Mind-bending designs made from simple materials are why Studio Spion is being put on the map. Based out of Los Angeles, the studio has been injecting new life into the contemporary furniture scene. We caught up with the head and founder, Balazs Titkos, to get inside the mind of one of furniture design’s hottest creators.
The Name’s Titkos, Balazs Titkos
“I’ve always been interested in style and architecture,” says Balazs. Growing up in Hungary around a subculture heavily infused by skateboarding, art, music, fashion, and design. Balazs credits his peers as the main reason he is designing today. “I was lucky enough to constantly be around extremely talented people engulfed in the art world.”
Known to his grade school teachers as “Secret Agent”, a nickname born from his surname “Titkos” – which means “secret” – Balazs moved to Budapest to start his career over 20 years ago, at a high-end interior design studio. The studio worked on design and manufacture for local interior architect firms. It was here where he cut his teeth on the ins and outs of not only furniture design but also how to operate a successful business. “[It] helped me develop enormously as a designer.”
From there Balazs moved to Amsterdam, where he took his passion for furniture and pursued it full-time. Here, Balazs further honed his craft and became a master of his trade. He reminices how he often found tranquillity in the process of creating unique designs from sketch to completion.
With his years of training and experience in both design and business, Balazs moved to Los Angeles to pursue the American dream and open his own studio – Studio Spion. “Spion” came from the French word for “spy” or “agent”, harkening back to Balazs grade school nickname – and Balazs found the word could represent himself and his studio. Since its inception in late 2020, Studio Spion has been on the up-and-up, finding worldwide success with clients across the USA, Asia, and Europe.
Studio Spion has made a splash with its furniture which isn’t afraid to challenge conventions of how furniture can be designed. From their unusual geometric shapes to their beautiful color combinations, each project gives off a vibe of something which is both not-of-this-world, yet invites further inspection.
As Balazs puts it, “Plywood has an industrial raw look.” In particular, he loves multilayer plywood, using both maple and birch. He has used it for nearly all of his projects. Balazs finds it to be durable and easy to work with, allowing him the leeway to curate many different designs.
Take prototype-030, a coffee table that is part of Studio Spion’s ‘Functional Objects Collection’. The design is immediately eye-catching, demanding further inspection. It looks at both times like a new type of military fighter jet, while also being an alien artifact straight out of 2001: A Space Oddity. The coating of matte paint is so dark that light can barely escape its surface – further adding to the otherworldly design.
More conventional designs are still welcome at Studio Spion, with prototype-032 melding functionality with style. The toned-down and simple rectangular shape is accented by the inverse metal legs. This is a sideboard that will bring out the funk in any room it’s placed in. The color is sparing, allowing the natural feel of the plywood to come through.
prototype-12 strips away all excess and shows the plywood in its raw state. The design harkens back to seventies power metal rockstars and their guitars, but the plain color scheme allows the viewer to notice the natural streaks in the maple.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of innovative design concepts,” says Balazs. His biggest inspirations come from modern fashion designs and military equipment. Balazs is a fan of tech wear, a fashion movement that is itself inspired by a military style. Many of his designs stir the imagination and recall images of Black Hawk helicopters and Blade Runner-esque vehicles. These inspirations have given Balazs his unique perspective on design, as he puts it “modern, sharp-edge with a slightly eccentric appeal.”
Method to the Madness
Trained in traditional ways back in Budapest, Balazs prefers to draw his initial sketches by hand. While he starts traditionally, Balazs isn’t averse to using modern technologies during the drafting stage – using SketchUp and vRay for initial mock-ups and finalizing the design in AutoCAD. Balazs also makes use of Blender for 3D modeling, which helps him to bring his geometric designs from his mind into reality.
“A top-quality panel saw is a must for cutting more complex angles,” says Balazs. His studio also uses a CNC machine for parametric designs. Balazs makes a scaled-down prototype that serves as a guide for the real thing. This prevents blunders further down the production line.
The future looks bright for Balazs and Studio Spion, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to design ideas. Creating mixed material designs, such as combining reinforced concrete and plywood, is something that Balazs is aiming to put into action before too long.
Balazs envisions working alongside art galleries and exhibitions around the US to help bring his designs to a wider audience, and collaborate with like-minded individuals to create more unique and dynamic designs.
Balazs and Studio Spion are going from strength to strength – and much like a secret agent movie – are keeping us in suspense as we wait for their next boundary-pushing design.