Issue 9

SABINE
MARCELIS

Magical Moments

Photos by Cleo goossens Words by Linda Moers

Bing! is one of those sounds that typifies the age we are living in—the signal that someone has entered a digital meeting room. This particular Bing! on a late October afternoon heralds the arrival of Sabine Marcelis on the screen to talk about her internationally acclaimed work as a designer with her own design studio for materials, installations and objects—and reveal glimpses of her many roles as boss, mother and daughter.

Magical 

MOMENTS

 

 

Studio Sabine Marcelis—a studio for material, installation and object design. Forever in search of magical moments within materia­lity and manufacturing processes to create unexpected experiences.

 

 

 

So here we are sitting behind our screens. Tell us where you are right now.

S

M

I’m at home in our guestroom. This is the only actual room we have in the house, because all the rest is one big open loft. In fact, I’m not working from home regularly these days; I just got back from the studio. Though I am spending a lot more time at home than usual.

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Is that due to Covid-19?

S

M

Because of that, and also because I had a baby in February. It was the perfect moment to have a baby because while I had to be at home, everyone else was at home as well. The world slowed down a bit, and I felt like it gave me breathing space to take a step back from my work. At the same time I didn’t feel any FOMO (Ed.: fear of missing out), because nothing else was happening while I was taking this time out. But I feel like I am living someone else’s life this year. (laughs) The past few years I’ve been travelling non-stop, running from one event to the next, also travelling a lot for different projects, or simply hopping on a plane to attend a meeting, for instance. In 2020, I haven’t stepped onto a plane all year. That’s quite strange for me, but also in a good way. I’m certainly never again going to travel as much as I used to. It is completely a) irresponsible and b) unnecessary.

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Is your studio nearby?

S

M

Yes, I live in the west of Rotterdam, and that’s where I am now. My studio is about ten minutes away both by bike and by car, more to the west towards the harbour. It’s in the old fruit harbour where fruit used to arrive from all around the world. Now as the city is expanding, it’s sort of swallowing the old harbour and pushing it more towards the ocean entrance, but it’s still a really industrial area. I enjoy having my studio there. The company that produces most of my work is in the same building, so that means we are really close to the production operations. It also underpins the unique point of view that I have as a designer, as we actually work from the production process instead of sketching an idea and then letting someone else think about how to make it.

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Let’s take a step back out of Rotterdam. You spent a large part of your life in New Zealand. What made you come back to the Netherlands?

S

M

When I was ten, my parents had a sort of early midlife crisis, and the outcome was that we emigrated to New Zealand, where I lived between the ages of ten and 23. That was where I started to study design, but it was quite a traditional approach: like really hardcore industrial design, where it’s about optimising a production process. How to make an injection mould for a little component. It was only preparing you to be an employee in a company that designs washing machines, say, and this just didn’t interest me that much. There was no space in the design thinking process for being poetic. After two years I definitely got a bit restless. I wanted to expand my horizons within my studies, but ­also within where I was living, because I believe it is all very much connected. If you stay in one spot you end up in a bubble. And as I have a Dutch passport and the Design Academy in Eindhoven is a very well-known school with its own unique approach, I thought I would love to go to that school and finish my studies there—but always with the idea that I would move back to New Zealand straight afterwards. I just wanted to experience a different point of view at the Design Academy, graduate and then go back to my life in New Zealand. Well, it didn’t really pan out that way. (laughs)

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