You know you’re getting into good design when the creator is as mad for the materials and production as the end result. Somewhere between David Hasselhoff and a New York pizza pie are Amsterdam’s highly sought after boutique accessories: circle purses, eyewear chords, and camera straps.
“When you are a romantic and a dreamer and quite morose at times this can be an overwhelming thing in your everyday life and for me I suppose it does influence everything I do. So naturally I will like this vibe in pictures, art and products as well.”
Where form and function meet mega style, Anna Hegeman and partner Marjet de Ridder are turning hours on the go into a look. And a damn good one. A million ideas became one under the single kernel: the inspired traveller. But not without their own hours of globetrotting and crafting did this top shelf product line evolve.
Like Hegeman, if you’re effortlessly stylish, well-travelled, innovative, and all things hip without the ster, you probably know a thing or two about good design. In which case you are particular about your look, items you carry with, purchases, and time spent. The Van der Borne bottega is dialed in. Hegeman and Ridder know plenty about design and mingle well with creativity, factoring all of the above into a label of must haves.
As eccentric and authentic as her designs, if you don’t now Anna yet, know her work. Meet the lady behind the allure and fall in love with yet another piece of Dutch design:
————- Interview with Anna Hegeman, co-Founder of Van der Borne ———–
AG: Alright lady, what’s going with this haute label? What sparked the pizza bag, and what drove you and your team to design eyewear cords?
Anna: We aim to design for the Inspired Traveler and the Jet Set Vagabond. When you hear these words, just try and make a mental picture in your head of this person… isn’t it the person that is casually wearing the Pizza Bag strolling through the streets of Paris or Amsterdam, spotting vintage treasures or trying to find the best cappuccino?
The Pizza Bag originated from an old bag of mine. We were at the (leather) tannery trying to find good materials and I was carrying this round bag. The model wasn’t particularly great, because the roundness of the bag had sort of disappeared, but we had this epiphany on how with better materials the bag could be a very round bag indeed. So we took it to our producer and started working on adjusting the model and after many failed attempts we finally found the best way to make this very very round bag.
The Kordens were actually the beginning of it all. I took my masters degree in Copenhagen, Denmark and go back there as much as I can. A few summers ago I saw a few people there wearing the cords on their glasses and I decided this was going to be a trend. And if it wasn’t I was going to make it one! With my business partner we set up the company and soon decided on many other things we wanted to make, all of which turned out to be practical, often leather, accessories, and always putting form perhaps not entirely above, but definitely beside function.
We saw the cords people sometimes put on their reading glasses, and these things are often a piece of rubber with some synthetic cord attached to it and it’s probably a gift from the optician from when they bought their glasses. Not much thought went into the form of the design and it often looks very cheap. We felt we could do a much better job and designed it so that the entire cord is leather, and with gold or black/bronze details you can now feel chique wearing such a cord. And besides, isn’t it more chique not to wear your sunnies in your hair?
“The world is changing and we feel that when you start a company now, you should do it in the best way possible; look for a way to produce and not harm the environment and people. It may be very difficult, you may not always succeed 100% and it’s definitely not the cheapest option, but I just don’t think you can get away with producing crap, nor should you want to.”
AG: Can you speak a bit about the materials, and the production process behind your pieces?
Anna: We think of something we want to do and then go and talk to people that can make it. Then we go back and forth with designs, adjustments, more adjustments until it is how we like and it and then we start production. We mainly use leather, but also cotton and felt. For the necklaces we use 14 kt plated gold and double coated metal.
AG: When you reflect upon the design world – art, jewelry, artisan culture and design – where do you see your role as a contemporary player in and amongst the competitive industry?
Anna: wow, a big question. Our role.. hm. I think we offer some items that currently aren’t there in the high-end segment that much. I haven’t seen any real competitors yet with the Korden for instance. Same goes for the camera straps. With regards to the design world, we like to touch all the disciplines in what we do in one way or the other. And there will be ever more involvement in projects in the future.
AG: The brand upholds this idea of tapping ones’ nostalgia, and holding onto or discovering the memories and good time – how do you relate your materials directly to these concepts? And what about your designs call attention to these ideas?
Anna: I think the fact that you ask this question already sort of implies that the materials and designs have something to do with these ideas and this is true, so good eye :)The materials used are quite traditional, same goes for the designs, but with a new twist/edge (I think the answer can also be found in some of the other answers). I am quite melancholic and I think this influences the products I/we like to make. When you are a romantic and a dreamer and quite morose at times this can be an overwhelming thing in your everyday life and for me I suppose it does influence everything I do. So naturally I will like this vibe in pictures, art and products as well. Luckily we are almost always on the same page with our taste in the products, so this vibe is rarely a topic of discussion.
AG: Based on VdB visual presentation and soft marketing display of the designs, did you have a particular audience in mind before product development or was this all a very organic process?
I suppose this is pretty much answered above. I will say here that our designs are meant for all people they appeal to, if that is not too vague. We believe in the concept that the product will find the right audience or the other way around. I am pretty sure that what we make are things that could potentially esthetically appeal to people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds and all of that, in that sense they are perhaps traditional. But we do try to make products that are quite different from what we’ve seen before. In their shape (the round bag) or in their purpose; not everyone will immediately get the idea of a cord for your glasses. Many of our friends first thought it was a bit strange to wear this thing, but when they saw it on someone or they experienced it’s practical use, many were convinced and can now not do without :).
AG: What were some of your goals in starting this label before establishing the line?
Anna: Just that we wanted to have a ‘good’ way of producing. The world is changing and we feel that when you start a company now, you should do it in the best way possible; look for a way to produce and not harm the environment and people. It may be very difficult, you may not always succeed 100% and it’s definitely not the cheapest option, but I just don’t think you can get away with producing crap, nor should you want to.
People don’t want that anymore. They want to know what they buy and hopefully they want to buy something ‘good’ that will last a long time.We want people to be able to give our bags to their children.
AG: What other designs/products could we look forward to?
Anna: There is a Mega Pizza Bag on the way. It’s a size bigger than the Big Pizza Bag and it’s pretty huge haha. One could buy small french terrace table and put it in there ;). We are also developing some leather camera straps. The ones we have now are with ethnic prints, these will be just leather. And we will have a knitted necklace and bracelet soon. Also we are creating a bracelet to go with the leather necklace. And after that there will be many other things (e.g. clothing items) that I won’t tell you the details of just yet. Enough ideas, that’s for sure!
AG: Among the different pieces (cords, purses, jewelry), where do you find yourself dedicating most of your time?
Anna: The bags demand a lot of time. They are quite difficult to make so it’s a very time consuming process. The Korden also took a lot of time, because we kept changing the design it took month’s before we had it right.
AG: Where would you like to see VdB in the next year?
Anna: We would like to have a few concept stores carry our stuff. In a few great cities like Stockholm, Copenhagen, Paris, London, New York, Milan. We are building our brand slowly, there is no rush. For instance, because they are so hard to make, there is now a waiting list for some of the Pizza Bags. It’s more about quality than quantity. Besides that we’d like to do some collaborations, maybe with a brand for sun glasses or something, we’ll see!
AG: What has been the greatest reward as a creative and young entrepreneur in establishing this label?
Anna: I think it’s just simply the fact that we made a product in the best way we could and someone is happily carrying it around. You can not see all the time and effort that was put into the product by just looking at it. So simple positive recognition of what we do is valuable to us. It’s all the little things, like a magazine calling for an interview or someone posting a Van der Borne on facebook, or someone telling you they always carry their Pizza Bag and are still happy with it every day. All of those things, that’s what’s the biggest reward.
AG: A favorite piece you have designed thus far, and what are you most excited about with VdB?
Anna: ooh difficult. The Pizza Bag is a definite favorite. We never could have dreamt it would turn out the way it did and the feedback being so great and all. But also the korden. I feel as though now people buy it because it looks cool, but then they are surprised by the practical use of it, which is great! 2 birds 1 kord. ha lame sorry.
AG: All things Dutch and Northern European design could be commonly regarded as minimalist, futuristic-meets-folklore, and well, curious-cool? :) That being said, are there particular native influences you carry throughout your designs? In other words, is there an Amsterdam trademark you aim to carry out in your work with VdB?
Hah, good question. Well we would like it if all of those terms applied to our products, but you can be the judge of that.. I suppose there is Dutch Design, which is a term for certain products from Holland and it’s pretty well known in design circles. Umm..Perhaps our products could be viewed as Dutch Design, since they were designed and produced here and might have a Dutch Design or Nordic feel for some people. But for my part; I don’t specifically feel our products are just ‘Dutch’ or ‘Nordic’, because to be honest I have no idea what that would really mean anymore. Somehow I see puting this label on it as a limitation.
When I say yes it feels like we sell some sort of cheese or tulips, when actually all of the materials we use are from different places in the world and the ideas might be from travels or times we spent abroad. Do you know what I mean? If somehow our cultural background is carried out in the designs then yes, there should be some native influences. But it’s definitely not deliberate and we definitely don’t claim any.
AG: What do you eat for breakfast?
I started eating porridge a few month’s ago and I am bummed I didn’t discover it before. I cook it with soy milk and put fruit, nuts and raisins in it and some ‘appelstroop’. It tastes delicious. It’s quite a heavy breakfast so you won’t feel hungry until your (late) lunch and this is perfect for when you like to snack, you won’t want to :)