Meet the Designer: Doreen Westphal
Doreen Westphal Design stands for innovative combination of clear design, use of original materials and a production conscious of social and environmental issues. For the KREJCI Collection Westphal for example used unconventional materials like used bicycle inner tubes and airbeds and has created an extended range of contemporary designs. All products are handmade and have a high-quality finish. The objects are rough but attractive.
Doreen Westphal was born in former East Germany where she after leaving school became a tailor by trade. As soon as the wall came down, Westphal wanted to see other parts of the world, which she was not able to visit before, and she moved to the UK where she studied Theatre design at Nottingham Trent University. After finishing her studies she settled down in the Netherlands where she works as autonomous designer since 2001.
Doreen Westphal works mainly as a self producing designer which means she either produces the designs in her own workshop or she finds people or companies to take care of the production.
The KREJCI collection for example is organized as follows: With help of people, mainly from social work shops old inner tubes are collected by the bicycle repair men. The tubes are then brought to the people who make the bags. For small and simple bags production is possible in the Netherlands, also in social workshops. Larger bags or complicated items are made by very skilled crafts people in Bulgaria. All efforts are made to leave the production for the KREJCI Collection within the European Union.
Eindhoven, The Netherlands, 20 March 2012 – Doreen Westphal Studio launches the ‘Measure Collection’, accessories made from leftover leather pieces.
Doreen Westphal about the new collection: “We live in a society where it’s normal to purchase more than what’s necessary. We see living with waste as part of the natural order. The ‘Measure Collection’ is a response to this unnatural overabundance.”
Westphal conducts the entire production process, where every piece of the ‘Measure Collection’ is made from high quality leather off-cuts from a shoe and bag manufacturer in south Bulgaria. The factory is run by experienced and highly skilled craftspeople, who also hold 5% ownership of the company.
The goal of the ‘Measure Collection’ is not just to transform formerly dispensable materials into valuable and useful products, but to encourage consumers to rethink how materials are used.
“I’m proud to have a job which allows me to combine design ideas with material experimentation and socio-political engagement – and be able to enjoy commercial success at the same time,” says Westphal.
The ‘Measure Collection’ icon is the Measure Tote shopping bag, which is marked on the back with a scale starting at 1 and ending at 5. Research has shown that people throw away 20% of the food they buy. Herein lies the consumer challenge: fill the shopping bag and eventually throw away the last 20%, or just fill it up to number 4.
Other items in the collection include the Bansko bag, without metal clasps on its shoulder strap but has a clever knot system instead – to limit the use of finite natural resources.
“For me, everything has what we call in the Dutch language, a ‘front’ and a ‘back’. The ‘front’ – or the exterior façade – is literal and tangible. It is what people see, feel and experience and it’s what they expect a designer to do well. The ‘back’ – or the interior significance – is not immediately apparent but is equally important, because it’s how a product has come into being: its ecological footprint, what it’s made of, how it was produced, the social conditions of the craftspeople involved, and how far it travels to reach the user. I aspire to design the ‘back’ of a product just as beautifully as its ‘front’.
About Doreen Westphal Studio
Doreen Westphal (Koethen, 1970) is challenged by material experimentation, driven by socio-political engagement and has a passion for design and manufacture, taking on the role of designer as well as conductor of a product’s entire production process. Westphal grew up and was trained as a tailor, under the former East German regime. As a result, she is acutely aware of the link between politics, economics and the currently deplorable state of eco-social affairs, and is continually stimulated by specialized crafts. In collaboration with leading international material developers and skilled craftspeople, Westphal creates timeless objects, which are fair, innovative and future-ready. Westphal is currently based in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.