Designer interview with
Atelier LVDW

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In this interview series, we will enter into a dialogue with the designers we work with. How do they perceive the design profession? Where do their motivations and fascinations come from? How did the products that are included in the Vij5 collection originate and what influence has their education had on what their design studio looks like now?

This time we speak with Laura van de Wijdeven, who is based in Rotterdam with her Atelier LVDW. Laura experiences peace in nature and has a love for sustainability. This combination is reflected in her Design: she uses existing, natural materials and develops a new application for them. As a main ingredient, Laura likes to use leftover materials. A nice example of this are her Jute Lights, new in the collection of Vij5.

Text: Daniëlle van de Haterd & Atelier LVDW
Photography on location: Vij5
Portrait photography: Atelier LVDW
Product photography: Vij5 + Atelier LVDW

Arjan & Anieke: 'Could you tell us something about the Jute Light. How did you come up with this design?

Laura: 'A visit to Forbo Nederland (a Dutch flooring manufacturer) gave me the opportunity to experiment with the only residual material from the production of linoleum: jute fibres. I discovered that they are particularly suitable for reinforcing plaster and that they also produce a beautiful pattern. This resulted in the Jute Tile, the Jute Light is a sequel to this. For the design of the Jute Light I worked with the material in new ways, this resulted in a minimalistic form with a smooth exterior and a rough interior.

Laura: "A big challenge was the translation of the first prototype. The original recipe was adjusted many times to make it fit well with the new production process. What helped me a lot was sparring with Vij5, this led to new ideas and eventually a great solution. Virtually no waste is now produced in the manufacturing process.'

'The fact that natural materials contribute to a pleasant living and working environment is central to my vision and is carried through in all my Design.'

Laura van de Wijdeven

Arjan & Anieke: "Why do you think the Jute Light fits well in the Vij5 collection?

Laura: 'I think the Jute Light fits in nicely with the rest of the collection because of its subtle character and soft colors. In addition, it has a nice story to go with it, the fact that it surprises people is, I think, typical of all the products in the collection.'

Arjan & Anieke: 'What education did you follow and what is the most important lesson you learned there?'

Laura: 'I studied Lifestyle Design at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam; here you learn about future-oriented concept development. Within this education I experienced a lot of freedom to experiment, this fueled my fascination for material development. I see an internship at Studio Nienke Hoogvliet as the most valuable period of my studies. What contributed to this is that at that time she herself was a starting designer, which I found very instructive. The most important lesson I learned is the importance of perseverance.

'What I would like to pass on to the next generation of designers is: follow your intuition.'

Laura van de Wijdeven

Arjan & Anieke: 'At some point, you started your own design studio. Could you tell us something about that?'

Laura: 'In 2017, a year after I graduated, I started Atelier LVDW. In the early years, I gave myself the space to experiment with materials and learn from them. This has caused that I now have a lot of materials and ideas lying around that I can translate into products.

The feeling for the direction I wanted to give my studio came about during my graduation year when I was doing research on biomaterials in the application of biophilic design. Specifically, I was working on bioplastics, studying how they can be viewed as natural materials.'

'I've always enjoyed making something with my hands, even as a child, this has never changed.'

Laura van de Wijdeven

Laura: "A drive to create is something I've always had, as well as a love of nature. I grew up on a farm and many things were homemade at our house rather than purchased new. There was also a lot of drawing and painting around the house, thanks to my mother. I have always enjoyed making something with my hands, even as a child, this has never changed. How I love nature can probably also be traced to where I grew up. The calming effect on people fascinates me, this is what I try to Translate to my Design.'

Arjan & Anieke: "What makes your work or way of working special?

Laura: "My products actually always come about as a result of experiments with a natural material or a residual stream. So sustainability is the basis of everything. I translate the way materials behave into a logical application, which is how my products are created. During the process I get to know the material and all its properties really well, I see this as a great added value and it also always provides inspiration for subsequent products.

'During the process, I get to know the material and all its properties really well.'

Laura van de Wijdeven

Arjan & Anieke: "What are you working on right now?

Laura: "I am currently working on a number of projects, including a color study for jute fibers. The challenge lies in obtaining beautiful intense colors in an environmentally friendly way. This research will also be used for a new product.

I am also working on the project "Eggshell Ceramic," a material with similar external properties to ceramics, but made from eggshells.

It is biodegradable and can serve as a soil conditioner. The goal is to develop disposable products from this material.

Arjan & Anieke: "What does your dream future look like?

Laura: "I am very happy with what I do and would like to continue to grow with my studio. In the future I hope to have a spacious studio with extensive workshop and to form a team around me. Collaboration takes me further, I find it good to have multiple perspectives on an idea. I am also going to buy a kiln that will allow me to turn plaster scraps back into usable powder, which fits nicely with circular design. Finally, I have another big dream; to grow and develop my own natural materials for special interior products.'

Products from
Atelier LVDW
in the
Vij5 collection