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When Aesthetic is Function Enough

Following Holland’s strong tradition of self-producing designers, Mae Engelgeer launches her own textile label in Frozen Fountain just five months after completing her Master's programme.

By Gabrielle Kennedy /asdf 17-11-2008

Mae Engelgeer’s trajectory from graduate to next week's launch of her “Muse Collection” at Amsterdam’s Frozen Fountain has been swift and to the point.

After training at AMFI and the Sandberg Institute, as well as working briefly for another label to get a hold on the industry, Engelgeer took her talent solo. Her first independent showing was for FreeDesigndom this September in the attic of the Lloyd Hotel, which she transformed into a nostalgic spin on the nineteenth century textile factory. Piles of colourful threads, bows, and ribbons hung from the rafters and over her central worktable that overflowed with hand-embroidered fabrics and objects.

Engelgeer’s textiles are characterized by a lot of hand-worked detailing, and the weaving together of old and new. “I usually start with something very old-fashioned,” she says, “but the end result is always a full departure.”

The Lloyd Hotel exhibition so impressed Frozen Fountain owners Cok de Rooy and Dick Dankers that they offered Engelgeer cart blanche to design a small range to go on sale in their Prinsengracht boutique this month.

Based on bows and called the “Muse Collection”, this range of throws and cushions is made from textiles Engelgeer created and produced at the TextileLab at the Audax Textielmuseum in Tilburg. “It is a subsidized situation,” she says. “The lab has expensive computers and weaving machines and the experts there work with young designers to help us develop our skills.”

The results are a celebratory ode to Engelgeer's preferred decorative symbol, the bow. “I like bows a lot, “ she explains, “because they are usually only used to make something prettier and more beautiful.”

Engelgeer’s belief has always been in aesthetic beauty. As a student, she smothered her textiles and objects with bows until they became unrecognizable. “I don't really like things to have an obvious function,” she says of her concept. “It’s more about how it looks than if you can sit on it because to me, aesthetic beauty is function enough.”

The “Muse Collection” is made from double-sided mohair and an assortment of thick ply acrylics weaved with Lurex bows in contrasting colours. “I'm very pleased with it so far," says Engelgeer. "The colours all mingle into a happy and colourful but still very stylish mix, and the plaids look like precious jewels in objects of art."

After crediting the Tilburg Museum for making this collection possible, Engelgeer says it was the support and freedom of the Frozen Fountain owners that pushed her to the next level. “They are very supportive of young designers," she says. "They really try to make things possible.”

Looking ahead to when her collections grows beyond the Tilberg Museum's capacities, Engelgeer says she wants to find a Dutch textile factory so as to keep her product local. “I’ve been looking at de Ploeg,” she says. “Scholten and Baijings have been producing their textiles there and it looks very interesting.”

Images: scenes from Engelgeer's exhibition at the Lloyd Hotel and fabrics she is creating the "Muse Collection" from.

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