Merel Karhof was born in Edam, the Netherlands in 1978. She studied in the Man and Leisure department at Design Academy Eindhoven, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree with honors in 2004. The following year she established Studio Merel Karhof in Amsterdam. In 2007, she began studying product design at the Royal College of Art in London; at the same time she started living and working alternately between London and Amsterdam. She earned her Master’s degree from the RCA in 2009.
Karhof’s designs are inspired by an ongoing dialogue with her surroundings. She frequently delves into everyday elements, such as the color of the water in Venice or the urban wind in Amsterdam. Her work is both research- and process-driven, and she often develops her own tools and products. Stand out projects to date include Wind Knitting Factory (2009), a wind-powered knitting machine that knits scarves; as well as Windworks (2013), a furniture collection made by the Wind Knitting Factory in collaboration with two windmills in the Netherlands’ Zaanse Schans area. Further, in 2015, she collaborated with artist Yasmijn Karhof and graphic designer Roosje Klap on the interdisciplinary project Blue Hour; inspired by its namesake, “the period during both dawn and twilight when a blue glow appears in the air,” the project consists of a film, a woven textile, and a book. In 2016, she collaborated with designer Marc Trotereau to create Shade Volume, a lightweight lighting system composed of objects that join two or more lampshades together to “sculpt light.”
To date, Karhof’s work has been included in exhibitions in London, Milan, Venice, and China. In 2011, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, USA, purchased Wind Knitting Factory Harvest for its permanent collection. In 2012, she received a grant from the Netherlands-based DOEN Foundation, and in 2013, she was awarded a grant from Triodos Bank.