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it's Sandra from VanSan

Thursday, 9 July 2009 by Irene Hoofs

Please meet this super nice women from the Netherlands, Sandra. She is a true artist, mother of two and she has a fantastic home, which I'm so glad fully can show you today. Sandra is an interior designer but alos a very creative women who makes the most beautiful and unique bags. Her collection 2009 is just great and all bags are made from almost 100% recycled materials. Sandra not only takes our environnment into strong consideration when making the bags, she also gives a portion of her profits to good purpose :: YASAP Foundation, a project for the incorporation of women and children in West Timor! On her website you can find more information, but first enjoy the beautiful images made by her dear Simone from Siepsfabriek.
1.) What kind of house do you live, in what kind of area and with whom? And how long have you been living here … ?
Nine years ago Albert, my husband and I decided to leave our apartment in the city and we bought this old farmers house (1922) in Winsum. A quiet picturesque village in the most northern rural area of the Netherlands. Our house is near a canal where my daughters (Eva 13  and Silke 10 ) like to swim in summer. We had to do a lot of renovating, there wasn’t even central heating, but it has so much character. We have an old red-haired cat called Peer (meaning: good old chap) and 2 guinea pigs. And Pien, an adorable rabbit lives with us on a temporarily basis. All housemates are free to go where they like: they all were successfully potty-trained.
2.) Where is your workroom located in your home, do you have preset hours for working or do you just start when you have time and feel like it? Where do you buy your fabrics?
My studio is upstairs in our house. Actually it is the old renovated attic, to be reached by small steep stairs. I am in my workroom almost every day when the girls are at school. The work I do is a rather labour-intensive job and all the sewing, designing, publicity, the web shop and product photography is done by myself. As result of environmental consciousness I like to recycle curtains, clothes and bed linen etc. which I nose out in charity shops, flea markets and boot fairs. Bags that originate from donated material are named after the previous owner. So there is a ‘Greta’s curtain’ and a ‘Femke’s skirt’. Working alone at home is nice but also has its disadvantages. Private life and work become easily and distractively entangled. And I’m now starting to miss colleagues. That is the reason why I am on the doorstep of sharing workroom with other artists amongst whom is Simone. She is a photographer and she also made these open house pictures. We have plans to do designing projects together, to develop handmade products and start a (web) shop! It ‘s all premature but very exciting! I’ll keep you posted on this matter.
3. ) What kind of feel are you hoping people get when visiting your fantastic home?
I hope that visitors quickly feel at home and that our place is dashing. I love the weekends when friends hop in and stay overnight or for dinner. I’m used to spent time ‘cozifying’ the living room by changing cushion covers, collectibles or even repainting the wall. A girl friend always says: your house is like a small museum, there’s always something to spot and the atmosphere is always warm. Frankly I hope that visitors are in awe of the solutions and renovations we made.
4.) What kind of furniture do you like and where do you find them?
We obtained most of our furniture from family and friends who wanted to get rid of it. I like furniture with a story, although their histories are not always known because they’re also often found in flea markets. My latest finds were 2 euro a piece red cantina chairs, like Robin Day’s  Polyprop chairs from the 1960s. Some things are from IKEA and our dinner table is new and self-designed. I went to a saw-mill to pick out a tree stem for the table-top and friend Jack made the steel under-frame. Designs from the 60’s and 70’s are great! Unfortunately they’re very expensive most of the time, and I can’t seem to choose which one I like most, so I have to be very careful in what to buy.
5.) Can you tell us a bit more about your living room and what you think is very important in ‘a’ and your house?
Our living room is what used to be the Sunday room. It still has a mantelpiece, high windows with coloured glass skylights, a bed box and ornamented frames and lintels over panelled doors. I fell instantly for these details! Because I’m a disorderly person and always busy in my head, I at least try to keep the living tidy and neat. But not in a minimalistic way, that is not my fling. What I find most important in a interior is simply the fact that it has the atmosphere of the persons who live in it, whether it is vintage, modern or classical. But it shouldn’t be too tidy. One’s rubbish is one’s mirror.
6.) Does somebody in your family actually still wear the wooden shoes? Why do you love bright colors like the orange and lime so much in your house?
 Ah yes, the wooden shoes are mine! Those are still frequently worn by (mostly) men in the north of Holland and by me. They are quit comfortably actually and you can easily slip in and kick them off. Very convenient while I’m working in the garden. We have a cottage garden with holly-hocks, geranium, lavender etc. In summer when it can be rather hot in our south oriented garden then we like to sit under the foliage of the beech.  It is not particularly the lime and orange colours that I like most. Colours in general run through my life as a thread, they cement my memories and literally colour my life! When we first moved in we painted everything in whites. But gradually more colour was applied. Did you know that colours have hidden potency? Orange in a kitchen works appetizing. Which seems to work; we all look healthy so to speak, ha ha!
7.) Was the wallpaper in the bedroom already there or did you hang it there? What are the benefits of your home and what would you really like to have changed?
We hang the wallpaper there after renovating the back house. It used to be the workshop of the farmer and of the second resident, a carpenter. Now the back-kitchen, bathroom and the girls’ bedroom is situated here. I’m really happy with our rebuild bathroom, which gives a real spa feeling, due to a new geography and under floor heating! The biggest asset of our house is that it is on its own grounds. Although the attic bedrooms and workroom are very cosy and authentic, I miss a storage facility. And I would really like to have terrace doors for more contact with the garden and watching the birds.

8.) Who is the lucky person that sleeps in the ‘bedstee’ or ‘boxbed’? And what’s the story behind these vintage toys?
Albert and I slept in the bed box during rebuilding the house (the attic). Nowadays it serves as a retreat for reading or taking naps and cushion fights. Those vintage toys are Albert’s and mine. And there are some primary school artworks from our children. It’s all nostalgic display!
9. ) What do these little animals tell you?
These animals represent the past when kids used to play self invented stories and games. I feel like my heart is set on earlier days, not knowing which ones exactly. I love old-fashioned things like handicrafts, fabrics, utensils and maybe even the way of living from the past. Such as the way people stood in relation with nature and how they kept real face to face contact with each other. To me technological development is not always a positive progress. I am really concerned about how children use (im)personal computers, play solitary games on Nintendo’s and watch television for I don’t know how many hours a day and having to deal with all physical and emotional problems that come with (growing boredom, apathy, obese etc.). I try to keep my children away as much as possible from television and computers and encourage them to invent and create games and activities themselves.
10.) Your collection bags is fantastic, the combination of fabrics, trims and colors is really nice, how does an idea for a new bag starts and where do you sell them?
 Thank you! Starting-point for a new bag is either the fabric print itself or a detail from a trouser pocket for instance. These lines and shapes determine the pattern and atmosphere of a new bag. My newest collection consists of mostly plain fabrics on which I made a screen-print or stamp a print myself. Every bag has precise seam work and detailing and stands on its own as each is an original. The production experience is always fascinatingly different for me, like real deliveries, my babies. That sometimes makes it hard to sell them in my web shop and on nice art and crafty markets). I would love to have my products retailed in shops, but unfortunately that has not occurred yet. 

11.) whats up with little Heidi?
Do you know the story of Heidi who lives with her grandfather amongst her goats in the mountains? It is a romantic desire: I dream of being a shepherd and living in the fields and moors.
12.) Who sleeps here and made the little pompom?
This is the bedroom of Silke and Eva. They have been sleeping in the same room since they were babies. It won’t be long until they want a room for themselves. The pompom was by me. It’s such a nice old technique! I like to combine it with something funny like these plastic animals. This pompom is now dangling of my sister’s car window mirror. My sister is called Babe (by her boyfriend!) after the adorable piglet in the movie with the same name.
13. ) What do you look for when searching for new inspiration and what tools do you use for this?
I get my inspiration from my kids and their little toddler artworks and from Nature! I adore flowers, birds/animals and trees and love to photograph and draw them. I always have a little sketchbook with me for new ideas. You probably know the thumbnail sketches made while your on the phone. Those turn out to become prints in my work. For new inspiration and ideas I like to visit galleries and museums or I go walking in the countryside.
14.) Why did you decide to hang these little things on the wall, what do you like about them and why the beautiful green color on the wall?
 I like to hang things in unusual places and in unusual combinations. Like our ancient black and white family portraits in the toilet! How, where and what I hang is simply a matter of intuition; I look for balance in form and color. In my work as interior designer I also look for balance and opt for practical but esthetical solutions. The people who commission me are often hesitant of applying color. Paint is willing, I say, repainting the wall is much easier than letting your sofa be re-upholstered. The living room wall has the color of dark storm clouds. On the picture it looks green but sometimes it looks grey or even blue. That kind of colors, which make you ask yourself what you should call them, are the ones which interest me most and never bore me.
15.) How important is food and everything that comes with it for you and your family?
My family always has dinner together. I really love to cook Indonesian food only once in a while and use fresh ingredients like my favorite lime leaves and ginger. But frankly my husband is the cook. We all know that eating is at our basis of daily necessities. But in my opinion food differs from nutrition nowadays with food being overproduced and (genetic) manipulated and with sugar and additives added. Who can recall the taste of non-manipulated Brussels sprouts? Happily my mother has a kitchen-garden and she brings me boxes full with fine vegetables which were not treated with pesticides. I prefer to eat seasonal ingredients and buy regional produce from my own area. I believe that is healthier for your body and for the environment! 

Just a final question … who would you like to invite for your next dinner, can be anybody… and what would you make for him or her?
Oh that is hard! I would like to invite my deceased father and my grandparents and Gandhi, and Joni Mitchell, and …Well, we’ll have Indonesian for sure.

..Van San..
..Van San collection..
..Studio VanSan blog..
..Van San in english..

..images by Simone from Siepsfabriek..

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