Christien Meindertsma Sources Dutch Wool
The buzz surrounding Meindertsma continues with her new projects with Dutch wool, a difficult and coarse material that up until now has been costing rather than making farmers cash.
The exciting thing about Dutch design is the number of young designers starting this decade truly tapped into the zeitgeist and seemingly so well prepared for the massive changes the industry is facing. Christien Meindertsma is one of them.
“There wasn’t anything conscious about achieving that though,” Meindertsma says. “I’m a child of my times, just like designers who made it big last decade started out with all the influences that created that era. Now it is different and of course I am different as a result.”
And that difference is really the key to her early success. “Unlike artists who can really do anything, designers are supposed to be about the moment,” she explains. “I think it would be a bit grotesque to be working with very rare materials given the era we are in and what is going on … Maybe ten years ago that would have worked, but it is no longer interesting.”
After her flax and wool products as well as the book exploring the myriad of products made from pigs, it seems right to assume that Meindertsma has a thing with traditional materials. “But that’s not necessarily the case,” she says. “I think my interest is in real materials that can be locally sourced.”
After further probing it becomes clear that it isn’t even the actual materials that attract her but the story behind them – where did it come from and how did it get there. The catch, however, is that the story has to be real and not a marketing spin. “Ever since I was a student I wondered about why so much money is wasted on marketing,” she says. “Isn’t it better to just do away with the marketing and use a real story?”
The woolen rugs and poufs she has been producing over the last year have garnered her a lot of positive praise, but that she had to source the wool from New Zealand left a bitter taste in her mouth. “It’s not that Dutch wool is any better, but it seems ridiculous to go to the other side of the world for a material that could just as easily be sourced locally,” she says.
And wool has always interested Meindertsma. Her graduation project from Design Academy Eindhoven was a series of jumpers in different sizes made from just one sheep. For that she managed to find some Dutch wool, but had to take it to England to have it properly spun. Local industry has all but died.
Despite the typical association of sheep with wool, Dutch sheep are bred only for their meat. “There is a company on the island of Texel that manufactures wool to make duvets, but that wool ends up inside the product and you never actually see or feel it,” says Meindertsma. Apparently farmers complain that it costs more to shear a sheep than what the wool can be sold for. “It is effectively a by-product, which is a shame because it is such a nice material,” she adds. “Dutch wool is very coarse and has a lot of volume and that does make it unsuitable for clothing, but I knew it would work well in product design.”
Now she has found someone in Belgium to spin her Dutch wool and is in the process of making woolen ball ottomans – objects made from only wool with no extra filling. One was presented last week during Object Rotterdam as part of the Thomas Eyck collection. Next she would like to have the poufs and Aran rugs, already in production using New Zealand wool, made from the same Dutch wool, but transferring production will take some time.
Meindertsma was recently selected by NRC Handelsblad as one of the top ten bright things across all industries in Holland to watch this decade. “It's nice to be recognized,” she says with characteristic modesty. “I design what I design because I want to and if people understand it and want to use it or read it then that just makes it all the more satisfying … these are interesting times to be designing in and I want to make the most of the opportunities that designing in a different way affords me.”
Points of sale
( 4 Votes, average: 4 out of 5)
click to vote
- Amsterdam Fashion Week 2013
- Dutch Design Week 2012
- Milan 2012
- Amsterdam Fashion Week 2012
- Dutch Design Week 2011
- Amsterdam International Fashion Week 2010
- Amsterdam International Fashion Week 2011
- Dutch Design Week 2010
- Dutch Design Double 2010
- Milan 2010
- Design.nl 100th Issue Favourites
- Dutch Design Week 2009
- Dutch Design Double 2009
- Milan 2009
- Amsterdam International Fashion Week 2009
- Going Out - Restaurants, bars, cafes, clubs and hotels
- Graphic Design Festival 2008
- Dutch Design Week 2008
- Retail Therapy - Where to buy Dutch design
- FreeDesigndom 2008
- Milan 2008
- Amsterdam International Fashion Week 2008
- Design.nl Tokyo favourites