CONVERSATION

Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer

issue #26: inspiration-hunters

Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer, textile designer and MM Award 2022 Jury member. Welcome to Caleido, an inspirational diary, that narrates many stories: about creative people, trends, travels, objects. / Read the Editor’s letter here

Diary of: @maeengelgeer

Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer
Ph. Jerome de Lint for Folks
1. I would start with the claim of your work: “a world where elegant interplays of signature colours and graphic patterns evolve into sophisticated compositions and textures”. An extremely expressive phrase that leaves little room for uncertainty. How do you come to use textiles as a means of expression? How did this way make you fall in love?

Even as a child I touched everything I saw which looked interesting in structure or tactility. I do it without even realizing it. Then at my high school there was a course on Textiles on which I graduated at that young age. I think it was the moment that I really realized my interest, but I still had no idea what I was going to do next. Studying fashion seemed to be the right direction. While studying fashion I noticed that the material I was creating, for example knitting, silk screening and handwork, always became the focus of the creation instead of working with the shapes. I think textiles is the area in which I can express myself best and I love being surrounded by it.

Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer
VIVID Wall panel | Ph. N/J Studio
2. One of your missions is to ferry old textile production techniques to a more modern frontier. Can you tell us about a technique you have worked on that you are particularly passionate about?

The first rug I designed was made in Nepal by hand knotting. I required a very high pole, higher than that company had ever made, so it was a real challenge to develop new techniques to get the feel and touch I envisioned. This is always about getting the artisans to be open and enthusiastic enough to want to explore new ways of doing things. This is what I do in many of my projects. I have an idea of what the production should look like and then I study a way for it to be possible. Then we discuss it together and do trials. Within the rehearsal process, interesting ideas can emerge. These are things that you can’t think about while you’re designing, they’re like gifts I can say.

Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer
Cleaning process of BLISS yellow for @cc-tapis in their Nepalese atelier
3. Yours is a world of nuances. Do you find a parallel between this ‘harmonious and soft approach’ and your personality?

Yes, I think it reflects my personality, since I draw from intuition, my designs really come from who I am, what I like and how I dream. Then I like to find balance with the different elements I’m working with to create harmony. It is at that point that a work can be considered finished for me.

Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer
Mindscape MIMIC rug for @cc_tapis @spotti_milano with @acerbis_design
4. In your work you manage to combine your creative identity (always recognizable) with trends. How does the constant dialogue between these two components take place? Is there a creative process you follow to realize your creative compositions? Can you tell us about it?

I would say this comes from a belief that I follow and trust in the direction that interests and intrigues me and believe that is the right way to follow at that particular time. I don’t spend time looking or looking for trends. I think these are processes that you acquire and I think I have found a way to place them in my work and combine them with my signature. My signature comes from the way I make decisions, I think. It’s not a list I follow, it’s simply my method of creation.

Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer
Room divider at @rademakersgallery
Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer
Pink flame HONORÉ coffee table in limited edition of 21 pieces available at @rademakersgallery | Ph. N/J Studio
5. Are there other forms of expression, apart from your work as a textile designer, that you use to express yourself? Can you tell us about them?

Well, not really really…. I do like to laugh a lot which is an expression of happiness of course and sing songs in my mind which is a more introvert thing. When I was younger I loved to dance but sadly at some time I quit that. In addition to textiles, of course, I find my expression in home furnishings, the way I dress, and collecting items that pique my interest. All not too flashy, but I would say balanced.

Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer
Detail of BOLD WEAVE @rademakersgaller @textielmuseum
Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer
ULTIMATE BLISS natural for @cc_tapis
6. Speaking of inspiration: where do your creations come to life? Are there any creative rituals that help you to create?

I like to be in a space where I feel comfortable, like my studio or home or even traveling. I just need to feel good. Maybe with a nice coffee or something else, a glass of wine for example. I also find myself sitting on my living room floor mostly in the evenings. On a rug, of course, with my sketchbook, computer, television on and the lights dimmed. This is the quietest time of my day, when my kids are in bed.

Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer
studio scenery @maeengelgeer
Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer
LAVISH collection big rib sample next to the VIVID panel @textielmuseum | Ph. N/J Studio at @sem_milano
Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer
@maeengelgeer desk during the design of the MINDSCAPE collection for @cc_tapis
7. One of the most topical issues related to fashion, and consequently to textiles, concerns sustainability. How does your work take this issue into account?

Well, I find this issue increasingly important and when years ago it was just one aspect of the works, now it often becomes the most important in the development of a project. Most of the things I make don’t have stock, so no inventory is created. Most of the pieces are high quality and hopefully have a long life. Most of the fabrics can be recycled later or come from recycled yarns. In summary, I think this shows that we are already working with this in mind and one of the questions I would ask directly when I visit a factory would be, “Do you work with recycled yarn or do you have leftover pieces, cutouts that we can work with?” This is all pointing us in a new direction and new ways of creating for us as designers and I think it’s really interesting. We’re just at the beginning. I feel like we’re much more open and determined about this today, so I’m really curious to think about what it will look like in the future.

Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer
Graphic woven ERA tablecloth and napkins for the @textielmuseum | Ph. @floorknaapen
Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer
Graphic woven ERA tablecloth and napkins for the @textielmuseum | Ph. @floorknaapen
Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer
DAZZLING BLUE class panel @rademakersgallery @textielmuseum | Ph. N/J Studio
8. As a MM Award juror, what do you expect? What aspects of young creatives intrigue you most?

The first thing I ask myself when I see a project is if I can see the distinctive traits, the clear signature of that creative, if it manages to convey something new and fresh to me, a new or different way of working with materials, if it intrigues me and if I find it aesthetically pleasing.

Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer
SCOPE - MINDSCAPE collection @cc_tapis | Ph. @_marinadenisova_ | art @motel409 | @residenzalocation
9. What is one question you always wanted to be asked, but haven’t yet?

Let me think. One question no one has ever asked me is “What might you have become if you weren’t a textile designer?” I would have gone into the fragrance business, I think. I have a really good sense of smell. I find fragrances so important for atmosphere, so dreamy. Scent plays the same role as music. It can capture time, it can revive memories and create new ones. Imagine if I had become the creator of a big perfume brand! That would have been an exciting thing to do. I’m sure I would work the same way I’m working now. I would be guided by intuition.

Caleido interviews Mae Engelgeer
Bliss Ultimate Big rug @cc_tapis @maeengelgeer | Art Direction by @apartamentostudios | Photo by @piotrniepsuj | Styling by @dimitra_louana_marlanti
10. What is an object in your home that you would never give up? What is the memory attached to it? Can you send us a photo taken by you?

It is a set of ceramics bowl created by my daughter, husband and me while we were in Japan. We made it ourselves in a workshop at the brilliant Asahiyaki in Uji. The clay is 100 years old and has a pink, gray and sandy color without being glazed. It was a lot of fun. A special trip that is always good to remember.

@maeengelgeer
@maeengelgeer

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