The past couple of weeks have had me struggling with another bout of homesickness. Strangely, the images of tragedy striking New York City (again) made me feel like I should be there ... I've missed my New England roots many times over the last 5.5 years, but I haven't missed New York like I have these past weeks, seeing my old neighborhood (Tribeca) in pitch darkness, my old Subway stops under water ... Ah. Sandy's winds are pulling on my heart strings ...
But then last week I found some comfort in this beautiful letter from Emmy McCarthy, an expat to Amsterdam who founded the Amsterdam Mamas. As she says, as an expat, your definition of home shifts. Basically, it's wherever your kids are!
It's true, there's no force of nature bigger or stronger, when it comes to my heart strings, than Ruby and Juliette. And, this is their home. So, I continue to do my best to grow my own roots here, roots that don't give in to hurricane gusts of homesickness.
And, it's working, slowly but surely.
A couple of weeks ago I went to Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, but I really failed at taking good photos. I just didn't have the time or the right state of mind to enjoy it and to go to the two places I really wanted to go: the Graduate Projects Exhibition at the Design Academy Eindhoven and the studio/store/restaurant/city-unto-itself of Piet Hein Eek. Oh well ... Next year.
I did snap this photo of a billboard featuring the legendary Mr. Eek that I took from the train platform, overlooking the Strijp-S location at DDW (an old Philips plant which has now been converted into studio/office space for lots of creative businesses, a skateboard park, restaurants, cafés and event locations, a Farmer's Market, etc.) I think its footprint is as large, if not larger, than the entire downtown area of Eindhoven, and the city is subsidizing it in some pretty exciting ways.
What do you think of the quote on the billboard? It should have started with a "He ...", but other than that, is this true for you? Is your environment your studio, your neighborhood, your town, your city, your world?
Well, as environments go, I think mine is a pretty good one. For almost exactly 4 years now, I've lived between Eindhoven and 's Hertogenbosch, two of the major cities that comprise the Province of Brabant (seen on the map above) in the South of the Netherlands. Brabant is a candidate for European Capital of Culture 2018. From the always trustworthy Wikipedia:
"The European Capital of Culture is a city designated by the European Union for a period of one calendar year during which it organises a series of cultural events with a strong European dimension. Preparing a European Capital of Culture can be an opportunity for the city to generate considerable cultural, social and economic benefits and it can help foster urban regeneration, change the city's image and raise its visibility and profile on an international scale."
I read through the application while at DDW and I was truly impressed, both by its content and presentation. It is really amazing to think about all the things going on here, between Eindhoven being 'Brainport' (the city with the highest average IQ and largest number of patents per capita) and home to the world-renowned Design Academy, Philips and ASML Headquarters, the Textile Museum in Tilburg, Vlisco in Helmond, history and beauty and charm in 's Hertogenbosch ... And I know I'm forgetting a lot of things. I could have picked a worse place to expatriate to, that's for sure.
One thing I did accomplish at Dutch Design Week is that I met with an interior designer who is developing a product line comprised of different ranges: rugs, tablecloths, tableware, vases, wallpaper, etc. We may become partners in producing a line of wallpaper! Last week I spent about two hours learning about licensing contracts for artists, as ours would be a relationship where I would be paid royalties on net sales. It's all described very clearly in a handy reference I can recommend: Licensing Art & Design by Caryn R. Leland.
After just two hours, I felt like I went to law school, at least on this subject. Some other great references on art licensing are Maria Brophy's blog and the Art Licensing blog by Tara Reed. These two experts on the subject have recently collaborated on this book, which has also gotten a lot of positive reviews.
I'm also working on a commission for a private home (my first one!) and learning that this is my favorite way of working with clients: visiting their spaces, hearing about their inspirations, their stories, looking at their furniture and coming up with a unique solution for their walls. Then wallpaper becomes much more that just decoration; It becomes a truly personal and unique reflection of the spaces and their inhabitants. It becomes and experience and a story in and of itself, as all things in our homes should be ...
Over the last month or so, I've been doing a lot of thinking about my natural focus and how I want to approach this massive market of surface design in a unique and authentic way, and it's all beginning to take shape. Now I'm toying with the idea of (one day) finding a little shopfront in the village of Vught here and turning it into my studio/gallery/shop, where customers can walk in and have a consultation, request a commission, see past projects on display, etc. How's that for putting down some roots?! I think the 'seed was planted' (so to speak) when I read this post about bloggers opening brick and mortar shops (a new trend, apparently). But then last week I was biking by some of the charming village shops in Vught after dropping Juliette off at daycare, and I suddenly saw myself moving in (someday) ...
What do you think? Pretty charming, right?
These past weeks I've been so busy that design work has progressed slowly, but here's a peak at the poppies I've been pondering ...
Or, perhaps you prefer a more dramatic, dark and mysterious palette?