Please upgrade your browser

For the best experience, you should upgrade your browser. Visit our accessibility page to view a list of supported browsers along with links to download the latest version.

Heleen Sintobin

MA work

Digital crafts // ceramics and leather

Digi-Vas Collection

This collection of vases and bottles is the result of both research into natural leather treatments and its innovative shaping using a CNC milling technique. Fascinated by craftsmanship and its future in the digital age, Heleen Sintobin pushes the boundaries of traditional leatherwork.
To treat the hides, she collaborated with Radermecker, a Belgian tannery that uses traditional plant-based tanning, made with blends of bark and tree leaves. She then carried out research into abandoned dyeing techniques. She experimented with the 2000-year-old natural colouring method ‘vinegaroon’, a blend of vinegar and steel that chemically reacts with the tannins inside the leather to give it a deep black hue.

From a formal perspective, the designer takes inspiration from black jacks, traditional English, black leather jugs, to then offer versions with a contemporary look. Some may recognise, a nod to the shape of a crushed plastic bottle, as leather used to be the plastic of the old days.
To form the leather into these surprising shapes the designer has developed a novel procedure – milling a 2D drawing on the inside surface of the leather with a CNC machine, before manipulating it into the desired shape by hand; inspired by the traditional technique of wet moulding.

Digital Ceramic Collection

This project explores the aesthetic language of digital crafting within contemporary ceramics by making use of CNC milling in wet porcelain and clay. Using the algorithmic language of the CNC programming results in digital imperfections when the spinning tool meets the material.

The project unpacks CNC technology from a craft perspective and looks at digital tools in the craft process of retooling. The 40 cups materialise the digital vocabulary of this making process, in which maker and machine intertwine.

The tables and tile collection translate the topography of the materials origin – a terracotta clay pit in Surrey and porcelain mining pits in Cornwall, UK.


  • MA Degree


    School of Design


    MA Design Products, 2019



  • Heleen Sintobin is a Belgian designer and maker. Inspired by ancient and future making methods, her work strives to convey the power of materials in a contemporary design context. In her practice she looks for a balance between written historical and academic research, as well as hands-on material research, experiments and happy accidents. 

  • Degrees

  • MA Interior Architecture, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  • Exhibitions

  • 'Venice Biennale', Palazzo Michiel, 2019; 'London Craft Week', Makerversity, London, 2019; 'Generous Nature', Belgium is Design, Salone Del Mobile, Milan, 2019; 'Generous Nature', Design Museum, Ghent, Belgium 2019; 'Talente', Munich, Germany, 2019; London Design Festival, Designjunction, London, 2018; Craft The Leather Italian Institute Culture, Tokyo, 2018; Group Exhibition Design Products RCA, Salone Del Mobile, Milan, 2018; Biennale Interieur, Ventura Interieur Kortrijk, Belgium, 2014; Stockholm Furniture Fair, Greenhouse, Stockholm, 2013; Galleri Seilduken, Oslo, 2013; Norsk design- og arkitektursenter, Oslo, 2013; Expo Nova Møbelgalleri, Norway, 2013; Blomqvist Art Gallery, Oslo, 2013
  • Awards

  • Shortlisted for Talente (furniture section), Munich, Germany, 2019; Shortlisted, Rado Star Prize UK, 2018; Craft The Leather, Lineapelle, Milan, 2018; VITRA Benelux Academic, Architecture Award, 2014; Månedens Design Blomqvist, 2013