Dutch designer Michiel Cornelissen just opened MCHL, an independent design store with innovative products from housewares to jewelry and electronics accessories, in Utrecht in the Netherlands. As it might be the only design store of its kind in the world where the majority of the collection is 3D printed I asked Michiel more about launching a retail store and how 3D printing is powering his business.
Tell us a little about your boutique MCHL. What can shoppers expect to find there?
MCHL is a design shop which has items in all the categories you’d expect: small furniture pieces, interior items and jewellery. What sets it apart is that most items there are made using ‘democratic’ production technologies such as 3d printing; and I always try to use that to my advantage, putting little innovations in just about every design that’s in the shop. And I think you’ll see my love of pattern and structure coming back in many of the products on offer.
You already sell your designs all around the world at places like MoMA designs store in New York and Japan, the Tate Modern in London and Centre Pompidou in Paris. What inspired you to open a freestanding boutique? How do you hope the boutique will help your design business evolve?
I’m extremely lucky to have encountered people and brands that have helped me reach a worldwide public with some of my products – a dream come true. Shapeways itself is a great, innovative channel, where I’m happy to have a presence. But there were always so many ideas that somehow still couldn’t get out there; for instance, products that combine 3D printing with other, non standard materials; and some products are simply too expensive for wholesale margins, but work perfectly well when I sell them directly. In MCHL, we can bring all those products together and offer them in an environment that we can design exactly like we would like it to be; hopefully offering a truly wonderful shopping experience to our customers.
Also, it’s a really good experience for me to be in such direct contact with customers; seeing what works, and perhaps what doesn’t. We’ve also noticed that having a physical presence in the city is a great way to get to know people, some of whom are even turning into either clients or suppliers.
How has 3D printing helped you grow your design business? What opportunities do you think 3D printing offers to independent business owners such as yourself?
Although I happily work with clients totally outside of the 3D printing arena, I can safely say that 3D printing is becoming very much intertwined with my business. There’s my own work in 3D printing, such as what you can find in MCHL, but I also help companies research what 3D printing can mean for them. And I’m working on product design and creative direction for a well-known 3D printing manufacturer now – a perfect match for my interests.
In general, one important aspect of 3D printing is that it’s lowering barriers for the production of physical objects – which has enabled me to open my shop, but it also puts the creation of great, innovative products in reach of many more people then before.
What’s next for MCHL?
Because design, production and sales are so closely linked now, it seems like there’s something new in MCHL every week, and we’re definitely trying to keep that up. Beyond that, there are plans, but some are rather wild and far off – so it’s probably best to keep them to myself for now.