A chat with Alex Proba
Who is Alex Proba?
Founded in 2013 by Alex Proba, Studio Proba is a Portland & Brooklyn-based design studio focusing on brand design, art direction, product design, illustration and murals. Alex Proba’s multidisciplinary practice evokes a reverence for life’s quiet moments. Using her surroundings as the main source of inspiration in her work, she draws from sensory and visual information to intimate the experience of finding beauty and joy in unexpected places.
Proba applies the same processes to her mural work, bringing life and energy to walls and buildings, as she considers all angles and sides equally. Her first mural project, a 60-foot long piece for Dropbox's headquarters in New York, propelled her practice into new realms. Recently, she’s extended her mural practice onto unexpected surfaces, like the bottoms of pools and collections of tile.
Born in Germany, Proba spent countless hours in her grandmother’s vibrant garden, a landscape by which she was indelibly formed and inspired. She went on to study Spatial Design at Akademie Mode und Design in Hamburg, Germany, and Contextual Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven, Netherlands.
Since 2008, Proba has been living in both New York and Portland, OR, working in architecture for StudioMDA, and brand design at General Assembly, Kickstarter, Nike, and Mother New York. She began running StudioProba & ProbaHome in parallel to her full time work in 2013. Her clients include Louis Vuitton, Design Miami, Nike, Google, Miami Design District, Marrow & Fine, CC-Tapis, Vogue Italia, Samsung, Lulu Lemon,Target, Dropbox, Harry’s, Madewell, Rag & Bone among many others.
Proba has been recognized by Print Magazine for its annual New Visual Artists Review, selecting 20 international designers under the age of 30. She was recently selected by Louis Vuitton to be a part of their 200 visionaries project “200 trunks, 200 Visionaries” and commissioned to create a sculptural trunk that then was shown around the globe.
Some of her favorite and most adventurous projects include the Marrow House Pool, Palm Springs; Life In Vogue 2019 Installation; the Google Basketball Court; and her public sculpture installation for Design Miami and the Miami Design District in 2021.
What does inspire you?
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 not be inspired from other visuals then what the everyday gives us. It can be sounds, smells as well as memories. Sometimes all I need is a phone call with my grandmother to get my creative flow going. My grandmother might actually be my biggest inspiration, who fled communist Poland and her career as a florist, but never lost her love of horticulture. My grandmother maintained an elaborate garden where we spent many afternoons painting as a child; these formative experiences influenced my choice to become an artist and designer. Most of my work is inflected with memories of moments we spent together - the pattern she wore, the garden she tended, the meals she cooked.
You moved from Germany to the Netherland to finally end up in New York, what did you bring with you from each country?
I’ve moved to New York City almost 12 years ago now after coming from studying in the Netherlands and I was actually very clueless about contemporary American design and what it means. I’ve learned that and experienced that american design takes itself less serious than european design (or the design I grew up with) and let’s you be a bit more playful and have a wink. So I would say I get the best of both worlds ;)
What is your biggest passion, beside design?
My dog Sam.
Why did you choose to work with Vero?
Ever since Vero launched 2 years ago I was amazed by the products they brought out — a perfect mix of Italian tradition and craftsmanship paired with a super modern and unique way to look at products and furniture. The furniture pieces are not only design icons but also art in themselves. I was directly drawn into their world.