Salone 2008: Interview with Lotte van Laatum

The weathers great, the streets in zona Tortona are filling up, and we are headed to talk with the dutch designer Lotte van Laatum at her exposition site in via Voghera 11. We were met with a big smile and a fantastic personality- Lotte was both excited and tired after a hectic weekend with a lot of preparations and not a lot of sleep. But it’s finally open, and it looks great.

Air vases

We started like every other interview by asking Lotte how she uses the internet and which websites she usually goes to, to find inspiration. She answered with enthusiasm “I use it a lot, normally I check many different dutch sites, especially, and also designws. I use the net to do a lot of research, but that depends on what type of project I’m is doing, of course”.
We followed up with asking her what her favorite project has been; the most interesting, personal or fun project, and she told us it was “The Saving Lamp”, definitely. “I had to make it in China, and had no idea in the beginning how difficult it was going to be. The industry of energy saving lamps is a very closed industry, that only takes place in China, so I was a little bit intimidated in the beginning, but in the end, it was actually the first project that came back on time!”, she said and laughed. Being at Salone for the first time with her own exhibition, she was both excited and humble for the days to come. We asked her if she was looking forward to anything specific this week, “I always loved Salone, it has these great vibe to it, and it is very exciting to see what will come out of it for me, since this is my first independent show. Salone is very important in the world, and I think it will keep on beeing important in the future, so I am very fortunate to be part of it”. Besides her own show, she was looking forward to many others designers shows- especially what Jaime Hayon is doing this year.

Bloei! sofa

Since Lotte is one of many dutch designers this year, we had to asked her what her feelings around this “trend” was, if she think it’s a positive or a negative thing, and she agreed on that it has become a little bit “label’ish” lately, but she hopes and believes that dutch designers don’t use it as a label. “It should benefit us, since it sets a higher level that challenges other designers, too, and that is always a good thing for the industry”. “Look at this street- there is almost only dutch designers here!”, she said and when we thought for a second, we realized that we only have done dutch interviewes by now, and haven’t even done it intentionally!
“Do you have any advice for aspiring designers?”, we asked her and she answered quickly that you really have to have a hardworking/keep on going-mentality, to never give up. “An exhibition like this takes a long time to prepare, and a lot of work”, she says and looks around her seeming pretty happy with how it all turned out. She has a shared venue with another design company, and they have mixed all their stuff together more or less. The contrast of Lotte’s soft and cleanness of her wood, glass and ceramics, and the metals and darkness of some of the stuff from the others, makes the whole thing work together.

Lotte's ceramics (on the right)

She is trying to work up a sustainable label, and the 6 products we see here are part of it. So asking her what her relationship to sustainability and eco design was, she answered pretty quick that sustainability is the base of all her design, but she dosen’t like the word that much, so she is trying to re-interpretate that word all the time. All the products will have a different relationship to sustainability, either it is the recyclable material, or has a link to social or cultural sustainability. We asked her if she thinks this is a responsibility that every designer should think about or take, “ it depends, and since it really fits my type of work , I chose to take it. People should take it into account in life in general, but I don’t think that every designer should have to design by it”.
Asking her what her plans were for her future she didn’t have a clear answer “I’m really waiting to see what happens this week, and the plan is to develop this collection, and I would really love to go to Tokyo and for the design week in Amsterdam in September. But nothings fixed yet, so we’ll see.”
Now people started to enter the venue, so we knew it was time to leave Lotte so she could start her work. That’s why she is here, and we really hope she will have a successful Salone- and with the compination of great personality and lovely design, we think that is a given!

(Lotte was interviewed by Julia and Natalie, Tuesday, april 15.)
All photos and text by Natalie

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