PS Tell me about the progression of your practice since the inception of Crosby Studios.
HN I am currently developing my vision deeper and wider, as I always have. I’ve never changed my direction. One thing that I always focus on as I start a new project, is I begin with the name of the type of style. At the moment, I’ve landed on transformism, which is coming from transformation. I decided to invent my own word for this, as nothing else fulfills my style. This is because the design I create transmits from one thing to another. I work with form and the design transforms something from one form to another. For my practice, I’m all about looking around and thinking about what I see. I think we’re in this era now where we really have so much. And as a designer, you have to understand what you’re going to do with this, how we’re going to manage the content that already exists…
PS Is language really important?
HN I think it’s the only thing that is important. You have to develop your own. Otherwise, if your language isn’t clearly defined enough, it will just get lost along with the millions of other voices. This is something that I focus on in particular in lectures that I give to university master students. Speaking with these young, talented, ambitious people, I always talk about defining one’s language. It’s very important.
PS What was the impetus for your move to Paris?
HN It’s very nice to work with and live next to your community, you know, the people that shape your industry. Spending time closely together, we’re able to think of very organic things to do. We still have our studio in New York, so we’re really living between the two cities — well actually, we’re split three ways really, between the two and California. Right now I think Paris is just the right place to be. All the energy is there. At the end of the day, you want to create something special and have a nice conversation; you want to be part of something big. There may be other location options, but right now, it seems to me that the only one is Paris.
PS You stated previously: “There is a renaissance within the design world right now. So many objects and subjects will need to be redesigned, from our workplace to rethinking and redesigning our shopping experience. It is a big and important time for designers across the world.” Can you expand on this?
HN I think the fashion in the ’60s and ’70s was only available for certain people, and only later did it become more accessible to everyone else. More people started to pay attention. Now it’s a whole thing. It’s all about how everyone can communicate with their outfits and their style. That’s where we are currently. We have access to the world’s most beautiful art industries, art outputs. The same thing happened in design; traditional marketing and the good quality of the product is not enough anymore for brands. So they want a different kind of exposure; they want some kind of special placement. You cannot imagine your product without the space around it, the design around it, all the things that really help to give it context. It’s a very strong vehicle for any brand. And that’s why I called it a renaissance, because design was always number three — art was one and fashion, two. The same thing is happening now with design as fashion in the 60’s. And now it’s coming up I think. Many artists want to be designers, like other designers used to want to be artists. think it’s time to touch on interiors, the tools, the wallpaper, how they make everything. It’s not about being cozy and comfy anymore, it’s about this sort of movement, the community, the people; that’s what it’s about now. There’s nothing to do with wallpaper, comfort, coziness, colors, textures, and all of these old-school things that aren’t really shaping this new thing. They’re still important, but only on a technical level. They’re not going to help benefit a brand. And there you go. Sometimes you have very uncomfortable high-heeled shoes and you wear them over your comfortable sneakers. These are the choices people are making now. That’s what we call the renaissance of design.
“I’ve landed on transformism. I decided to invent my own word for this as nothing else fulfills my style. This is because the design I create transmits from one thing to another.”
PS Artists can be so influential in pioneering new practices. Sustainability, using waste as raw material for design… What do you think the future of circular design should entail? Do you see a radical shift anytime soon?
HN I don’t think it’s in the future; it has already happened. It’s very much present. Everyone’s no longer just talking about it; it’s our current reality, a standard that no one can deny. For me, it is important. I have an initial instinct to do something in this space, like every other artist who has touched this area, because we were thinking about it as an example to show others — not in order to shame anyone, but to show them the way. Not all of the time are we just thinking about new shapes and new forms, sometimes as a designer you have to rethink these foundational aspects. At the end of each year we usually sit down and think about what we did the past year. Looking back, we can then project into the future. That’s how it works. You can’t only do one exercise over and over. That just won’t work. So yeah, it’s the reality. I think we’ve already embraced it. Those who haven’t, they obviously should.
PS You’ve been exploring Web3 in different ways: Web-3 Cafe with Gaia Repossi, Crosby Studios Video Game… Can you tell me more about your place in the metaverse and about these projects individually?
HN We did a lot of digital projects before it became a thing. We have done so many for example we did a collaboration with Nike NYC where I created a digital sofa for users to interact with using their avatar. This was a very innovative project at the time. Now there’s the special platform, the special word for it, which is Web3. For us, it’s a new dimension. There is no specific meaning for Web3; it’s just a new opportunity to explore your ideas and your world. For me, as long as it’s healthy for people and as long as it is aligned with broadcasting in my world, it works for me. Gaia’s my friend and we’re also neighbors in Paris. So she supports me there. She co-hosted the cafe project. This project was beautiful; we first created the virtual world, and then we recreated it in the physical world. And we let people interact with the two without any gadgets. And there was a video game that we designed in one of the rooms…
Read the full interview on Muse September Issue 60.