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 the shape of their design studio?
This time we speak with Laura van de Wijdeven, whose studio LVDW is located in Rotterdam. Laura enjoys the tranquillity of nature and has a passion for sustainability. This combination is reflected in her designs: she uses existing, natural materials and develops new applications for them. As a main ingredient Laura likes to use left over materials. A good example 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 has been adapted many times to fit in with the new production process. What has helped me a lot is the sparring with Vij5, this has led to new ideas and ultimately a beautiful solution. Virtually no waste is produced in the production process now.
The fact that natural materials contribute to a pleasant living and working environment is central to my vision and is implemented in all my designs.Laura van de Wijdeven
Arjan & Anieke: 'Why do you think the Jute Light fits in well with 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 colours. Besides that, it has a nice story to tell and the fact that it surprises people is typical for all the products in the collection, in my opinion.
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 study I experienced a lot of freedom to experiment, this has fuelled my fascination for material development. I see an internship at Studio Nienke Hoogvliet as the most valuable period of my study. What contributed to this is that she herself was a starting designer at the time, which I found very instructive. The most important lesson I learned was 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: 'I've always had a drive to create, as well as a love for nature. I grew up on a farm and many things were homemade instead of bought new. There was also a lot of drawing and painting in the house, thanks to my mother. I've always loved making things with my hands, even as a child, and this has never changed. How much I love nature can probably also be traced back to the place where I grew up. The calming effect on people fascinates me, and I try to translate that into my designs.
Arjan & Anieke: 'What makes your work or your way of working special?
Laura: 'My products are actually always the result of experiments with a natural material or a waste stream. Sustainability is the basis of everything. I translate the way a material behaves 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 always provides inspiration for future 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 at the moment?'
Laura: 'At the moment I'm working on a number of projects, including a colour study for jute fibres. The challenge lies in obtaining beautiful, intense colours 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 improver. The goal is to develop disposable products from this material.'
Arjan & Anieke: 'What does your dreamed future look like?
Laura: 'I'm very happy with what I'm doing and would like to continue to grow my studio. In the future I hope to have a spacious studio with an extensive workshop and to be able to form a team around me. Collaboration brings me further, I think it's good to have multiple perspectives on an idea. I'm also going to buy an oven that will enable me to convert plaster residue into usable powder again, which fits in nicely with circular design. Finally, I still have a big dream: to grow and develop my own natural materials for special interior products.