Making The Workshop
Interview with the makers of The Workshop
25 Dutch creatives opened the doors of their ateliers, offices and workspaces. The book is the result of a close collaboration between writer Renée Leeuw, photographer Iris Duvekot, and MENDO’s Joost Albronda. In this introduction, Renée, Iris and Joost they tell more about how they brought together their various disciplines of photography, writing and design.
How did The Workshop come to be?
Renée: For the online interiors magazine, Roomed, I wrote many “have a glimpse inside” articles—features in which we bring the reader to a place they wouldn’t normally see, for example, someone’s home. It struck me while making these features that a personality is strongly visible in an interior. I began to wonder how that would be with creatives and their workplaces. The longer I thought about it, the more fascinating it became. It seemed to me a beautiful concept for a book.
Joost: When Renée came to MENDO with the idea, we were immediately enthusiastic. We looked for a photographer who could make this idea visible. We chose Iris, and couldn’t have made a better choice. Together we made a list of potential candidates and we got started.
Why did you choose these particular creatives?
Renée: We wanted to show the workplaces of a broad spectrum of Dutch creatives. It had to be as diverse a mix as possible, in terms of profession and gender, as well as background and degree of fame.
Joost: The book includes people we know and find extraordinary as well as people that we knew barely or not at all, people we were simply curious about. It is not intended to be the list of Dutch creatives, but a list of Dutch creatives including, incidentally, Jason Denham, an Englishman, but one who has lived so long in the Netherlands we consider him a Dutch creative.
How did the visits go?
Iris: Most people felt pretty at ease. The creatives let us see everything, which was of course important for this book. I never got the idea that people stored things out of sight or cleaned up. They really let us see them as they are. I found that really beautiful.
Renée: By opening their doors to us, the participants exposed parts of themselves. These are spaces where ideas arise and take form, and where discoveries and experiments take place until something new comes into being that did not exist before.
Iris: I find people most attractive when they are themselves. Some people said that I could move around everything if it would make the photo better. But I didn’t want this. I have portrayed everything and everyone as natural as possible.
Which visits have stayed with you?
Iris: We’ve seen many remarkable places and had many memorable encounters. The meeting with Ans Markus was moving, for instance. Her work and her private life are inseparable: it is hard to say what is her work, her art, and her private life. When Renée and I were back outside, I thought I would cry, this was so intense. So beautiful.
Renée: I also remember vividly the visit to Laser 3.14. Making a portrait of someone who wishes to remain anonymous is a challenge. Especially because for this book we really wanted to depict the person in his or her work environment, so as to know more about that person.
What makes The Workshop unique?
Iris: I think the book has an authenticity. It feels genuine and honest—it’s okay to have some rough edges. It’s precisely the imperfections that make it real.
Joost: What struck me as we progressed is, as Iris says, the authenticity of the project. These people are genuine. Their work environments are intensely personal. They haven’t copied their style from a magazine—they’ve developed their own taste. And singular taste is, even if sometimes unusual, far more interesting than a copied style.
Renée: I’m proud that my idea grew into something beautiful. I think that’s only possible because the people who made it happen really love their work. And the people the book depicts also do their work with love for what they do. This is reflected in the book.
The Workshop is published in April and is available for pre-order now.
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