NOORTJE DE LA HAYE COLLECTHINGS
Noortje De la haye
COLLECTHINGS Interview with Noortje De la haye, graphic designer & collector Your studio is also your home. Or rather, your home is your studio. I see that you have
Yes, I have one desk in the living room and one in the bedroom. I sometimes like working in the living room where I can see people passing by. Other times, I prefer the more isolated bedroom, where I can see the trains passing by. What’s two desks. Why is that?
your story? You are a designer now. You graduated last year, but what kind of design is
First I studied in Diepenbeek. I did a four-year interior design course, followed by a two-year course in graphic design in Hasselt. Did you hear about TOEGEPAST afterwards? Is that when you applied for the programme? Not exactly. I definitely planned to apply for TOEGEPAST. But in the summer of 2011, my graduation project In Vervoering won a wild card in the Design Platform Limburg prize. What was your project about? It’s for people, especially commuters, who travel by train. I made two booklets for them to read on the train. Do you have them here? Would I be able to see them? Sure, I’ll get my box with my portfolio. I don’t have a portfolio booklet; I prefer to store my projects in a box. I made these two books, perfect pocket-sized books, that contain samples I selected from novels, travel guides and other non-fiction works. All of these texts are about what you see when you look out the window. I wanted to encourange people to look outside and see the exciting things that are out there. I also collected postcards. I’ve got around 2000 now. Most are old and have been sent to someone. People buy postcards so that they’ll remember where they’ve been or to share their travel experience by sending them to family and friends. Are you heading in a similar direction with the project that you’re working on now? Not exactly, my new project is about the objects that we have at home. Like my last project, it’s about paying more attention to the things around you, but this time it’s about objects that surround you at home, things that you may never give a second thought to. A reflection of what we possess? Yes, a lot of designers, like Jasper Morrison and Bruno Munari, have been focussing quite a bit on these objects. People need to marvel again at normal things. It’s also about collectors. Most of us collect ordinary things. Everyday objects? Teabags, coasters, glasses,… You are planning to visualise this reflection on everyday objects in a graphic design project? Yes. It will be a sort of coffee table book, a book that can be placed on the ‘coffeetable’ and that will help you see the objects that surround you in a different light. What size? I don’t know yet, but it will definitely be bigger than a pocket. Do you have one of these objects here as an example? These two objects here: a wooden kitchen brush and a peg. I like the textures and the simplicity of the designs. What will the title be of the project? Collecthings. Makes sense. It does. (laughs) Do you have any specific expectations for the it specifically?
pegtop & kitchen brush
I’m really happy to be involved in TOEGEPAST. It’s all very exciting. What about the process? Are you project and your participation in TOEGEPAST?
happy with the way things have gone so far? Do you have the feeling that it’s taking
It’s a growing process. The more we meet, the happier it makes me. It’s unusual for someone who has recently graduated to get an opportunity like this. Design Platform Limburg is taking care of everything. You are given professional photographs and regular coaching, you are here interviewing me and taking pictures of how I live and what I do, and at the end I’ll be part of an exhibition at Z33. All of this is exciting and extremely helpful. You sound really happy. It’s nice to see your excitement. What’s your relationship with the other participants like? It’s great to be involved with the others. You see similarities, even if they’re working in different disciplines. You learn a lot. Would you ever consider working together with any of them? Maybe in the future. Every now and then, I work with Willem Kissembeek. He studied with me for six years, and so he has a similar background. We have a lot of common interests. I like the crossover involved in working with other people. How do you make money? I guess you have a job on the side. I’m curious to know what it is. I work with product designer Linde Hermans. What do you do for her? I help her with a lot of different things: graphic design, scenography,… working for her is great. Is there something that she’s designed that you like a lot? Yes, a lot! This white ceramic bowl on the table is actually one of hers. It’s asymmetric and looks imperfect. One side is higher that the other and it gives you the impression that something is wrong with it. But that’s the whole idea. Do you like objects that surprise you? That have a little twist? Yes, indeed. But not necessarily. Some objects have no twist to them but they are just designed extremely well. Nonetheless, I really appreciate designers who can combine the two. You seem to be interested in you in the direction you want to go?
Noortje De la haye
I like to appreciate the things that we often forget about. And you want to show that in 2D, in graphic design? To me, when I make a book, it’s always in both 2D and 3D. You seem to be a shy person. You are very open to me, but when I take pictures you’re more reserved. That’s because I’m not really keen on having my picture taken. I also prefer still life photography to documentary photography showing people. What does your average day look like? Do you spend a lot of time in front of your computer? When I’m working on my own projects, I work at home or at a library. Being surrounded by books is inspiring. I also wander around the city a lot. This’s actually where I come up with ideas. You live next to the Hasselt train station. Does this mean you travel a lot? I like taking day trips to cities like Ghent, Antwerp or Liège. But what I like about living near the train station is that it’s a strange area. People many different themes, but mainly in the beauty of things that already exist.
collection of postcards
are different, or at least they behave differently. I like observing the city structures. My next trip is to Paris. I like the French capital a lot. What do you like about it? The atmosphere, the people, the architecture, the museums, the language. Is it inspiring for you? For sure, but it’s not only the beauty of a city’s famous sites that inspire me. Do you speak French? Not really. I’m not so good at languages. But you are good in creating images. Maybe as a designer, but I’m not a professional photographer. I just photograph things how I like to see them. These are mostly photos of abstract objects and still-life images and they show how things can relate to each other. I often get more satisfaction from making a composition of objects for a still life picture than by actually taking the picture. As a graphic designer you also create graphic images. I do. Can you name three 5
Selecting only three books is difficult. The first one would be Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer, with graphics designed by Sara de Bondt. They changed the content of an old book by leaving out words in a very beautiful way. It’s a nice example of how a writer and designer can work together. My second choice would be Metropolitan World Atlas by Joost Grootens. I like atlases and books that you can search and navigate through. My third favourite is Libro Illeggibile by Bruno Munari, because of the tension between simple forms and colours. What I admire most is that he treats the book like a three-dimensional object. Your favourite books that would make a collection of visually pleasing postcards?
graduation project is very much text based and the books function as a way to tell stories,
I like texts a lot. I’m not very good in languages or writing myself, but I like
the sideboard in the entrance hall
present content, with less focus on visual appearance. How does it come?
reading and listening to people who can express themselves well. I also like the relationship, the crossover, between text and image. That’s why I included the postcards as a visual counterpart of the fragments. How did you come up with Collecthings? I collect postcards. Everybody collects something. You buy these things, organise them and put them on display. When I moved to this apartment I took a closer look at the things I possesed and I couldn’t believe how much it was. I guess that depends on how you look at things. And the reason why you collect them. Do you collect anything else besides postcards? Not specifically, just objects that I like for one reason or another. That’s what I want to show with Collecthings.
Noortje De la haye
workdesk â€“ bedroom
TOEGEPAST 17 NOORTJE DE LA HAYE www.noortjedelahaye.be firstname.lastname@example.org photographs Matylda Krzykowski text Matylda Krzykowski translation Rachel Griffin, Earnest Studio graphic design MaisonCaro & Kahil Janssens coaches Kaspar Hamacher & MaisonCaro toegepast17.wordpress.com TOEGEPAST 17 is organized by Design Platform Limburg. www.designplatform.be With the support of Z33 â€“ House of contemporary art. www.z33.be Zuivelmarkt 33, Hasselt (BE)