A Vij5 Ambassador is, just like us, a big fan of the Vij5 collection. It is not just another point of sale, but a shop that knows that little bit more about our products. There are short lines of communication between an ambassador and Vij5, so they too can tell you the complete story that belongs to our items!
We use the month of May to tell what makes these ambassadors share their love of our products. This time the floor is given to Henk Jan, owner of interior store Nieuwe Oost in Utrecht. Arjan talked to him about the interior design business, his love for design, cooperation, and more. Are you curious about the whole conversation? Then listen (also) to the podcast (in Dutch).
Text: Daniëlle van de Haterd (Staaldraad Tekstschrijver)
Henk Jan has been in the interior design business for twenty years. Two years ago, together with his copartner Daniel, he started the interior design shop Nieuwe Oost. The collaboration between Henk Jan and Vij5 goes back much further than this, so the ambassadorship suits him perfectly.
"We have a big warm heart for Dutch design."Henk Jan Borst - Nieuwe Oost
Before Henk Jan became interested in design, he worked in the fashion industry, which is again something completely different from what he was trained for: he is a cultural historian. So we can say that he has a wide range of interests. Twenty years ago, Henk Jan accidentally ended up in the interior design business.
"I saw an advertisement of a very small interior design shop with only Dutch design. I thought, that's nice! My background is in cultural history and my attention was drawn to contemporary Dutch design. In those days, a lot was designed, but there wasn't really a platform or sales channel to sell the products. The owner of Strand NL had just started his shop to be a sales point for that generation, think of Richard Hutten, Marcel Wanders; the classics. I helped to expand and shape this shop, it grew a lot but unfortunately went bankrupt in the end. I then started Nieuwe Oost together with my colleague Daniel. We still have a big warm heart for Dutch design."
"We like to offer something that is different from what people have in mind."Henk Jan Borst - Nieuwe Oost
Nieuwe Oost is more than a shop where you can buy design items. It is also a design studio for complete interiors. "I tend to lean towards the shop side, but the design side is of course also great fun. Daniel does the big jobs and I do the smaller ones, the colour advice, for example. It's really nice when people can't work something out and we then offer something that's different to what they had in mind and that works."
People who visit Henk Jan's shop come across his path in various ways.
"We are actually in a kind of village in the city, we are very visible to passers-by. If people like the look of the shop, they will cross the threshold, otherwise they will not. Sometimes they really come for me or my handwriting. That is not meant to be arrogant, but it's what I hear back from people."
Henk Jan is attracted not only to our Vij5 collection but also to the people behind it and to our way of working. "I like the way you deal with your collection and the people who contribute to it, it's almost friendly. The sobriety and clarity of the designs and the history from which some of them originated are very interesting to me as a person and from my professional background. We've been working together for fifteen years, what I see in that time is a very consistent collection."
"I am a storyteller with a predilection for certain collections."Henk Jan Borst - Nieuwe Oost
All the products in the Vij5 collection go through a five-step process: design-curate-translate-create-share. For that last step, people like Henk Jan are indispensable. "I am a storyteller with a predilection for certain collections. Because the products of Vij5 appeal to me so much, I can pass on my love to the end-users. This makes potential buyers feel that love too, which I see as added value."
Henk Jan has a clear Vij5 favourite; the FlexVase. The product that started it all. "I love that. I think that's a really nice and clear design."
"In 10 years' time, we will probably be dealing with our raw materials in a very different way."Henk Jan Borst - Nieuwe Oost
Sustainability is high on Henk Jan's list of priorities, as is honesty. "I notice that more and more customers are asking for sustainable products, and sometimes they are explicitly looking for something made from residual streams. I think the great thing about sustainable products is that they often have a good story to tell. It is also something that is constantly changing. In ten years' time, we will probably be dealing with our raw materials in a completely different way. It is good that we are getting more and more insight into where something comes from. I don't want to buy Scandinavian products made in China anymore, for example.
Henk Jan forgives us the fact that the FlexVase was produced in China. "It's not a bad thing, it suited the times. I see Vij5 making conscious choices with regard to sustainability and I like that. I can imagine that the next version will be made closer to home."
In five years' time, Henk Jan hopes to still be running his shop from the same location, although he expects it to look completely different by then. If it were up to him, it would be full of new items, even more sustainable products. What remains unchanged is that he receives customers from all over the country. "So everyone can see the Vij5 collection!
Do you want to discover which products from the Vij5 collection you can find at Nieuwe Oost and what Henk Jan can tell you about them? Just drop in during opening hours.
"But if you make an appointment in advance, it's even more fun."