Exploring circular design: an inside look at ante up

Circular-designed objects are durable, reusable and reparable items that ultimately aim to generate zero waste. This viennesse-based studio offers product design services for furniture and home accessories. Founded in 2020, by Benedikt Stonawski and Hauke ​​Unterburg, ante up has featured in Vienna Design Week, Design Month Graz, the Isola Design Week in Italy, and more. Read the interview made by Oekobusiness Wien to the founders.

What does ante up do? What projects are you currently working on?

Ante up is a studio for sustainable and circular product and furniture design based in Vienna, founded in 2020 by us, Hauke and Benedikt. We work closely with companies to turn visions into innovative products, always aiming to create sustainable aesthetics. Our services include product development, consulting for circular product design, design thinking workshops, CAD construction, 3D rendering, and prototype construction. Currently, we are focusing on designing a trade fair booth about circular design for the international furniture fair in Cologne. Additionally, we are working on two pieces of furniture for different manufacturers and two metal products for an industrial client.


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How did you come up with the name?

The name ante up comes from gaming jargon and means to bring the stake in advance. Ante in Latin stands for before and up for raising. We were looking for a name that embodies our sustainable mission: only if we bring the stake in advance we will solve tomorrow’s challenges. By the way, our logo also reflects these circular values. If you turn it 180 degrees, it reveals an ambigram.

What purpose does circular design pursue?

As ante up, we believe in a world where everything stays in the cycle and nothing loses its meaning. Circular objects are best created when all life phases are thought through from the beginning. As designers, we have the first opportunity to do this. With this holistic approach, we create our own collection of circular furniture and home accessories and transparently tell their stories – from the origin of the materials to the processing and returning to the cycle.


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What was the biggest challenge in founding and developing?

Since we both studied product design, the entrepreneurial component was initially new territory for us. In addition to the actual profession, self-employment brings completely new challenges that are many professions in one: accounting, marketing, sales, and much more. To keep an overview, we educated ourselves; and that’s how we arrived to the Re:Wien program.

Do you think that working as a duo is easier? Why did you choose this work structure?

Working as a duo is definitely easier. My colleague Hauke and I met during an internship with designer Thomas Feichtner. Together we had fun and appreciated our previous design work. In product design, which should work on different levels, the exchange of ideas is crucial. Together, more creative ideas emerge than alone.

How did the Re:Wien program by OekoBusiness Wien and Impact Hub Vienna specifically contribute to further developing your business idea?

The Re:Wien program helped us as a team to concretize our vision and develop new goals. The exchange with other founders about their challenges and experiences was particularly helpful for us.


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What tips would you give to other founders on their journey?

Over the years, various things have helped us. We intensively use design thinking tools to structure our work and keep an overview. We have several advisors whose advice we value. We network under the motto “pay it forward” and are happy to support other entrepreneurs with sustainable or circular visions. A healthy work-life balance is important: even though we enjoy our work very much, we make sure to have a balance.

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