Embracing chaos and intuition, Gerrit Rietveld Academy graduate Marije Seijn handcrafts unique—both in terms of style and quantity—garments, thoroughly made of recycled materials. Catching up with Glamcult, the rising designer told us all about the process of producing clothes out of dumped furniture, and about the colour palette that makes her designs so distinctive.
Your patchwork pieces were an instant favourite the second they came down the runway of Amsterdam Fashion Week. Did you see that coming?
No, I did not see that coming at all. Three days before the show I was considering to re-dye all the pieces—in black. [Laughs] I couldn’t see them anymore. Working on something very intense for quite a while makes your vision a bit blurry, I guess. Then a friend, luckily, came by and said he really liked it and that I should just put it aside for a bit. It’s always a very exciting, and also scary, thing to put your work out of your bubble—into the world.
Tell us about the story behind these looks. Any specific inspirations and/or motivations? And what did the design and production process look like? We’ve heard there’s a recycling aspect involved…
Part of the collection was a commissioned project initiated by the City of Amsterdam: a group showcasing garments all made from waste aiming to create more awareness. At that time the apartment block in front of my house got pulled down and lots of neighbours put their old furniture in the street. I cut away the leather from all the couches, cleaned it, and re-painted it.
My process is always quite chaotic and very intuitive. I usually make a quick collage before starting on a piece to see the colours and composition. Then I cut shapes directly out of the material, arrange and re-arrange them to finally compress them into clear, archetypal garments.
Because the process is so spontaneous, the result is a one-time thing, I cannot reproduce the garments. All the pieces are unique and this approach really works for me. It’s simple, clear and direct. I put so much love (and blood, sweat and tears) in every single garment, I hope people can sense that when they see or wear it.
We are in love with your colour schemes. How did you go about choosing these?
I’m always really attracted to red and blue, and I saw a painting by Jacob Lawrence, The Builder’s Suite, that was still lingering in my head when I was choosing the dye.
What does a normal day in the life of Marije Seijn look like? And what about a 100% perfect one?
When I don’t have a deadline coming up, I mainly walk around with my dog, drink coffee, see friends and make a lot of to-do lists that are never done. When I have a deadline, I work very long hours and sleep a few hours. A perfect day would be something like The Dance by Henri Matisse—but we would probably dance around a table of food.
Where do you hope to see yourself five years from now?
I hope I will still make small collections as well as jewellery, paintings, drawings, sculptures and a lot of collaborations with people I admire.