FASHION ICON ANN DEMEULEMEESTER
on her new design call
“I wanted to try another kind of life – I wanted to be vulnerable again,” says Belgian designer Ann Demeulemeester about her decision to leave the world of fashion and focus instead on product design. Her first collection is a stylish series of tableware and lighting for Serax, available in Sweden through retailer Artilleriet. Below she describes the thoughts during the process, and the rewards of her new life in the countryside outside Antwerp.
AS TOLD TO
Hanna Nova Beatrice
“It was a big decision to leave fashion at the top of my career, but I wanted to get back to the essence of things. Fashion is linked to a a very tight time schedule and I made hundreds of designs a year. I didn’t have a set business plan when I left, but I knew I wanted to make products that stayed. I wanted to try another kind of life. I love to make what I need. That’s how I started doing fashion; I couldn’t find the trousers I wanted and set out to make them by myself. This new path was born in the same way. I wanted to make my own ceramics, my own plates and glasses. I had an exact idea of what I wanted, but I needed to start from zero and take lessons. Everyone told me that porcelain was too tricky, but that triggered me even more. The word ‘impossible’ is not in my vocabulary. But I had to learn to be patient.
Me and my husband Patrick always work together. We are makers. Whether it is clothing, furniture, vegetables or dinner plates, we both like to design and produce whatever we need around the house. We have been together since we were 16 years old. We grew into adults together. In design it’s easier to be two, you can discuss things. Patrick has a love affair with light and made the lights for the house, made of porcelain ribbons. It took a long time to find a way to make them, but I’m happy we didn’t give up. The light affects the whole room. I have never cared about labels, I am interested in beauty. I am attracted to things that carry emotion and I take care about what objects I bring into my house. As soon as you add something new, it affects the overall atmosphere. I care about every aspect of an object; the people involved in making it, the material and its proportions, and how it feels to touch. It all adds character.
”I have never cared about labels, I am interested in beauty. I am attracted to things that carry emotion and I take care about what objects I bring into my house. ”
I live in the countryside. I have my atelier in the house, I tend to my garden and I grow a lot of vegetables in summer. In a sense you could say I live as if in lockdown. When you stay put in one place, you notice things in a different way. You can see the evolution in nature from one day to another. You start to understand the importance of fresh air. I hope we will look after our planet better after the pandemic. We need to be brave and think in new ways. If women ran the world it wouldn’t look this way, I am certain.”