Do I need school to be...

a material researcher and designer? with Nienke Hoogvliet

October 21, 2021 Alex Villacís Season 1 Episode 13
Do I need school to be...
a material researcher and designer? with Nienke Hoogvliet
Show Notes Transcript

It’s Dutch Design Week and I’m so excited to have Nienke Hoogvliet from Studio Nienke Hoogvliet on the podcast who is showing at this awesome event. This is a design studio for material research, experimental and conceptual design. The studio is based in The Hague, The Netherlands and the projects raise awareness of social and environmental problems in the textile, leather and food industry. In this episode we talked about:

  • Where Nienke’s love for nature came from
  • Her projects with the textile industry
  • Her formal design education
  • The process of creating a design studio

And more! 

Curious about Nienke and her work? Here are some links for you:
The Studio’s Website
Nienke’s Instagram
The Studio’s Shop
On Dutch Design Week
Nienke's episode on Green Canvas Podcast

In an effort to make this podcast accessible, we make transcripts of every episode. You’ll find the transcripts on our website here:
https://doineedschooltobe.buzzsprout.com

Want to support the pod? Follow us on social media, share us, review us or buy us a coffee!
‘Do I need school to be…” on Instagram
‘Do I need school to be…” on Facebook
Buy me a Coffee

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/dinschool2b)
Nienke Hoogvliet:

And I hope that the art education will go really in that direction like pushing more towards this individual belief but at the same time, don't lose that we can work together when we share the same goal, because it is very important to we're not just individuals but we are all connected.

Alex Villacis:

Hello friends and welcome back to another episode of Do I need school to be done a podcast in which we Alex is going to sit down with people in the creative industry or who are creative in their industry. And we'll talk about how they got to where they are, who influenced them what books they read, or who their mentors were, and we'll also talk about where education is going to go in the future. My guest this week is Nika hoglet, who is a designer and studio owner, her studio student and get Hoefler is a design studio for material research, experimental and conceptual design. If you don't know what that is, don't worry about it. We get into it in this episode. And if you're listening to the week it comes out she will be on Dutch Design Week. And if you're in the Netherlands, I recommend that Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven is the largest design event in Northern Europe, and presents work and concepts from more than 2600 designers and has more than 355,000 visitors from home and abroad. So kind of a big deal. And I'm very happy to have her on this week on the pod. This is a great conversation. And I really hope you enjoy it. small detail. Oh, and also kind of an apology turns out that when we recorded this, I didn't realise it was recording on my computer's microphone and not on my personal microphone like the one that I'm using now. I'm really sorry about that. I do hope that you will still enjoy the interview because Minkus parts are clear and perfect. So let's begin. And here is my conversation with ninka hoffler. heininger Good morning. How are you?

Nienke Hoogvliet:

Hi, good morning. I'm fine. Thank you. Thank you.

Alex Villacis:

I'm also very good I, we spoke a little bit before I started recording, it's been a morning. So let's begin, tell the audience who you are and what you're currently doing.

Nienke Hoogvliet:

So yeah, I'm Nico fleet. I'm a designer or an artist or a bit of both maybe I have a design studio called studio amigo fleets that I now run together within your areas. And we are based in The Hague and have and we are researching how we can change or shape new perspectives through design. So we are searching for ways how we can change the world and make it a bit of a better place by using design.

Alex Villacis:

I love that there's this misconception that designers only work on aesthetics, and that we only work on one direction. And I think a lot of them do. But during that green Canvas interview, I loved hearing how you are exploring about what the toxins are already clothing, how to reuse plastic, and just being creative with materials that already exists in finding a way to actually reuse them and repurpose them. It was great, I will definitely link that interview in the show notes. Because it really I found that really inspiring. So thank you How did you have to get here? So when this this curiosity start with the Were you always creative or and how did you get here?

Nienke Hoogvliet:

Yes, I come from a family where my mom was a very creative role is still is a very creative person. And especially in the direction of textiles My family has been, are my great grandparents have been tailors and their parents. So I think textiles it's sort of related, or it's sort of connected to my DNA. But at the same time, I think my dad is maybe the more idealistic, idealistic person. So he, yeah, I think I got a bit of both of them. And I only learned how to connect those to the idealism and the creativity in art school. So I studied at a bit of mckone Academy and alter them in the Netherlands. And I slowly started to see how art or design can be a medium to Yeah, to tell a story.

Alex Villacis:

That's, that's so interesting that you had these two parts of you and these two influences. And then through formal education, you brought them together. And what was what was your experience like in art school? Was that everything you expected? Was it challenging? I think there's this idea that art school is an easy place, we get grades with you get a happy walrus. A you didn't do so good. You get a frowny raccoon. What was your experience like with formal education?

Nienke Hoogvliet:

My education has been very important to me, but it has not been the most Important thing, I think. After graduating, I started my own studio immediately because I wanted to learn more. by researching myself. It's not that education in art school, didn't allow me to research myself because they really pushed on it. So yeah, what the course that I did is called, now lifestyle trends from transformation design. But when I did it, it was called lifestyle and design. And it was a very wide education. So people were that we work towards about trend forecasting about concept development, about styling for fashion, and interior, we were taught about photography, graphic design, like a lot of different things, which was really great. And it really helped me to see how big this creative field is. And it was also very free. So within all these disciplines, we could say like that discipline,

Alex Villacis:

yeah, that

Nienke Hoogvliet:

you were allowed to, to follow your own hearts and twos to focus on what you liked most. So I think that was very important to, to try out all these different aspects and then see what suits me. But that also means that, yeah, when I found out what I wanted to do, I was almost already graduated. So that's when I started the studio. And that's when I think I really found my passion on what I want to do and what how I want to tell my story, and what kind of a designer or artist I want to be.

Alex Villacis:

What I'm hearing, and please correct me if I'm wrong, is that art school was not it was a, it was a step. It wasn't the step there is this idea that to be artists are designed to me to go to art school, because that's the step. That's the validating step. But sounds from what you're saying that he was just a step on the ladder that started before with your parents and with your grandparents in Texas, and then you took that step to event to get to know yourself better, but he was part of your process. It wasn't the key part of it. But it was a great part of it.

Nienke Hoogvliet:

Yes, I think you perfectly summarise it like that. Yes.

Alex Villacis:

So and now tell me about your teacher. So you have spoken about your family that influenced you, and probably open your eyes had guided you in some way. And then teachers in and you also had teachers in your formal education in the in the academy? What was that? Like? Did you notice a difference between how well you push more in the academy, I'm guessing, or you're really also pushed at home?

Nienke Hoogvliet:

No, I think my parents were very free. They never really pushed me into anything. So in art school, it was a bit different. Because then you they want to open your eyes, they want to see. And I think that's also the most important lesson I learned in art school is the way you see the world around you and the way you look at certain topics and how you can be inspired by them. But some of my teachers, they of course want to want you to see the world through their eyes. I think this is a bit of a difficult part about art is that it's always subjective. And sometimes I didn't agree with the teachers because I saw things differently. And that meant that, yeah, even though a teacher was maybe pushing to do go into a certain direction with the project, it was so important to stay true to yourself. And that is what I loved learning most is that you should not listen to others, but you should listen to yourself. So

Alex Villacis:

I love that I love so I was actually going to be my next question. Like what happens with feedback, because one of the key points of having teachers and having mentors and stuff like that is that they keep you feedback. But then there's also the key step in saying maybe I don't want to take these feedback, maybe this is not. And that comes to critical thought on the students science and saying, they're pushing me in that direction that I don't want to go. I want to go this art direction and say like, thank you for your feedback. I appreciate it. But I'm gonna go this other way.

Nienke Hoogvliet:

Yeah, I think it was very funny because I had one teacher who actually was quite important to me, but I could never understand his feedback. I just didn't understand what he was saying. And at first I always tried to interpret what he was saying and Yeah, to make the best out, like moving in his direction of what I thought the feedback meant. But I never got it right. So at a certain point, I thought, Okay, I'm gonna take his feedback, but I don't understand what he's saying. So I'm gonna do anyway, what I want to do myself. And at that moment when I started to do that my grades went up, and he also liked my work better. So I think that was a very important lesson for me to to stay true to myself.

Alex Villacis:

Yeah, maybe that was the lesson in itself. Yeah,

Nienke Hoogvliet:

maybe. Could be that so

Alex Villacis:

matter. He's feedback was a lesson on how to take feedback.

Nienke Hoogvliet:

I should ask him this day, maybe one day.

Alex Villacis:

Maybe he'll be like, Oh, you find them? The classic art school? Yeah, episode. Yeah, that's

Nienke Hoogvliet:

classic art school, I think. Yeah.

Alex Villacis:

Sitting at night putting together pieces of a puzzle that don't exist. Would you say that was the most influential teacher the one that really marked you? Yes, definitely. And did you have any others when you were younger, that pushed you into this direction that made you say, Oh, I can do this? Or maybe I shouldn't go this way. I interviewed a person who's whose teacher once told him, you're too ugly for radio.

Nienke Hoogvliet:

Wow. That's mean.

Alex Villacis:

Yeah, I thought, wow, that's, uh, that wasn't necessary.

Nienke Hoogvliet:

Yeah. But maybe it's not a very relevant experience. I didn't know. But when I was in primary school, my teachers also told me that I wasn't smart enough to go to VWO.

Alex Villacis:

hey, everyone, me again, Alex, the one that has a terrible audio in this episode. Nienke asked me to clarify in this short intermission what VWO is, in the Dutch school system, you are divided into different categories when you're in school. And febbraio is the course that you have to take if one day you want to go to university. So her teachers telling her that she wasn't smart enough for that men that they felt that she was smart enough to go to college one day. So yeah, just a little context of that. Also, now that I have you here, I would like to also tell you that if you're listening to this episode on Apple podcast, and you're not subscribed, you won't be able to see the show notes, all the links that I have there. And they range from the incus work to some recommendations to her past episode on green Canvas, which I would 100% recommend. So if you want to get access to those links, you can go to the website, which is do I need school to be thought buzzsprout.com. Or you can subscribe to this show and get access to the links of this episode and all past episodes. So yeah, enough of my babble. Let's go back to ninja.

Nienke Hoogvliet:

And I was very determined that I wanted to do gymnasium so with Greek and Latin languages. And when they told me I couldn't do it, I, I felt pretty bad. But it also made me determined that I will show them that I can do it. And then I did it. So I dropped the Greek and the Latin as a third year, but I did have a female and yeah, I think I think that's also a recurring theme. Even later, when the studio when I started the studio, when people tell me something is not possible. I get more motivated to, to actually show them that it is possible. So yeah, that can be an important lesson to

Alex Villacis:

that's taught us an important lesson. That's amazing. You see this? You take it as a challenge, like that. And you're like, Okay, maybe you can't do it. Let's see if I can. Exactly. And those things also shape you those are. That's why I wanted to talk about in the questions I sent through like war, like not so great teachers, because they also teach you something, they maybe teach you how not to teach, or to teach you how to grow resilience and be like, Hey, I am a resume person. I am going to take like you said that I'm going to push through it. Exactly. Yeah, that's great. And now that you're developing all these techniques, and you have all these knowledge that you have gathered, I especially like the one about the fish out the fish skin from the ports. Do you see yourself as a teacher or as or putting processes in a way that you can eventually teach them to others?

Nienke Hoogvliet:

I see myself I think defined depends a bit on how you define the word teacher

Alex Villacis:

loosest sense of the word, loosest sense of the word

Nienke Hoogvliet:

Yeah, well, my are our most important goal is To change perspectives, so what we want to do is we want to research a certain topic and then show people how it can be different. And I think that's, that's always our goal, you know to that. We tell the story. And after people saw our work or visited our exhibition, they will think differently about something. And you could say that maybe that is something a teacher does as well, that teacher, no change perspectives to and then that opens your mind to a little bit better, but it has never been my goal. This has worked have to, because I don't want to lecture people. I think that's also a very important difference that I want to make people understand themselves. So when we work on a certain project, we hope that people understand themselves how, yeah, how things might be when it's different, I don't want to say you're doing something bad, but I want to show we can do something good. I don't know if that makes sense. But

Alex Villacis:

it totally does. And I think it's because we are hot, we are breaking through. Or we're leaving behind this hierarchical idea that teachers here and the students are here. Now sad, the teacher's job is just to lecture just like pour information into them. And we're evolving to a point with the teachers more of a guide. And in your case, taking people on say, this is what you know about the world about these materials about clothing, the clothes that you buy at a store this what you know, let me show you that there's more to learn. There's more ideas. There's all these toxins, I found that terrifying.

Nienke Hoogvliet:

Yes, it is terrifying. Yes.

Alex Villacis:

Wait, what? And maybe in this way, you can teach even more people.

Nienke Hoogvliet:

I hope so.

Alex Villacis:

that you could teach that you could teach just yourself just by you, you're creating this ripple effect around you that can affect way more people and just put out these new ideas and these knowledge. So I think that's wonderful.

Nienke Hoogvliet:

Thank you.

Alex Villacis:

And do you see yourself ever becoming a mentor? Like if somebody came to you and said, I want to do what you're doing? What do you think a mentor is in this new digital world?

Nienke Hoogvliet:

Yeah, I think I could be a mentor. I work a lot with interns, for example, as well. And I hope I can be sort of mentored to them. But if I would be a mentor, I'm always making sure that people follow their own, you know, their own personal beliefs, or their own fascinations or their own story that they want to tell. Because I only think you can make an impact when you are very true to yourself. So I don't want to teach people how to be like me, or to think like me, but I want people to get to stay true to their own self. And that's the most difficult lesson of all. Knowing what you want, and standing up to show what you want. It's, it's very difficult.

Alex Villacis:

But that's the direction you would push them to you to say like, hey, let's do things together. Let's figure out what you what you want to do and who you are.

Nienke Hoogvliet:

Exactly. Because my truth, it's not their truth, and their truth is not my truth. So you can, you can have a certain shared vision of the world, or you can share the same goals. But in the end, I think we're all our own. Yeah, we all follow our own process. And we all Yeah, our dreams might be a little bit different. And it's very important to stay true to that.

Alex Villacis:

I love that I love that idea of a shared vision that we can achieve all in our own unique ways. Bringing each of us our own unique talents and spectrums that maybe somebody who's very good at one thing makes much very good another thing, but it's about seeing how we can bring those together. Exactly what they are. Yes, yeah. That's beautiful. That's, that's a T shirt right there. That's a T shirt that's had that's a wristband, that's all the things and when it comes to it with this idea of finding a shared vision, where do you see creative education going in the future because it's transforming. Like I said before, it's going from the teacher breaking you apart, because they don't like your work and re putting it back together to now you Under no line you can learn at hope now that museums are opening again you can add art exhibits like yours where do you see it going in the future

Nienke Hoogvliet:

I think I think it's so very important that there is like good education but I think education should be more focused on not this collective idea of what art should be or, but really focused on this, how do people find their inner voice maybe when you look at graduate projects from graduation students you so often see projects that are a bit similar to others or to things that have been done already and then I'm sometimes a bit bit disappointed that because I don't think then that's really their true inner voice that you know, they've listened to, they looked at what society might expect or what society approved already so they do something similar. But if you really want to change something you need to you need to be true to yourself because it's always different than what someone else thinks. And I hope that the art education will go really in that direction like pushing more towards this individual belief but at the same time don't lose that we can work together when we share the same goal because it is very important to we're not just individuals but we are all connected so we need to we need to work together to change the world and I hope art school finds this balance between working together and pushing the individual side.

Alex Villacis:

and I think that now with the it because now we have the internet now more than ever it's possible to connect with other people and young people around the world and do you see it in the future pushing to combine silos to in the sense that design student in the Netherlands can work with an engineer in South America to come up with an idea to help push those things so you think that now creative education should start working on that combined vision with people who are outside of the art and design industry?

Nienke Hoogvliet:

Yes, I think well My belief is that we have one goal together now and that's to stop climate change. But of course not not every student feels like that so I think it's also important to respect when someone doesn't feel the need to talk about climate change them please don't talk about something else but I really hope that we can start to connect worldwide because it's a global problem that we have. But at the same time, I don't know from my experience this last year working digitally can also be quite difficult. When you've never met someone in person it is a bit different than when you have met someone in person and for some projects it worked very well and for others it's it's a bit complicated so maybe a combination of digital and in real life but I don't know how we could do that because you're you're not going to travel to South America every week to work together so that wouldn't be so sustainable either.

Alex Villacis:

I love that I love that you said that we cannot completely rely on technology I there is a lot of people are there's like now saying like oh we have Bitcoin everything is fixed. I'm like, no, it's we cannot fix everything with a digital medium. Yeah, that's very true. Especially because of your work because you design you work with materials. You were told me that the other way you are shearing sheep. Yes.

Nienke Hoogvliet:

So I wasn't doing it myself.

Alex Villacis:

That's an experience I have I am terrified of sheep. Let's let's start there. I I am terrified of sheeps and goats. I don't trust her eyes. I don't know what they're looking for. It freaks me out.

Nienke Hoogvliet:

I understand that a little bit.

Alex Villacis:

But definitely experience I mean there could you tell us a little bit more about that project like does he Are you working with the wool actually having it in your hands and everything?

Nienke Hoogvliet:

Yeah, what we are doing at the moment is it's for the upcoming Dutch Design Week in October. It's a project about fail us and value and how they are connected. So what we're doing is we're making two handmade carpets, one in the Netherlands and one in Armenia. And we're following the whole process from sheep to finished carpets. And we want to follow every step. So where did the sheep live? Where? who shares the sheep? Where does the wool go? Where is it worse? Where's its bone? Who is then making the carpet everything? And then we want to start this discussion with people. What are the important aspects about about these processes? Is it important that the one carpet was made in the Netherlands? So it's quite local? Or is it more important that, in Armenia, everything really happens on bond spots? Like one location is that so it's also quite local for the local in Armenia? And is it more important that the sheep walked through the mountains, or that they were in the meadows in the Netherlands, or that the wool was washed with chemicals, or it wasn't washed with chemicals. And so we want to get a bit of an understanding of how people fail you. process. And in that way, we hope to understand what creates value, not in a financial way, but more in like, the emotional way because if you really fail you an object, you hold on to it for much longer, I guess. And you maybe it becomes an heirloom or, you know. And I think that's also a very important aspect of sustainability is not just about using the most sustainable materials, it's also about creating something that has the most value it can possibly have. So that's why I was sharing cheap. We were documenting, filming and photographing the sharing of the sheep. Yeah,

Alex Villacis:

I love how that links beautifully what we have been talking about today, it's our teaching people, showing them new perspectives, opening their eyes to what they thought before milk, maybe somebody thinks like, okay, it's important that it's very local. Yeah, but can also be made locally somewhere else, like, Who are the people doing it. And then you're going deep into who is shooting the sheep, what kind of life is the sheep leaving. For the podcast, I interviewed chef, Chef michelly Fox, who is a chef in she's our resident, regenerative farmer and a chef. And she was telling me about how she believes in putting back to the earth not extracted from the earth, but putting also back when we take from it. And when it comes to animals, she was telling me, oh, I have a pig in my house. But a pig is called barbecue chips. What do you mean, it's like we're gonna eat this pig, eventually, so called barbecue chips. So my daughter understands that this pig is going to be food. Because how you treat this animal well to live is an important lesson to respect that when you're eating it, none of us, including everything in the process, and not saying only the outcome, which is in your case that to the to rugs, but also going into how was this made? Where did it come from? Who if anyone suffered when it comes to it and your other project about the toxicity of food, that company clothing? Because we're fast fashion, asking the questions, where was this made? Why wasn't made this way? Why was it necessary to make it this way?

Nienke Hoogvliet:

Exactly. And that's, I think, very important. sustainability. It's not just about using the right materials or the right process, but it's about an holistic applying and holistic efficiency, or you try to look at all the aspects that are involved, not just energy consumption, or chemicals, but also about the people who are doing it. And you know, the whole picture. Because if you don't look at the whole picture, then maybe you're forgetting an aspect that can have an it has a negative impact there. So yeah, it's sustainability. For me, it really is about applying this holistic vision.

Alex Villacis:

I really hope that is something that's also implemented into design education at some point.

Nienke Hoogvliet:

I hope so too,

Alex Villacis:

to make us think about, like you said, every play the entire process, the entire process, who's behind it, what can we do for it? And how can we work for these conjoined visions you mentioned?

Nienke Hoogvliet:

Yes, but how do we do that? I think it's quite well, it starts with teachers. I think it really starts with teachers and how the teacher should be aware of this and so they can teach them this. Yeah.

Alex Villacis:

Yeah. And that highlights the importance of teachers. And that's actually one of the reasons that I'm making this podcast that it's important, because they shape the future generations. Anytime. How are we going to integrate it, it's not just about talking to talk we should be staying at what we're walking the walk to work like the work that you do, but thank you so much for this interview has really been great. It has opened My eyes and show me a little bit about your process. And I love that and your background. So that's coming to that. Is there anything you want to plug or talk to the audience about? It can be books that you like a project that you're working on. movie that you love anything? What do you what would you like to plug?

Nienke Hoogvliet:

Yeah, I don't know. What can I say? Yeah, I already talked about the project we're doing, for instance, I make? Well, maybe it's important that people understand that, besides changing these perspectives, we, we are also working a lot on implementing them in industries. So for example, when, with the seaweed project, we made a unique piece that tells the story of how seaweed can become a sustainable material for the textile industry as a yarn and a dye. But we don't want to stop there, we want to really change the industry. So at the moment, that's something we are working on together with scientists, and I learned a lot from them as well, like, connecting different fields of expertise. It's really great to educate yourself. Yeah, so one day, it will be in an industrial process. And that way, yeah, we hopefully teach the industry also that things can be different.

Alex Villacis:

Yeah, that's amazing. Well, thank you so much for this interview. I hope you have a great day. And we'll definitely stay in touch. Thank you.

Nienke Hoogvliet:

Thank you so much. I enjoyed it

Alex Villacis:

And just like that, friends, we have made it to the end of the episode. I really hope you enjoyed it, and that you get got curious about an Incas work. I've been following her preparations on social media for Dutch Design Week. And it's going to be amazing. It's going to be great. It's an important topic and I hope you are going to look into it again. There are links in the show notes for you. If you want to see her previous appearances on green canvas and other work that she's doing and that she has on social media or her website. Just check it out. Thank you for joining me again this week. I hope you like it. Feel free to leave us a review on Apple podcasts or any podcasting app that you use, and to shoot us a DM reach out to us on social media via the website, all the things you know what to do you and yeah, I hope to be in your ears next week with another awesome interview. Keep learning stay curious and have a good week. Bye