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Interview with Alessandra De Santis from Hydra Design

Confident designs full of passion, emozione and the necessary attention to detail - Italian Alessandra de Santis is a passionate knife designer and the face of Hydra Design. The knife division emerged from Hydra Armaments, her husband's company that produces accessories for firearms such as muzzle flash suppressors and muzzle brakes for sporting, tactical as well as hunting applications. Her creations are characterized by a distinctive design that combines unique details with uncompromising functionality and high utility.


How did you get involved with knives?

Knives have always fascinated me. And with me it was actually no different than with many other knife enthusiasts before that the passion was sparked in early childhood. Having grown up in the countryside, I always considered knives to be useful tools rather than collectibles. Later, I delved more and more into the matter and began my own path in the knife industry. Incidentally, I can still remember very clearly my first knife, which really enchanted me. It was a compact pocket knife with back lock that I got from my father after we moved abroad. We were in a knife store and I wanted a big knife. My father looked quite puzzled until the owner said that the knife he had chosen was perhaps a little too big for the young lady. Then he showed me the small pocket knife, which I still own and keep in my display case. Maybe it's because of that store owner that I rarely pull out smaller knives to this day (laughs).

Before you designed your own knives, you spent years testing and reviewing knives. How did this change of perspective come about?

Exactly, since 2011 I have been working with several knife magazines, critically examining industrial knives. I still work with the most important knife magazine in Italy to this day. The test judgments have helped me enormously to get a comprehensive overview of the knife industry. Coupled with my enthusiasm for knives and the incentive to develop myself further, it was only logical to take the next step and design my own knives.

You have a degree in chemistry, many years of experience as a knife journalist, extensive knowledge of historical blades and are also a self-confessed Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) fan. To what extent does this help you in your knife designs?

I think you can generally say that you should be willing to think outside the box in all areas to broaden your horizons. My studies have helped me gain extensive knowledge of steel and other materials. A passion for historical knives has made me delve even deeper into their origins, while practicing Filipino martial arts has given me an even better understanding in the use of tactical knives. I can incorporate all of this beautifully into my designs.

How long have you been working as a knife designer?

I got my start in 2015 when I designed my first fixed blade knife. As this was more of a pastime, the dream initially ended up in the famous drawer before taking concrete shape in 2018 and reviving under Hydra Armaments, my husband's label. Already in 2019, the first collaborations with international knife manufacturers took place. So hopefully my journey is not over yet, as I am honored when pioneering and traditional manufacturers like Boker approach me for selected projects.

Will you tell us what inspires you?

The source of my ideas can't be pinpointed at all. It's not unusual for my surroundings to inspire me. A certain shape or texture that might come into question for the next handle. But I usually take a goal-oriented approach, harmonizing the type of knife with its intended use in terms of form and function.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I would actually say everything. But what I enjoy most are the many positive letters from knife fans who have bought one of my designs or who express their enthusiasm about my work. It's just a great feeling to know that my products touch people all over the world and play a permanent role in their everyday lives. The knife world is made up of great people. I have already been able to make new friends in many countries. I keep in regular contact with some of them.

And your husband? Does he share your enthusiasm for knives?

Definitely! We share a passion for knives and firearms; in a way, it brought us together. He's also a gunsmith. There has never been any prejudice on his part about my affinity for knives. When we moved in together, however, there was a lot of chaos. Knives everywhere you looked. That's just the way it is with two crazy knife collectors. But one thing is for sure: There is no argument about it when one of us spends his money on knives or firearms. Passion unites and creates understanding.

What do you do in your free time to relax or unwind?

There are a few things. I like to shoot, especially with precision rifles at long range. But I am also fascinated by bows and crossbows, although I am not very good at them. Another passion is carp fishing. As a contrast to all the outdoor activities I love video games, due to the pandemic I have been seen in front of the console a bit more often lately.

Do you ever get fed up with knives?

That hasn't happened to me yet. I don't think it will happen to me anytime soon. Knives have always been my passion, and I'm happy to be able to live it out professionally. But I don't rule out the possibility that certain work-related dynamics can develop that have a frustrating effect. When things don't work out the way I want them to, or when working together turns out to be difficult. But that's just part of it.

What projects are you currently working on?

Several exciting designs are already in the starting blocks. Unfortunately, the pandemic and the associated supply bottlenecks for material have resulted in unplanned delays. Nevertheless, eight of my designs are still scheduled for release this year. In addition, new projects and further collaborations are planned.

What would you like to leave our customers with?

I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have always believed in me and supported me on my journey as a knife designer. I have already received so much great feedback, which fills me with pride on the one hand, but also with a lot of gratitude on the other. I understand my work as a vocation, a passion that I breathe and that always spurs me on to develop further.

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