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Niek Pulles: The promising fashion talent is insanely good!

27 October 2016

Niek Pulles and colleague Harm Rensink are cooperating in the Modebelofte (fashion talent) for the third time. This is part 2 of a series of short interviews with designers participating in Dutch Design Week.  

Modebelofte is a cooperation between you (Niek Pulles), Harm Rensink and You Are Here. How are the tasks divided?

“Immediately after the evaluation in November Harm Rensink and I start to brainstorm. While he focuses on the space and the design, I think about the exhibition concept and layout. Ellen Albers (You Are Here) challenges us to flesh out the exhibition differently each year, in a new location each year. Holly Syrett is in charge of production. This collaboration is pretty much organic by now: we complement each other really well. Even before we have seen the graduation shows, the concept behind the exhibition is solid as a rock. We’re always keen to see whether our ideas match those of the designers.”


Like every year, there is a theme. This year the theme is ‘Adaptive Travelers’. Please explain…


“With the concept, I prefer to call it, we translate the design talent’s vision. This year we were struck by ‘man in motion’. The infrastructure and our mobility are changing. At the same time many new materials are discovered. Materials to protect us, to move more easily or to make us faster. Because there is literally not a corner left in the world to discover, and mobility is increasingly often a necessity rather than a luxury, autonomy is becoming increasingly important. This fact turns designers into genuine inventors: they design how we will live tomorrow.”




In the past few years, you’ve seen a lot of new talent pass by. If you’re honest: are they good, the promising talents for 2016?


“They are insanely good! Every year we are astonished at the level, but now I’m more impressed than ever. That’s because material use is thought about so differently. Truly, upcycling and recycling at a completely different level. One of the talents, Helen Kirkum, said she thought it was so bizarre to be  educated to design ‘new products’, while there is still so much old junk to do something with. It gave her the idea of recycled sport shoes.”

Can you highlight another three? What are they showing, and why is that so special?


Wendy Andreu for example, developed the waterproof fabric ‘Rain’. A double-sided, reversible material (from water-repellent latex on the one side and cotton twine on the other) that can be produced three-dimensionally, making further assembly superfluous. This kind of material innovation also plays an important role in Timothy Boulez-Forge’s work. He managed to bring together art, design and technology in innovative, almost futuristically luxurious ladies’ fashion. And Marie Maisonneuve: she designed a  collection especially for modern nomads. Unique combinations of multifunctional clothing and bags, suitable for any type of trip, as light to wear as a lightweight tent.”


Finally: Dutch Design Week will be over in nine days’ time. Any idea what you are going to think up, do and make in the coming period?


“It’s a special week for me, because on Friday I’m leaving for Portland for a job as a materials designer in the Nike lab for Special Projects & Innovation. So this feels a bit like my last Modebelofte, while that isn’t actually the case. Of course, Harm, Ellen, Holly and I will keep in touch about the future of the Modebelofte. What’s more: we have wild new plans. But those will remain a surprise for the time being.”


‘The making of’ is the theme for the 15th Dutch Design Week. The anniversary year is an ode to the making process and the makers. Guests of honour are 2500 designers who made the event bigger, and the world just that little bit better, smarter, handier or more beautiful. For 9 whole days in Eindhoven they show their latest work and the best of what design has to offer.