another. There are certain things I’ve learned over time, so at this point it really comes naturally to me. I know it sounds crazy, but I think some people are good in math and some are not. I am definitely not, but when it comes to materials and color I think I am alright. :)
How has your work developed in the past few years, and how do you see it evolving in the future?
This is a very tricky question. I am mostly scared of not being relevant at some point and therefore I try to create and evolve every single day. I try to keep pushing, never stopping, to make something new and surprising.
My work is a celebration of color and pattern, which I would see as a positive stimulation of the senses. — Alex Proba
You have a multidisciplinary practice that includes design and fine art. How does one inform the other?
I think that even though I “do it all”, from graphics and art to furniture and product, it all comes from the same place. My form of expression translated to different mediums. I try to do things that make me happy and that might make someone else happy as well.
Who would you like to collaborate with?
Faye Toogood.
Do you remember the first work of art that captured your attention?
When MoMA had a pop-up space at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 2004, I remember going with my mom and seeing Agnes Martin’s Red Bird and being very confused by it - almost shocked. That was when I realized that art can be whatever YOU want it to be.

What’s one of your favorite objects you own? What’s the story?
A necklace with a small heart. My grandparents gave it to me when I was born. They melted their wedding bands and made necklaces out of them for the 4 grandchildren, including one for me.
Is there any artwork on display in your home/studio? If so, which artists do you collect work by?
I’m trying to get better at collecting art from my friends and people whose work I admire. I have some pieces from Robbie Frankel (Balefireglass), as well as a Cody Hoyt, Lindsay Kennedy, Pat Kim, Marie Bernard and Jenny McGee. But I am really trying on acquiring more. Really want a work from Scott Sueme ;).
Are you influenced by any author or non-visual artist? Are you influenced by any artist that does something completely different than you?
My grandmother. She used to be a florist and is the one person in my family who had an eye for beautiful and coordinated things. She not only taught me to cook, but how to look at the world and to celebrate colors, spaces, plants and much more. She taught me how to celebrate beauty, even in the ordinary things.

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