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Category: Dutch Designer

Mar.ly by Marly Gommans

Monday, 11 February 2013 by Irene Hoofs


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

Founder of Mar.ly is Marly Gommans and she lives with Mark and their cat Ralph in Tilburg, the Netherlands. A link house in a charming old neighbourhood.

When you look out your window you see

We live in an old neighborhood that is being renovated. The neighborhood is very mixed, with lots of young families, as well as elderly people and students, close to the city (only 8 minutes on foot). I used to want to live in Amsterdam but that is simply unaffordable these days and now I actually prefer living in Tilburg as it is so centrally located in the Netherlands. Why Tilburg? Mark studied in Tilburg so it made sense for us to settle here and we’ve stayed on after Mark completed his studies. Historically, Tilburg has been quite an industrious town; hard working, friendly people who respect each other. Especially in a neighborhood such as ours this is very noticeable. Everyone is friendly and doing his or her own thing but still very much part of a close-knit community where no one really lives in isolation.

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

I like to watch art movies such as Les Amours Imaginaires! But this weekend we saw a Quentin Tarantino movie and I love that too, so I guess you could say I have broad interests ;-) There have been times when I could watch as many as 5 movies a week but on average about 3 or 4 for sure. I also like to mill around the house, organize things, DIY stuff. I can actually get pretty frightened by the idea that our house might actually be finished because we do not want to leave here yet. I was raised with the idea that when your house is finished, you move. I like to make things fit together in our home. It is different from designing for my work because that is really aimed at creating products. At home there is no rush to get things done and less pressure, so that gives me a nice and relaxed feeling. 



Do you take your work home with you?

I try not to do that and make my home really my home.  So I am very glad I have a work place outside of the house. The only work that I do at home is photo shopping. I am more relaxed at home and allows me to focus a bit more. I have two interns, so my day ‘at work’ is rather structured.

Do you use your designs in your own house?

Yes! The scratching pole ‘Cats in Style Scratch Post!’ of course, and the cat cushion and cat litter box and my bag ‘Woodbag’ is hanging on the coat rack in the hallway. The Dressed Wood cabinet XS is also in the hallway.



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

Almost everything here in this house has a story to tell, so I find it difficult to answer this.  For instance, to me personally, the scissors on the hallway wall are very important. They used to belong to my dad and before that to his grandfather. The little clock from Kiki van Eijk is also special to me because of the sweet inscription. When I read it, I thought: oh they really must have been happy with me. Kiki gave me the clock when I completed my internship with her.

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

Actually, I wanted to become an engineer. I had heard that from someone else and seemed like a pretty good idea at the time. We used to do a lot of arts and crafts at home though. My dad was always welding in his workshop making bicycles and my mother made jewellery and dolls, more as a hobby. I was raised with the idea that you can, basically, make anything. In elementary school, I participated in a jewellery-making contest organized by a local jeweler. They explained in class what you were supposed to do and I remember that half our class wasn’t listening when they explained the rules but I couldn’t wait to start. I really loved it that my design won first prize and they made a golden model of it with a real diamond.  I thought: this is it! This is what I want to do when I grow up. I found it so magical that my design became a real product. I already knew early on that I wanted to go to the Design Academy. 



What would you like to change in your home?

Probably its location. I would like to still have this house, but then perhaps in a quieter place. I like to listen to music at home. But here you always have to be considerate to your neighbors, so I cannot turn up the volume as much as I would like sometimes! 

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

I would prefer to live in an old house in a quiet neighborhood.  Not too old as we would not want to renovate it ourselves, but something with few walls and lots of glass and a view on the stables, and a field for my future horse. And a studio at the house would also be very nice. If you would have asked me this two years ago I would have said Amsterdam, so I wonder how I will feel about it in a couple of years from now ;-).



Who is your example/hero/favourite designer?

Maison Martin Margiela is really my hero. He has been for a long time. Everything fits into each detail. He puts his mark on everything in a very beautiful and refined way. The shops, each photo shoot, clothing, perfume bottles, everything makes sense. My heroes are mostly in fashion because they deal with designing in a very different way. Most product designers are only concerned with the product and in fashion it is the entire setting. For me that is design. It’s not that I would have wanted to study fashion instead as that would not have made sense for me either; I wouldn’t want to enter the battle of the fashion industry. It wouldn’t have given me the same positive vibe that I have now in my current work. 

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

I should probably take it easier sometimes. Things have to be perfect. I’m really into details. I can look for hours for the right toilet paper that ‘suits’ our toilet and our cat Ralph has been picked for his color ;-). He matches the couch exactly, ha, ha. Sometimes I think to myself: Marly, it would be better for your health if you would collect beautiful things a little bit less obsessively. But on the other hand, that is also why I do what I do. 

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

I look at fashion designers a lot. How they use materials. The products that I design are often designed with the material in mind.  For instance, the idea that wood and leather make a nice combination (Woodbag). My cat project ‘Cats in Style!’ came about out of necessity. We had to buy a scratch pole and a cat litter box, and I thought: this is impossible… I can’t let this into my house. This can be done better. Then I get eager to design it. This is a world problem ;-). 



Mar.ly's collection is available at BijzonderMooi ~ in Dutch ~ in English


..all images by Vorstin 
..translation by xPattyCake

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