Designer interview: Jenna Postma

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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?

As a child, product designer Jenna Postma already made furniture for her Barbies, but the plan to choose this as a profession later on was not definite. Coincidence determined that this career came on her path and she is happy with that. Jenna has been running her own design studio since 2010, first from her parental home in Friesland, later settling in VechtclubXL; a creative breeding ground in Utrecht. From September 2021 her Tangents Mirror will be part of the Vij5 collection.

Text: Daniëlle van de Haterd (Staaldraad Tekstschrijver)
Photography on location: Vij5
Product photography: Vij5 & Jenna Postma

Jenna grew up in Friesland (NL) and was what you might call an outdoor child. Her father was trained as a boat builder and always working with his hands, her mother worked in healthcare but gave children's performances in her spare time. Everything she needed for the performances she used to make herself. Jenna was not born into the profession of product designer, but she was certainly motivated by her parents to be creative and make constructions.

'The fact that my father was always making something gave me the opportunity to do so too. He could help me if something didn't work out and I learned a lot.'

'I had Barbies too, I was fascinated by their beauty, but I didn't really get involved in all the drama. Instead, I occupied myself with making little things for them.'

Creative study

It was clear that Jenna wanted to study creative arts, but she didn't know which academy yet. 'In the end, I enrolled in a fashion course and in an interior architecture course. I wasn't accepted at the first course, but I was accepted at the second. So fate actually determined that I went to the Minerva Art Academy in Groningen.'

'I find it very interesting to delve into small details like connections.'

Jenna Postma

Design of furniture

During her training, Jenna found out that she finds designing furniture the most fulfilling thing to do. 'I love the clarity of it. I find it very interesting to dive into small details like connections.' An internship at Ontwerpduo was the final push she needed to choose this profession.

Own company

In 2010, Jenna started her own business, which she had not planned to do at all beforehand, but it just happened that way. 'With a number of fellow students we had rented a stand at the Dutch Design Week to exhibit our work, and that's how it came about. Shops bought my products, I made new contacts and was invited to other exhibitions.'

Deciding alone

Jenna likes being an entrepreneur. 'It's nice to be able to set and sail your own course, and in terms of creativity, you can do what you want.' The latter also hides a disadvantage according to Jenna. 'Sometimes I find it hard to be alone, you always have to make all the decisions yourself and you can never pass something on to a colleague.'

"It's nice to be able to set and sail your own course."

Jenna Postma

Like-minded people

When Jenna started her business she did so from her parents' house in Friesland, but in 2017 she made the switch to VechtclubXL in Utrecht. Because this place offers workspace to creative entrepreneurs, she found what she was missing here; like-minded people.

'We're not all product designers here, there's a lot of diversity. That's why I can always find someone to spar with, which is great.'

Jenna Postma

The power of simplicity

Jenna Postma's designs are characterized by simplicity, and she has a good reason for that. 'When something looks complicated, it's distracting. In my opinion, a design is much stronger when you don't see the details immediately because that invites you to look more closely. Often, the products that seem the simplest are very well thought-out, which gives the design strength. A lot of attention has been paid to how a construction fits together.'

'In my opinion, a design is much stronger when you don't see the details immediately because that invites you to look more closely.'

Jenna Postma

Collaboration with Vij5

'I have known Arjan and Anieke since the time I worked for Ontwerpduo. When we were both exhibiting at the Object design fair in 2019, I approached them with my idea for the Tangents Mirror. I envisaged it being very suitable for use in hotels, for example, but lacked the network to sell it there. I'd already had the idea of branding the mirror for some time, and I thought it would fit in well with the Vij5 collection.'

Tangents Mirror at Vij5

Arjan and Anieke saw the mirror as a nice addition to their collection, provided it would get a bit of a 'Vij5 touch'. ‘In consultation, we came up with a shelf at the top. I had already considered that addition before and I think it's really nice that this is now optional.'

Sustainability by design

There have also been some changes in the production line for the Tangents Mirror; it is now made at companies with which Vij5 cooperates more closely. This is easier and more sustainable.

Jenna sees sustainability in working with local producers and materials.

'The products I create do not fit in with the disposable society. I create something that is very much in line with the client's wishes so that it lasts a lifetime.'

Work together more often

Now that Jenna has had a taste of cooperation, she knows she wants to do this more often in the future. 'If you are with more people, you look more broadly at your design. You reflect more because you have to be able to argue the choices you make. You are always looking for a balance between what you yourself think and what suits the other person. I find that an interesting puzzle that, if laid out well, leads to a powerful design. What I do find very important is that a change in design should not only be because it fits better in a collection, it should also really feel like an improvement.' The process that Jenna went through with Vij5 succeeded in this for her and leaves her wanting more.

Jenna Postma's products in the Vij5 collection