- Art & Design
Daring to let go of certainties and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. These are two things that many people have difficulty with, but they can also be rewarding. Nathalie Van der Massen tells us that this is how she became the successful designer she is today.
The name of this designer probably already sounds familiar to many in the Belgian interior and design world. Nathalie Van der Massen has been able to make an interesting and successful career for herself in only a short time, which has evidently also put her on our radar. At the age of eighteen, she moved to the big city of Antwerp, where she started her studies in Graphic Design. During her years at Sint Lucas she came in contact with textiles quite haphazardly. We might even be able to call it love at first sight. This 'chance encounter', as Van der Massen describes it, was a real confirmation that she was on the right track. Her textile designs appear delicate and serene, but in their own way contribute to creating a unique atmosphere in an interior. Van der Massen prefers to work with natural materials such as linen, which also requires a great deal of knowledge and craftsmanship. We contacted her for an extensive interview about her career, creations and vision for the future.
'I surround myself with things that are valuable and nurturing’
Why did you decide to start your own studio and what challenges did it bring?
'After I graduated, I had a strong gut feeling that I needed to stay focused on my own practice. So I had a steady job as a designer for a number of years where I always made it a point to be able to work for myself one day a week, without earning anything in the beginning. I thought of this as a kind of investment in myself. It has been a long process for me to realise that in order to really get ahead you have to let go of a lot of “certaintie”'. Although my environment has always been very supportive, I have always worked alone and there was not always a sounding board I could turn to. During the first year, I searched for this myself through coaching, discussions with my colleagues, entrepreneurs and also with potential clients. You have to dare to put yourself in a possibly vulnerable position in order to grow. This was and still is one of the most intense things I've done, but I'm satisfied with my trajectory.' How would you describe your style and fabrics?
'Intricate, tactile, serene, layered, graphic, deconstructed. It's fascinating to learn about and use the characteristics of a particular material. I am attracted to natural materials, especially linen. This material has a kind of stubbornness and is not easy to work with, it requires a lot of skills and knowledge to work with this material. I think that welcoming those qualities, or even defaults or imperfections, is typical of my work. Textile is a heritage that fortunately is still very much alive here in Belgium (and Europe). That's why I mainly work with Belgian (and European) manufacturers.'
What influence do trends or technological innovations have on your work?
'Although I think I am subconsciously influenced by them to some extent, I am not really concerned with trends. I try to consciously surround myself with things that are valuable and nurturing in all aspects of my life. I'm also a bit of a “technerd” when it comes to textiles, so I do think it's very important to keep doing research and to go back and forth with people and experts from my and other sectors who can help advance my own work.' If you want to learn more about the work of Nathalie Van der Massen, be sure to read our full article in Imagicasa Spring 2021.
Photography by Senne Van der Ven