Inspired by nature and a quest for beauty.
Marie Michielssen is known for her eclectic, artistic and elegant approach to design. Everything she touches has soul and beauty, but I think the word that perhaps best sums her up is nurture. Her passion for encouraging others or evolving an idea, cherishing moments with feeling, humanity, compassion and empathy is at the heart of what she is about.
The common thread in her life is love and beauty. “Love is the antidote to all that is ugly and harsh in this world. I draw a lot of inspiration from beauty around me, also from the beauty and talent I see in people. It brings so much satisfaction to work with talented people, craftsmen and women, to take my designs to the next level.”
Her quest for beauty however does not exclude functionality. She believes that function and beauty go hand in hand and the experience that you have with a product must answer functional requirements as well as being aesthetically pleasing - “To me design is inextricably linked with an experience. And this experience can only be optimised when you get the object’s function right.” Her range of pots and planters on the Makers & Merchants website – Concrete, Seventies and Tab, all carry the Marie Michielssen stamp of beauty, simplicity, craftsmanship and function.
Trained as a graphic designer Marie set up her own small business in 1995, decorating and embellishing simple everyday terracotta plant pots. It became an instant success, but as the business grew, managing the production and sales as well as trying to create became too challenging for her small company and so she presented the collection to Serax. She became their resident designer and along with the Serax team has spent the last 25 years creating a very successful international lifestyle brand.
Her design process usually begins with materials that she can model by hand. ‘Drawing’ in 3 dimensional shapes and forms has become her obsession and sculpting characterful objects from diverse materials is what makes her buzz. The intuition that comes from working this way means that products evolve through gut feeling, rather than a pre imagined design idea. The only exception to this would perhaps be furniture where products must adhere to human proportions for comfort. Playing with elements such as papier-mâché to create new forms and silhouettes are the ways she loves to express an idea, a feeling, a story – in essence a theatrical product designer.
The Marie Michielssen's world of beauty aims to take you on a journey. Often expressed in extremes, she seamlessly threads together a story to create a perfectly balanced product, melding together the tight and controlled to the expressive and eclectic. An example of these extremes is the photography for her most recent catalogue, which is an expression of what she calls her inner world. She wanted to express functional objects such as Concrete in an opposing setting, revealing her love for beauty and spirituality and by using an old, weathered building and creating a mystical atmosphere takes the experience to a more artistic level. A more personal statement.
For the future. The very nature of design can either make something better, create a solution to a problem or create more stuff. She hopes that her products have a timeless beauty to them, that they stand the test of time and are so well made that people want to pass them on like the antiques we collect today. “My mother took me to antique markets as a child. I loved that. I learned to look at the beautiful objects and take in the details”.
As people turn to a more conscious way of living and consuming, her hope is that this will drive the demand for more sustainable design solutions made with a level of craftsmanship and with materials that mean a product will last forever. Objects with meaning, a one of a kind that generation after generation will treasure.