Designer Lotte de Raadt has had a creative upbringing. Her mother also worked with clay and she sold her work at markets and fairs. Lotte went along with her from an early age, so both creating and entrepreneurship are ingrained in her. The fact that she enrolled at the Design Academy at the age of sixteen was certainly early, but did not come as a surprise. Immediately after completing her education, Lotte started her own design studio, and since 2017 a number of her products have been part of the Vij5 collection.
Text: Daniëlle van de Haterd (Staaldraad Tekstschrijver)
Design Academy Eindhoven
I went through the academy with ups and downs. I had no idea where I wanted to go in the end, but I was given the space to explore that here. My graduation project is based on tap water. I discovered that we have three types of sources in the Netherlands: surface water, ground water and dune water. Inspired by this, I designed three forms of drinking water carafes. At first I had them made of glass, so I couldn't produce them myself.
"At the academy I avoided ceramics, finding it far too complicated and fragile.Lotte de Raadt
The step to ceramics
That Lotte eventually ended up in ceramics was not a preconceived plan. At the academy I avoided it, I found it far too complicated and fragile. In my anti-squat studio I could experiment in peace and quiet and there I discovered my love for it.
Interest in tap water
Because of my link with water, I was asked by KWR (Knowledge Centre for Water Research) to do a free assignment for them. By talking to people there, I learned that clay protects and filters water, so there are many links between water and ceramics and that is what makes it so interesting for me.
Further development of the Tap Water Carafe
Based on her interest in tap water and what she had learned, Lotte made her originally glass Tap Water Carafe out of terracotta, which not only gave it a new look, but also a new function. Because the terracotta is somewhat porous, a small amount of water evaporates, this process cooling the water in the bottle.
An additional advantage of the ceramic Tap Water Carafe is that Lotte can make it herself in this material. She does this by hand, by shaping the clay in plaster moulds. Her great love for natural materials and small-scale production is reflected in this.
"There are a lot of links between water and ceramics and that's what makes it so interesting for me."Lotte de Raadt
If it were up to Lotte, the carafe would be for daily use. It is a functional product and tap water is 2000 times cheaper than the spring water you buy in plastic bottles. So the investment in the Tap Water Carafe pays for itself. Nevertheless, I know that there are also people who put the bottle in the cupboard as a showpiece. That is allowed of course, but it is not the intention.
"Collaboration and machines Shareare great ways to keep a small business going'".Lotte de Raadt
Small business in Eindhoven
Lotte has her studio in Eindhoven. Laughingly, she says that she has already made several attempts to get away from there, but in vain. I was young when I came to Eindhoven and I have really found my place here. I work in an environment with different designers and we Sharethe machines together. It's a nice way to keep a small business going.
"By trying things out, surprising products can emerge."Lotte de Raadt
Ceramics workshop in Sweden
Lotte is not completely attached to Eindhoven. I have travelled a lot and after half a year I get the itch to leave. At the moment, I am busy setting up a ceramics workshop in Sweden. My family bought a house there from a former potter. There is a wood-fired kiln in the garden and I am experimenting with that. I am not technically trained in that area, I am really a designer and by trying things out surprising products can arise.
The Vij5 collection
Since 2017, a number of Lotte's Designare part of the Vij5 collection, which was a logical decision for her. If you have a company on your own, you have to make choices because it is really too much to do everything yourself. When Arjan and Anieke van Vij5 came across my path via design colleagues Alissa + Nienke, I decided to leave the sales to them. At that time I had three product series and Anieke was particularly interested in the cups and bowls with drop glaze (Archiving Water Ware). Together we developed these into a tableware series. Eventually my tap water carafes were added to the Vij5 collection.
Collaboration with Vij5
What Lotte likes about working with Vij5 is the good mutual contact. I like that Arjan and Anieke are nice and down-to-earth and Dutch, not too much fuss. There is also a lot of involvement in the production process, which I like. I think my Designfits the collection very well because it is minimalistic and practical.
More ways of working together
Working together is something that Lotte enjoys anyway. I share my workshop with Kirstie van Noort and one of the things I do with her is the OER project'. For this, we make a number of different products that we colour with a residual stream from Brabant Water. Collaboration on different fronts, in other words.
As far as the future is concerned, Lotte does have a vision but no fixed plan. I can roll out my concept anywhere in the world, so I want to do that in different places. My first option is Sardinia, where I work with a fellow designer, Sara Vignoli. She and I complement each other nicely in what we are doing. What is clear to me is that I want to continue working in a sustainable way in the future.