About Albert Potgieter

Albert Potgieter Designs was started on the dream to make a difference. To use art and design and creativity to uplift people. To get people off the streets or bad situations into the business and teach them, mentor them and give them a skill and most of all to give back. This is what the business or vision or goal is all about. Every piece that is designed or created is aimed to reach this goal. Albert Potgieter was a Physiotherapist, but started the business in Furniture design to give back to those that haven’t been given the opportunities that he has. Albert Potgieter regards what he achieves not as important, but what is important, is the why behind the what. The ‘why’ that drives the business to do better, to reach for more and to keep fighting.

Interview with Albert Potgieter

Albert Potgieter ("AP") interviewed on Monday, 16 May.

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?

AP : I started my own business in furniture making and designing in 2017 and I have been making functional art designs since 2019. My experience as an artist and creator started in 2017 when I started my business, but only really picked up in 2019 with the Optique Bench. Before that I was a Physiotherapist in South Africa.

How did you become a designer?

AP : I originally became a designer in 2017 because of a dream that God put in my heart to use design and craft to get people that need a second chance into the business and teach them and mentor them. Using my designs to reach people. So I started my business in 2017 without any experience or tools but only a dream in my heart, but it was only in 2019 that I started designing good Functional Art pieces.

What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?

AP : I would definitely draw pictures or design concepts or ideas first, bu I prioritize more the building process and would often start it earlier than later. This is where I can see and feel the wood and the art piece often takes shape the best during this process.

Which emotions do you feel when designing?

AP : A whole spectrum of emotions. Most often Joy as I like the process. But sometimes also frustration, doubts, gladness, then frustration again, but its definetly over shadowed by joy

What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?

AP : O wow every part of it. Don’t under estimate the process. I have come to realize in life that the most important thing you can do is invest in your character, as this will affect everything that your hands touches. There is no shortcuts in life that lasts. Probably the biggest skill to have as a designer is endurance and grit to never give up and keep trying new things. Keep taking those small steps, you don’t know where it will lead. The other important skill to have is putting people first. Having a community around you is most important. We were designed to be in community.

What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?

AP : For the business I want to grow it into a place where I can get many people into the business and teach them and mentor them while we make exquisite designs. The next step now is to prepare for Milan Design week in June 2022. Then I would love to collaborate more with other companies as a designer to learn more from different industries and gain a network and then grow the business from there. My call for this business is bigger than myself and want to grow this business so that it can have an impact in peoples lives.

What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?

AP : Don’t try to skip over small beginnings. Lay your foundations well. Do every thing your hands touch with excellence and then take one step at a time. Always keep your dream in your mind while continually taking that next step. And just start. Most people have great ideas that never the the light because it just stays an idea.

You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?

AP : Work the hardest on your own character. This affects everything you do. And then have joy in the process. Every step in the process is important, even the frustrating days. You need to go through it, so keep going. Creativity isn’t something that can be forced, create space to enjoy.

What is your day to day look like?

AP : I usually start my day with a coffee and planning session. Writing everything that needs to be done on a white board in my workshop. Then I would jump right into it, either building prototype, custom design or sitting in the office designing something new. This changes everyday. I like to make a good coffee in the morning while thinking of the day and also after lunch before jumping back into it.

How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?

AP : There is a place to follow trends. To look at the facts of what people like, but at the same time I also try to stick to my style of designing.

How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?

AP : Everyone will have a different idea about good design. I think the eyes has the biggest influence in this decision, but a design also had to be practical and achieve the goal of the design, not just look good. However the first impression is always the look of a design

How do you decide if your design is ready?

AP : It’s is probably in a feeling. It sits well with me. If a design is not done yet it will feel off when I look at it, it’s often difficult to point to the thing that needs to change, I have to go look for it, but it just feels not done.

What is your biggest design work?

AP : I am the proudest of the Optique Bench. It is the start a whole new world of designs for me. Even if it’s not my best seller, it still feels like its the greatest success.

Who is your favourite designer?

AP : I like the work of Angelo Mangiorotti, Pierre Chapo, Arno de Clercq to name a few. Most iconic designer and the one I would probably want to talk to is Michelangelo.

Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?

AP : Favorite city - Budapest. Music is definitely a part of the process, I am always listening to music, but it is a wide range of music from classic to modern country. Fridays is country day at work :) Currently I am in Rotterdam working on a new Optique Dining chair and a Urithi lounge chair Culture probably does have an effect on my designs but I think it will probably be deeper. I think that what I spend my days with, habits etc will have a bigger effect

Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?

AP : Yes I think it is easy to work with me or for me. I love people and to teach people. I do work alone mostly but I always try to surround myself with a community of people that supports or speaks into my designs, work and life. When hiring or partnering with people, character is more important than skills. Skills can be learnt. When talking about culture in myself or business, I try to create a place of excellence, integrity and people focused.

What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?

AP : My whole business was started to be able to give back, This is still very small and at the start, but I mentor and teach people while we design and create, I try to teach designing and making. I give back a portion of the business’ profits to charities and I give to a organization that plants trees with every design I sell.

What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?

AP : I think the main contribution will be the networking potential it might have and the boost it will give in exposure. It is also however good to see if my designs are good or if it needs improvement. How it rates in a sense. Also it challenged me a lot on how to describe my designs and put into words what the designs are saying.

Albert Potgieter Profile

Moja Coffee Table

Moja Coffee Table design by Albert Potgieter

Optique Bench

Optique Bench design by Albert Potgieter


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