Interview: Alex Henderson of Henderson Dry Goods

Photo | Janis Nicolay

Continuing on our interview series, today I'm thrilled to feature Alex Henderson of the beautiful line Henderson Dry Goods. I've been a fan of Alex's since I ran into her work at Eugene Choo's back in 2009. Her choices of woods (usually teak or walnut), the intricacies of her designs and craftmanship are impeccable and continually evolve and inspire. We sent over a few questions last week, and here's what she had to say; but first a little bit about her and her company:

Alex Henderson is a Vancouver industrial designer, her medium is primarily wood, used in a myriad of ways, from jewelry to home d├ęcor: mirrors and clocks, mobiles and dioramas. Henderson Dry Goods products are works of art, disguised as objects of design. Everything is made-to-order and custom projects are happily considered. You may have seen some of her work online and in local stores.  Click here for a full listing.

Photo | Janis Nicolay

Tell us a little bit about you. Where did you train or study and what led you to the path you currently are on?

I decided I wanted to become a designer at the age of 15. At the same time I also decided I wanted to go to Emily Carr. It took me another 8 years and a major move to get there, but I did, and graduated with my degree in industrial design in 2006.

I also only ever envisioned working for myself and happily I’ve been able to make that a reality through some well-timed circumstances and a fair amount of hard work and stubbornness.

Photo | Janis Nicolay
Photo via Working Format
Photo | Janis Nicolay

What's your main focus currently and/or how would you describe your current design aesthetic?

My main focus is on being self-sustaining and adjusting my business model as I go on in an effort to keep things small and manageable. I don’t want to just pass off work to employees but continue to make my work with my own hands (and my laser cutter!). I enjoy the long process of continually improving my techniques and refining my own vision for Henderson Dry Goods.

My design aesthetic always seems to involve wood. However, I am starting to feel the itch to try some new materials, in particular, textiles.

Photo | Janis Nicolay

Love your mirrors - can you explain that design process?

The mirrors are a labour of love, with the emphasis on labour! Boards of solid wood (I use walnut and alder) are jointed, planed and then joined together before milling them down into the frame shapes using a c.n.c. router. After much sanding and finishing, I add the custom cut mirror, backings and brackets. Over the years I have re-imagined the mirrors and have tried making them several different ways and I think I finally have them figured out, only to realize they really don’t make sense as a viable product (it is often too hard to compete with Made in China prices). Alas, I have actually decided to end the production of the mirrors. Happily I seem to be getting a steady stream of commissions for custom ones though, which I am very glad to do.

Photo | Janis Nicolay

What Canadian designers/makers/architects, etc do you look up to, are influenced by or inspire you?

The list is too huge! I feel lucky that I seem to be surrounded by amazingly talented people who inspire me in various ways, be it through their work ethic, their creative genius, their aesthetic or just generally being creative people. But here are a few of particular note:

Lee Henderson (notable writer/ brother)
Ben Burnett (designer and craftsman extraordinaire/ husband)
Karin Bubas (artist who creates beautiful work)
Working Format (graphic designers with rigor)
Christian Woo (makes wood feel like butter)
Troy Gronsdahl (artist/musician of exceptional talent)
Brent Comber (renowned and generous designer/ sculptor))
Omer Arbel (Tour de Force)

Where else do you pull inspiration from?

Anything and everything and sometimes even nothing.

Any sneak peeks or plans you can share of new or future things on the go?

I have several things on the go but I’m a mom with a toddler…. so the best laid plans…

Thanks Alex!  You can visit Henderson Dry Goods online at and find her work in shops in North America and Europe.  Click here to see her Stockists.

Thank you to Janis Nicolay for sharing some photo's of Alex's work with us for this interview.

Jan Halvarson


Unknown said...

Those mirrors are stunning! I really love the necklaces too. Thank you for introducing me to such a wonderful artist.

Unknown said...

AMAZING!! :) love

Unknown said...

I have seen many of these designs at craft shows around town, theres some very talented people in Vancouver! Its especially nice to see so many pop up shops around now showcasing peoples work!

Unknown said...

Each piece definitely shows her love and labor. I especially love the birds flying in the field in a glass, the mirrors, and the trays. Unique and beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

Coco Cake Land said...

great feature, jan! and congratulations alex on all of your success, your work is always so lovely!

April said...

Wow. Wonderful feature! This is just too cool