by Otto Van De Steene


all the creations I’m proud about.

Behind my design

Somehow the sublime is always indescribably there at the convergence between the bearable and unbearable.

“Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling .... When danger or pain press too nearly, they are incapable of giving any delight, and [yet] with certain modifications, they may be, and they are delightful, as we every day experience.”

Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful

This is the most beautiful description I ever read about the ‘sublime’.  It may be the clearest description of how it comes I feel so attracted by powerful nature, or of how some work feels to me to be amazingly good art, architecture or design. The sublime is not an easy feat to even achieve for a little part. And it is probably only at some moments I touched it. Merely touching a little underused process or technique sometimes opens a beautiful box of magic. This may be one of the reasons I love the design process so much.

When designing anything I tend to let allow function, material & production processes guide myself to something that can end up to stand up at its own. Allowing functionally complex shapes whilst being limited by production processes and cost is being circumvented way too many times.

Too many designs around us may be too limited by the mere limitations of the number of dimensions designers let themselves guide by. Companies and designers often seem to not have limited themselves by the processes or techniques they have learned to handle themselves, but by software processes that may have found efficiencies for the digital, but not necessarily the real world.

The certain form of pureness I strive for is a complex process to achieve. With the ONAK canoe, I succeeded to simplify the function to some bare necessary parts. By getting back to the 2D, to easier achieve excellence in the 3D, I not only solved the problem of the folding of the boat; the production process got simplified tremendously. The going back to the 2D to achieve the 3D enabled me to achieve a shape in a much tougher material than previously has been possible.  

Trough rather designing in 2D, and cutting/creasing paper-models and comparing all different kinds of materials I achieved in making the ONAK canoe design happening. During this process, I got in touch with so many materials & techniques that I not only saw more and more possibilities for the ONAK canoes appearing at my horizon.

Somehow, my ONAK studies enabled me to now take a step further for many kinds of goods. However, don’t get me wrong here. I will not limit myself here to the 2D into the 3D. I will merely embrace the particular mechanics I discovered during my ONAK design-quest, to try to enable more sublime things to happen.

Otto De Steene