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Category: Dutch Designer

Mae Engelgeer: Studio Mae Engelgeer

Monday, 21 May 2012 by Irene Hoofs




{Photography: Marjon Hoogervorst ~ Words: Sandra Jacobs ~ Translation: Nanette Watson}

Face-to-face: a designer's profile with Mae Engelgeer from Studio Mae 

Mae lives with (Do)minique and Evy Leigh in a ground floor apartment of a house in de Pijp, a wonderful neighborhood in Amsterdam ... 'small but lovely' she says. 

When you look out your window you see

A large new housing block, inspired by the old Amsterdam style. Beautiful and neat, but not entirely convincing I think. This is a narrow street with almost no green, really city-like. We were renting here before and we recently bought the place. As soon as you walk out of the street, you get into the lively area of town called ‘de Pijp’. That’s great! 

What do you like to do most when you are at home?

We mostly like to sit here at the small round table enjoying a meal with friends or just between the three of us. My boyfriend is a great cook. I’m not such a good cook myself, so I much rather prefer to eat (laughs). Of course I do throw myself at decorating the table etc. A very nice spot in the house is the bed; other than sleeping in it we also use it as a play area for Evy Leigh at the end of the day. A real family moment.



Do you take your work home with you?

Since we have Evy Leigh, I am better at ‘switching off’. As long as she is awake at least. As soon as she is in bed, I switch on the computer, and in between I check my email via my phone etc. I try to do as little work as possible during weekends, which isn’t really that realistic seeing I’m running my own company. I’m also thinking about it a lot. But I do try to also have quality time with family and friends. I sit behind the computer a lot and sometimes I need Do to pick up some work as well. I’m looking around for a new studio (in a laid back kind of way), also to increase visibility of my label. As soon as I have that, the big computer will go there. I have of course a laptop at the studio…

Do you use your designs in your own house?

Only recently. I never had large supplies and thought it a shame to have the designs in my own house but then I suddenly thought: why not? The samples are now in my house to test whether the fabric stays nice and if something actually ‘works’. My own designs also suit our house well, so why not enjoy them myself as well? Of course it is also a kind of calling card.


What would you take with from your house if you were only allowed to take one thing?

Jeez, that is a tough question. Almost anything is replaceable. Apart from old baby photos, I wouldn’t really take anything. We don’t own any artwork or antiques. We do own design products, but oh well…those are material possessions in the end. Oh no, wait…I have a new love: my Marc Jacobs handbag. I received this bag from my boyfriend for my 30th birthday. That bag is very precious to me. I have a few old necklaces from both my grandmothers, I would like to take these and some babythings of Evy Leigh, like her blanket. Also the iMac with all my designs on it ;-)

Was there ever a moment while growing up where you thought: yes, I’m going to be a designer?

I did like to draw a lot when I was a child. I had a lot of patience. I remember winning a lot of prizes. At a certain point my friends didn’t even want to participate anymore because we were always winning the prize. I was a bit of a ‘jumping jack’ and I dressed differently from other kids (funny combinations). I wanted to dress differently but my mother and sister advised me not to…So I didn’t until later...My mother and my sister thought I didn’t have any fashion sense. They have since then reconsidered and also own my products. I was also always redecorating and restyling my room and would save for a really nice vase or something.

When I finished high school, where I took a course in textiles, I went to the fashion design academy and realized early on that I really like textiles. A design starts with a feeling. By doing and experimenting something develops. I love the soft feeling of fabric. I look at the combination of colour and patterns. At first, my work was very ‘free form’ but now I like it more that my designs are really used, so that is why I switched to functional objects. My newest collection, WOWW,  started from a colour image. I also wanted to do something graphical and colourful. Bright colours in combination with patterns is really Mae.


What would you like to change in your home?

I wouldn’t mind adding a floor. A bit more space in other words. Then we could also get a bigger couch and one of those nice showcases, and… Now everything ‘just’ fits and that is also OK.  

Where do you want to live 10 years from now? What does your dream house look like?

I would still be in Amsterdam. I do not want to leave from here. I love the liveliness. Go everywhere by bike. The ultimate would be an old house that you can make ‘new’ again from the inside, at the edge of Amsterdam with a bit of green and animals, and a nice studio at home. 

Who is your example/hero/favourite designer?

Vivienne Westwood for how she approaches live. I think she is exactly who she projects to be. Something she said once I will always remember: ‘I have earned my wrinkles by working hard’. That is pure and real!



Name a negative trait of yours that is causing you the most problems

I am a bit too ambitious at times and have a real drive to go for something! Having Evy Leigh has taught me to be live in the now more and enjoy the moment. I do still want too much in too little time, and I plan everything in too tightly, which makes me having to rush all the time. But I am getting better at this…

What inspires you? Do you perhaps have a favourite blog or website that you like to visit?

Inspiration is a feeling. I get inspired by all kinds of things. By fashion in the street, by nice packaging of cookies, etc. I love to visit different blogs, like April and May… I like looking at blogs with nice images. It inspires me.


 The Mae collection is available at BijzonderMooi ~ in Dutch ~ in English ~ in German

..Mae Engelgeer

..all images by Vorstin 

Photographer Marjon Hoogervorst has made many more beautiful images for this series if you would like to use some for a publication please drop her an email. 

..translation by xPattyCake

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