Renee Mennen and Stefanie van Keijsteren :: Studio rENs
When you look out your window you see
A nice, deep garden with lots of green and no neighbours peeking in.
What do you like to do most when you are at home?
I love to cook and most of all I love making soup: zucchini soup or pumpkin soup with homemade bread. I am a real ‘soup lover’, already from when I was a kid. I also like to mess about the house, move furniture around and tidy up my clothing cupboard. I am not really that neat, but I can really enjoy having all my clothes sorted according to colour. Even though I know that it will be messy again within two days…
Do you take your work home with you?
No. As I know that when I take work home, it stays at the forefront of my mind, which causes me to sleep badly, so I try to minimize this as much as possible. Lex, my boyfriend, studies architecture and often works at home until very late. It sometimes happens that I end up helping him with his work, but that is different as it is not my own work.
Do you use your designs in your own house?
Yes, several. I purposely do not purchase designs from other designers. I enjoy it much more to collect items. If you buy something for a lot of money it is more difficult to part with it, which I find a shame. I do own work from my parents though. My parents are artists and real collectors. Their house is full with beautiful things that they have collected over the years.
We regularly get a phone call from my dad that he has found something new and interesting again. If we really wanted to, our studio and my whole house would be full too.
What would you take with from your house if you were only allowed to take one thing?
I’m not really that attached to things. I would be able to settle in anywhere and make it my own.
Was there ever a moment while growing up where you thought: yes, I’m going to be a designer?
My parents have always said: you have to do work that you enjoy. That is the most important thing. But they of course do like it very much that I am a designer now. When I was younger, I didn’t really like it that things were different at our house; my parents are artists and live in an old school building. On top of it, I went to a very artsy school. As a kid, you want to be normal (and like all the other kids). Stupid actually, when you think about it (laughs).
My dad once built a wall in my bedroom because I thought the room was too big. But now I’m very proud of the way I grew up. I’ve always enjoyed a lot of freedom growing up.
We have been working together since 2008 and before that we studied together at the School of Fine Arts and Design (AKV St. Joost) in Breda, the Netherlands. First comes are friendship, in which our stubbornness, impulsiveness and our ‘drive’ come together. As a duo, we are constantly looking for new challenges. This keeps our collaboration sharp and above all, a lot of fun! In our working approach as designers, we allow a lot of space for our spontaneity. We are inspired daily by sizes, shapes and proportions. Can a story, a design that has almost no function still have the appearance of a logical design, an industrial product? What would happen if you create a cupboard that doesn’t fit in any building? Does it then loose it function as a cupboard, because it can’t be used? Or does it receive a different sort of appreciation as a piece of furniture, because the cupboard is demanding it through its sheer size?
What would you like to change in your home?
I would very much like a different kitchen. Because I love to cook. Preferably as basic as possible; no designer kitchen.
Where do you want to live 10 years from now? What does your dream house look like?
Hopefully, I’ll be living in an old factory, garage or maybe an old school building, somewhere in the city. I love the craziness and hectic feel of a city. Which city isn’t that important. For now, I like Eindhoven, but maybe I’ll be living in Berlin or Amsterdam in 10 years.
Who is your example/hero/favourite designer?
I think Rachel Whiteread is a very good artist. I find the scale in which she works very interesting. But I also like the tension between applied arts and free arts. Hussein Chalayan (fashion designer) also creates inspiring and authentic work.
It is difficult to stay authentic in these times. Both of these artists have managed to do this, and I admire that.
Name a negative trait of yours that is causing you the most problems
Stefanie thinks that I am chaotic and do not take good care of my personal belongings, ha, ha, which I guess is true to some extent. It is probably because I do not get attached to things that quickly, which makes it easier for me forget or loose something! And maybe I should have a bit more patience, but that applies to both of us.
What inspires you? Do you perhaps have a favourite blog or website that you like to visit?
I get inspired by all kinds of things: things that I can see and that happen around me. We both do not really get a lot of inspiration of the internet. We much prefer browsing through books or scoping out a funny market or a second-hand shop. The best inspiration cannot be found on designer blogs or in magazines, but more in the things around us, in everyday life.
..all images by Vorstin