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Mae Engelgeer studio visit

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Mae Engelgeer

Mae Engelgeer

In between showers of rain we enter an old building block near the former harbor of Amsterdam. In its glory days it housed seaman awaiting their ship. Now, the high ceilings and charming ruggedness of the old white plaster accommodate a Dutch creative force to be reckoned with. Mae Engelgeer’s studio is as light, spacious and brimming with color as the fabrics she brings into the world. It seems that every object in this space is thoughtfully placed and selected. At the same time, whether it concerns a scissor, a cup or a cloth sample, their arrangement is without strain, making it feel organic.

We intuit the same from Mae and her team. Marloes is in charge of the music for today they jokingly admit. An awesome wave by Alt-J blends in with feeble rays of sun falling in from the high windows. While my partner walks around the space to take photographs Mae and I sit down to talk.

I need to feel the material

One thing immediately stands out in Mae’s approach to design: she isn’t afraid to show color. When talking about her approach to design and working methods she frequently phrases an intuitive, sensory and almost phenomenological perspective. It shines through in comments where she stresses that for her it’s about the ‘feel’ of a fabric and that she tries to ‘bring a fabric to life’. Looking at it from this angle, her being attracted to textiles from an early age on doesn’t come as a surprise. Mae dares to let this intuitive strand guide the way. What unfolds is a touching story featuring her and the textiles she brings to life.

I think through materials, colors and patterning

Mae Engelgeer has a background in fashion (Amsterdam Fashion Institute) and autonomous arts and design (Sandberg Akademie), which adds up to a versatile education. Underneath this diversity runs a very clear thread, a heartbeat of ikat patterns, a close collaboration with one of the oldest institutions for textiles in the Netherlands (TextileLab) and of course the baseline of pop coloring.

All of those elements emerge from Mae’s intuition, ultimately coming together into a unique sensible whole. She comments: ‘When I started going to the Textilelab and made a series of fabrics there, people started commenting: ‘I would like to buy something of yours.’ I noticed I liked that idea. I wanted to make a product that would be as autonomous as possible and ended up making plaids. This application keeps a focus on characteristics of the fabric itself.’

From this vantage point the first collection of plaids and tea towels emerged. She makes plaids, tea towels, rugs, placemats and recently even ceramics. All of which are unmistakably Engelgeer. ‘Mountains’ of ikat woven from light yarns overwrite broad strokes created through color juxtapositions. It calls into view a contemporary landscape enlivening minimalist interiors all through the Netherlands and beyond.

Openness defines me and my work

Through the past couple of years Mae’s signature colors and patterning keep developing as she continually seeks collaborations with other designers and crafts. To name just a few: she presented a room divider calls Dash Divider in Milan together with designer Jeroen van Leur and made a hand made rug together with Nepalese women

She thrives on collaborative effort and finds the challenges it poses nourishing her development. Sometimes she even ponders what it would be like to work as a duo. Choosing applied arts over autonomous work creates a direct and lively connection to people around her. They can literally live with the fabric visuals she creates.

All in all, these products do not weave a structure closed in itself, but rather bring forth a framework that’s essentially open. She invites co-workers, the people buying her plaids in and is always up for feedback, for new and unique insights.

Her career is taking on an exciting, more intensified direction as she starts looking to the future. Without abandoning her intuitive curiosity Mae ventures to create a new path for her work by reflecting on it and taking it into other fields of design and its disciplines purposefully. We’re convinced the path will lead somewhere open, comfortable and radiant.

Openness defines me and my work

Through the past couple of years Mae’s signature colors and patterning keep developing as she continually seeks collaborations with other designers and crafts. To name just a few: she presented a room divider calls Dash Divider in Milan together with designer Jeroen van Leur and made a hand made rug together with Nepalese women. She thrives on collaborative effort and finds the challenges it poses nourishing her development. Sometimes she even ponders what it would be like to work as a duo. Choosing applied arts over autonomous work creates a direct and lively connection to people around her. They can literally live with the fabric visuals she creates.

All in all, these products do not weave a structure closed in itself, but rather bring forth a framework that’s essentially open. She invites co-workers, the people buying her plaids in and is always up for feedback, for new and unique insights. Her career is taking on an exciting, more intensified direction as she starts looking to the future. Without abandoning her intuitive curiosity Mae ventures to create a new path for her work by reflecting on it and taking it into other fields of design and its disciplines purposefully. We’re convinced the path will lead somewhere open, comfortable and radiant.

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