Jannita van den Haak
Jannita Lives with Arwin Caljouw in a working class home from 1956 in the Netherlands.
When you look out your window you see
Tranquility and space; our garden faces south. When you look the other way, you can see new developments where there once used to be a park. The entire neighbourhood has been renovated. Kind of useful as now we have a supermarket and tennis courts at our disposal.
What do you like to do most when you are at home?
I like to spend time lazing in my sun bed with an Italian novel or magazine. I love the sun. I like to read Italian. My dad always listened to Italian music (Eros Ramazzotti) in the car and from I was 6 years old I started noticing that. I started to learn Italian this way, from the back seat of the car while going on holiday. I also enjoy tidying up my clothing cupboard on a Sunday afternoon. That really relaxes me. I don’t have time for that during the week. When I am at home we are also cooking and eating. Arwin is really the cook in the house. I am the hostess when people come over for dinner and I like to dress up the table. Arwin is very refined! Everything has to be perfect. This way, we have nicely divided the tasks 😉
Do you take your work home with you?
We talk about it but being at home means to relax. There are books for inspiration but we do not work at home. I also check my email on my Ipad but I can’t really recommend that to anyone. It is a real automatism and not healthy to be online all the time.
Do you use your designs in your own house?
Arwin has done all the customization in our house. We also have a nice mix of our own designs, antiques and Ikea furniture. I made a dish of glass (a project at the Academy), I knitted copper on a knitting machine and melted glass over that. This resulted in a kind of stillness in the glass. That was the start of working with glass. From this I discovered how diverse it is and what all you can do with it. My jewellery collection originated from that. And of course the bags I designed. First backpacks and now also leather purses. For years, I’ve been putting the travel theme into my designs. We also own a lot of souvenirs. I now have my first Fornasetti (an Italian designer) and I am very happy with that. It is a ceramic object of a winking woman.
We love to travel because of the experience and like to take with nice souvenirs from our travels. Nice ceramics with a story; like the Sicilian head. The story behind that is that an Italian woman fell in love with a slave, a forbidden love. Her dad killed her slave and put the head on the land. She went to sit and cried above it and then the land became very fertile and the family very rich. Ever since then, the ceramic variant of the head is a symbol for fertility and richness.
What would you take with from your house if you were only allowed to take one thing?
My Fornasetti. That was the first piece I bought. I would also take the mannequin head from Malta and the complete contents of my clothing cupboard (laughs). Ah, decisions, decisions…
Was there ever a moment while growing up when you thought: yes, I’m going to be a designer?
I already designed clothing for my Barbie dolls when I was a child and accessories for me and my friends, such as hats and broaches. We even created complete miniature villages of carton and paper. In high school, I made costumes and decors for plays. When someone from the Design Academy came for a visit, I was convinced. Before that I always thought I would become a lawyer 😉 and my mother hoped I was going to become a hairdresser (as she is one also).
What would you like to change in your home?
Quite a lot if money wouldn’t be a problem. We have a large garden, so I would extend the house. And renovate the attic. But I would also find it ok if the next tenant does it.
Where do you want to live 10 years from now? What does your dream house look like?
My ideal house is a one level house in the middle of the city, a roomy loft in Milan or Amsterdam. I also lived in an apartment in Italy for a year. I studied in Rome for a year (theatre design). That was great. I come from a small town and was raised in a very sheltered environment. That year in Rome was really good for me in that I learned to make my own decisions. It was a life-changing experience.
Who is your example/hero/favourite designer?
I have a few. Paul Smith because of his store policy. Each store is different and he has many. I am very proud of the fact that he bought one of my bags. Here in the Netherlands, I really think Marlies Dekkers is an example. She is a real businesswoman with a design imperium, very cleverly done. I am also a fan of Givenchy (they make really beautiful luxury bags), Lanvin and Martin Margiela and of course Marc Jacobs, and Patricia Urquiola from Spain because of her beautiful techniques.
Name a negative trait of yours that is causing you the most problems
I find it very tough to let go! I have at least 10 people working in my team. I can’t be everywhere all the time, which is difficult as it is my company. I also want to initiate too many new things but I really need to be strict to myself. However corny: there is a time to blossom and a time to grow. Sometimes you need to take the time to blossom.
What inspires you? Do you perhaps have a favourite blog or website that you like to visit?
I like professional mailings, such as Textillia and Fashion United. I also visit exhibitions to get inspired by other designers, i.e. Salon del Mobile and the fashion fair in Paris (Pret a Porter). Arwin sends me links of Bright and Coolhunting. But the greatest thing is to be travelling about and discovering new things.