Stories have always been an important part of my life. The library was my mecca, endless possibilities with the limitation and frustration of being a slow reader. But stories are told even more beautifully. As a child we hung on my grandmother’s every word, as an old teacher she was full of verses, which she knew how to recite beautifully, every visit again. But as we got older, there was less and less time, study and work made reading fade into the background.
To read aloud
Until children came. To read aloud! The winged cat, the never-ending 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’d love 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, they became 4, no longer needed my care full-time and there was space and a need for “something else”. Just what, I didn’t know.
Back to the flower shop then, but after 2 years I was done working every Saturday. After some wandering, I ended up in Maasmechelen, 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 enjoyed it! And apart! Drawing, part of the course. How do you get what you see on paper? It seems so easy. Making interior designs, I got lost on the internet. So much beautiful, but already designed. But my designs had to be original! And we attended trade shows. Hanging 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 at the screens 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. But also the way 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 show. Only then it became apparent that telling was also part of me, that I could captivate people with the stories of my Designers. For myself as a person, it just took more to get to where I am now. In my protected world as a housewife and mother of 4 children I undertook a lot. I planned trips, exhibitions and sights to see, air travel and hotels. And then I put my hand in my husband’s hand and let it 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. Until a week in advance I shouted that I wasn’t going, that I didn’t dare. Eventually I ended up in a group of 8 ladies, all with a Design background. All 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 dare this! I board a plane, land at the right airport and don’t get lost in the tangle of metro lines. The following year I flew all alone to Milan to work for 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 following year to find a suitable location for the SPARX living garden sets. Location, contact with the organization Airbnb, so much fun to arrange it all!
But in my mind I was already a year later, how nice would it 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 ¾ year. 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.