Stories have always been an important part of my life. The public library was my Valhalla, endless possibilities with the limitations and frustrations of being a slow reader. But narrated stories are told even lovelier. As children we hung on my grandmother’s every word. As an old teacher she was full of poems which she knew how to recite delightfully with every visit. But as we got older time ran out, study and work made reading fade into the background.


Until my children came. Reading books to them! The Dream Merchant, The Neverending Story, Pluk van de Petteflet, the beautiful rhythms in the poems of Annie MG Smidt. But my best discovery was the storytelling festival in Maastricht, a week long “children’s” stories, told by professional storytellers. I wanted to be there every day! Bring along lemonade and biscuits and listen to gifted storytellers under an old tree in the city park. Fortunately, my children became equally captivated by the stories, we spent many summers in the city park listening. Later there were evenings for adults. Add a glass of wine and a snack and enjoy. After a while the children, the four of them, no longer needed my care full-time and there was space and a need for “something else”. Just what it would be, I didn’t know.

Interior Art

Back to the flower shop then, but after 2 years I was done working every Saturday. After some detours, I ended up in Maasmechelen with a course in interior design. For five years I faithfully went there every Saturday. And in Belgium that is an entire school year. How I loved it! And loathed it! Drawing, part of the course. How do you translate what you see onto paper? It seems so easy. Making interior designs, I got lost on the internet. So much beauty, but already designed. But my designs had to be original! And my classmates and I attended trade fairs. Peeking under the table with my teacher to see how it was made. I learned so much from this. And I also gained my passion for Design. How nice is it to look behind the scenes of a trade fair. So I signed up as a volunteer for the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven and Designday in Maastricht. That’s how I got to know the designers, the faces behind the products.

The Designer Stories

And guess what: Design and the Designer are full of stories! Stories about the products, the origin, the way there. I also got to know the road of the Designers. Many of them have worked in a variety of professions before becoming designers, so varied and so beautiful! I started telling these stories as a designer’s hostess, their right hand during a trade fair. Only then it became apparent that telling was also part of me, that I could captivate people with the stories of my Designers. For me as a person, there was just more needed to get to where I am now. In my protected world as a housewife and mother of four children I undertook a lot. I planned trips, exhibitions and sights to see and booked air travel and hotels. And then I put my hand in my husband’s hand and let him lead me to it.


This changed after I was selected to be one of the hostesses to go to Milan, the first edition of Masterly, an exhibition of Dutch Designers in a beautiful Italian palace. Up until a week before the event I shouted that I wouldn’t go and that I didn’t dare. Eventually I ended up with a group of 8 ladies who all had a Design background. They were also looking for a place in this world. We had some great conversations, each and every one of us came out stronger. For me, the most important result was that a door opened. I can do this, I got this! I boarded a plane, landed at the right airport and didn’t get lost in the tangle of metro lines. The following year I flew all alone to Milan to work a few days for a Glassblower at the Salon del Mobile and to explore the city in terms of Design. I used that knowledge the year after to find a suitable location for the SPARX living garden sets. Location scouting, contact with the organisation Airbnb, so much fun to arrange it all!

Pop-Up Shop

But in my mind I was already a year later, how nice it would be if we were here next year with a whole group of Dutch Designers! It didn’t happen, the decision period was too short, the rent too high and the Designers didn’t want to commit themselves to a trade fair that would not be for another 9 months. But the seed was planted! In the end it was not Milan, but my own trusted Maastricht where the first Pop-Up Shop of Storytelling-Design was opened during the TEFAF.