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Graphic designer Stephanie Specht lives in Antwerp, in an apartment on the 6th floor. And from there she sees the world. She sees things that you and I don’t see at first sight. Letters on buildings for example. She has a talent to make everything better and stronger. Not only her career, but also herself.  This woman travelled, saw and felt amazing things and she started all over again. Since then her life fits in a suitcase. Her feeling of being home depends on the people surrounding her. To all graphic lovers, here’s to you: a conversation about feeling home, spirituality, beauty and people.

Gut feeling

Call it intuition. The feeling of knowing something that you could not know about rationally. It’s not easy in a society where people keep rushing, where only performance counts and matter is prioritized to feelings. Although it’s still a part of every human being, not everyone can feel it. But Stephanie and her sister do. “My parents got divorced when I was 12 years old. On my mother’s side of the family everyone was interested in spirituality and intuition. I grew up with it and I notice that intuition is something that is getting a place in our society only since a few years. But to us, following our gut had always been normal.”

Kunstmuseum, Basel, iArt, Leucht Fassade

As an independent at her own design bureau, Stephanie mainly works with smaller businesses and individuals. This inner compass shows the directions to go. Like it did when she started to work as an independent. Stephanie didn’t grow up in a family full of entrepreneurs. Working as an independent had never been something she actually longed for. But it did become her path. The freedom that comes with it, is worth a lot to her and she wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

My work is my life and my life is my work. Work and life are one. My work is my passion.

Non-graphic-design

Back in the days, she would have answered ‘architect’ when someone asked her “what would you like to become when you’re older?” “But I’ve never been good at maths. I finally ended up doing graphic design but I actually got my inspiration from non-graphic-design sources like for example arts and architecture”. The sightseeing of buildings, lectures and books about architecture always have been unfailing sources of inspiration for her work when it comes to spaces, shapes and surfaces. Ever since she was young, Stephanie had an incredible fascination for letters and, yes, letters on buildings. Especially buildings dating from the ‘40’s. “Earlier, architects used to put their names – or signature – on buildings. Often at eye height but apparently, people hardly notice it. But I do. And I love it!”

New York

Unrest and love. The two ingredients that drove Stephanie abroad a few years ago. New York eventually became her new home where she quickly built up a new life, also professionally. Traveling forced her to live with less. "It's healthy to have as little as possible." The essence of her life fits in a suitcase: laptop, some clothing, music - especially music - and a few books. She doesn’t need much to adapt. Wherever she is.

I couldn’t constantly just take everything with me. Due to moving several times, I needed the freedom to own nothing.

New York. The city where anything goes. The city that gives and takes. Same with Stephanie. A relationship breakup brought her back home. Back to Belgium. She had to leave everything there and had to rebuild everything here. Until then, Stephanie had always been busy with other people and their work. Trying to fit in. After that breakup she had to lean on herself. Only herself: “As a person, you’re in your purest form at the very moment when you have nothing left and when you can’t go any deeper. When everything has slipped away, only the “real you”, your true soul of being a human remains. When there’s nothing you can hide any longer. Believe me, that’s the moment when you reach the essence.”  A big clean up, so to speak.

This attitude still influences her life philosophy nowadays. The result? Applying this philosophy more than ever before. Yes, the earlier restless feeling is gone. She doesn’t feel the urge to go to other places anymore. “I probably won’t be staying here forever, but for the first time in a very long time, I can say that I like to live and work here, at this place. I’m feeling good. Not just because of the amazing atmosphere of the city but because of the people surrounding me.”

I like clean and ‘free’ spaces. Too much clutter limits my creativity. A chair, some greenery and a lantern. There’s actually nothing more I need.

The picture is perfect

Stephanie’s visual expression has strongly evolved throughout the years. In the beginning of her carreer, there was a strong urge to survive as an independent to refuse as few tasks and jobs assignments as possible. That same urge to survive was replaced by assignments in which she could express herself more. Her current imagery mainly reflects a typographic style. Not by accident are “corporate identity and book design” her favourite areas of interest in which she has specialized throughout the years.

Back in the days my drawings weren’t full, but there was simply too much on it. Illustrative work – free work – is my way to express my ideas and it’s mostly the result of pre-designs of assignments for a customer.

Basic shapes determine the essential style of Stephanie. Currently she uses a symmetric or asymmetric construction. A seemingly stable construction on paper that would instantly collapse if it was 3D.

Optical balance print - limited edition for LECHAPERON

I do not consider my free work as art. I prefer to see it as research. Many designers make illustrations that stand on itself. According to me, this merely agrees with the definition of art”. Stephanie mainly observes art with an aesthetic eye. The message isn’t the priority. The same is valid for her own illustrations. They are what they are. “Me, myself, I can see something in it, but it is mainly the aesthetic aspect that has to be good. The message is of less importance.” The image just has to be right. Only then the image is finished.

My current work is a lot more simplistic and minimalistic than back in the days. I’ve started to put more and more attention into the essence and purification of the image.

Her motivation? “To make things stronger. Better. Better in a sense of ‘what’s the essence’? Also on this level, I applied a big clean-up.”

Daku typographic-sundial-01

Half heart

It wasn’t love. It was the city that forced Stephanie to live with a half heart since she came back to Belgium. “’Half Heart’ describes a feeling of belonging everywhere and nowhere at the same time. The feeling that you belong to more than one place and how you try to handle this feeling.” This ‘half heart’ has inspired Stephanie to search for people who share this feeling. Once she has collected enough stories, she will publish them in a book “Half Heart”. (Do you recognize yourself in this feeling of having a “half heart”? Share your story here)

Lonely? No way. I do miss my neighbours of my time in Studio Specht – we became real friends – but whenever I walk outside here, I’m all surrounded by people again. So actually I’m never alone you know.

Goodbye

I’ve seen it already 3 times since my visit to the 6th floor. Letters on buildings. In the meantime I continue thinking about what I would put in my suitcase. What I do know is which text I will put on the its outside: ‘detach from the outcome’.

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The maker Stephanie Specht / Graphic designer

Due to moving several times, I needed the freedom to own nothing.

  • Optical balance print

    The style of this exclusive optical balance print is determined by the basic shapes and colours. It reflects the designers aesthetic eye for beauty and it refers to her life philosophy of ‘less is more’ and finding balance in life. Did you notice the optical illusion of this seemingly stable construction? This composition works on paper but would instantly collapse if it were 3D.

    Details :

    • Limited edition series of 10 prints
    • Measurements : A3 format (29,7 cm x 42,0 cm)
    • Material : Canson® infinity edition etching RAG 310 paper (museum paper 100% cotton, high paper shade stability and a resistance to aging, Digigraphie label)
    • Colour : red, green, dark blue, white en grey (soft colours)
    Maker: Stephanie Specht

     100,00

    10 in stock

    Buy this item
    Optical balance printOPtical Balance printOPtical Balance printOPtical Balance print

    Product Description

    The final composition and colours of this image are the result of Stephanie’s aesthetic eye. She looks at her work the way she looks at art. She observes and keeps on going until the image feels right. The message is of less importance. Her visual expression has strongly evolved throughout the years : more simplistic and minimalistic. For this print she used her typical style of basic shapes and colours, creating optical illusion of balance.

    The image was digitally printed on Canson® Infinity Edition Etching Rag paper, which is a 100% cotton Fine Art paper with a smooth texture, reminiscent of the original genuine etching and printmaking papers.This museum-grade paper offers a high paper shade stability and a resistance to aging by using natural minerals.


    Due to moving several times, I needed the freedom to own nothing.

    Stephanie Specht / Graphic designer
    The product Optical balance print
    by Stephanie Specht  100,00

There is something in the air when visiting the shop / atelier of jewelry designer Lien Herreijger in Deurne. Literally. The smell that meets you, reveals that this lady loves experimenting during the creation process.  'Color' is her signature and by combining composite (resin) with color pigments, Lien creates her own disctinctive world. Her mission? Creating original and colorful designs that are portable and affordable at the same time, designed to carry with you for a long time. Curious about Lien’s approach, I took a look behind the scenes…

Color is key

Since the age of 6, Lien was always active in a creative setting. Every Wednesday and Saturday were filled with art school, where a broad range of activities were possible. Gradually, Lien developed a strong interest in graphics that also included etching and lino, from which her first study as textile designer emerged. "I remember an assignment in the 5th grade with lino: I made a collage of nine images in different colors. To achieve this result, I made up to 100 prints in order to determine the final color combination." An example from the past that turned out to be an omen for her current collections and working method. Color and experimenting with materials is what Lien does and are the basis of her beautiful label.

atelier-2

From textile to jewellery design

After studying textile design, Lien started an additional Bachelor of jewelry design in Antwerp. And this time on her own, without any financial support from her parents. "The combination of hard work during the summer to pay for my studies and moving in with my boyfriend all while studying sounds harder than it was. Actually, it wasn’t that bad at all."

In 2014, Lien decided to fully focus on the further development of her own label, which initially consisted of textiles and jewelry, and now only jewelry. "Probably because I felt I was more talented in jewelry design than in textiles. And with jewelry I also felt that I could really push my signature on my designs and create an added value through handicrafts. Much more than I could do with textiles."

Atelier Lien Hereijgers

The existence of her own label wasn’t built in a day. It grew rather organically. "I never saw myself as an independent. It was neither encouraged from home. I was actually planning to go to work in a textile setting, as an employee. But during my search for a job, I never stopped creating and before I knew it, I had a jewel collection that I started to sell at small markets."

When working with my hands, I discover a lot of new things and basically, I realize I can do anything. There are no restrictions, while industrial designs sometimes have them.

Experiment means freedom

During her training in jewelry design, Lien was acquainted with many materials and new techniques. A new world was out there, and Lien discovered the possibilities of composite, and more specifically, resin. "You start from something liquid and you can do anything with it. Also colors allow me to create what I want to and to me, this means absolute freedom. In the beginning, these endless possibilities can feel limiting because you don’t know the materials well. But once you possess the expertise and knowledge, you can fully experiment with composite and discover new things."

atelier-3 Lien Hereijgers

Resin upgraded

When working with resin, Lien finds it challenging to upgrade this material. "Resin is often only associated with plastic creations". By applying the right techniques, materials and color pigments, she creates a result that is much richer than the base from which it is derived.

A very long and intensive experimental phase is often undertaken prior to each design. And yet Lien has consciously chosen this path. Sometimes it’s a combination of colors, sometimes it’s the material that leads to new ideas. And sometimes, the design determines the chosen color and the material. Her sketchbook is always nearby. It is filled with spiraling designs. Initially large and outstanding, later on more downsized in the creation process. To make it more portable. It happens very often that some sketches form a whole only after a few months, which then eventually are developed into a full-fledged collection.

atelier-5 Lien Hereijgers

Glimpse of the past

While chitchatting, Lien's dyslexia pops up and the way her parents and some teachers have been crucial in the formation of her personality. Her parents always encouraged her to be independent. This was nurtured by an open attitude, a "hard work will be rewarded" mentality and a focus on talent. Needless to say, keep trying if something doesn’t work, doesn’t make sense. "It's a wealth to know yourself well and to follow your own path. Even if this means leaving your comfort zone. Over the years, this is getting easier because I know when and how to trust on myself. I easily feel when I'm unhappy with something.” This reflection has grown out of some meetings with people who looked beyond the form. And it has given Lien the confidence to not be stopped by restrictions and to surround herself with people who are helping her to evolve.

In 2014, I started a coaching program in developing myself as an independent and the setup of my label. If I would have had this knowledge a couple years ago, I probably would have done some things differently, more focused, and at all levels. Because there is so much going on.

Mingle

Looking into the future

Color remains, but making other predictions would only limit herself. The material may evolve, but experimenting and discovering new things will always remain part of her creation process. "As long as I can continue to discover new things, I like doing what I do".

It's nice to see that more and more people dare to choose statement jewellery.

atelier-4-lien-hereijgers

Focus

"Being your own boss is the best thing about this job." Lien gladly takes on the stress that goes with it. "The stress itself is less fun, but somehow I seek it," she laughs. "There is a lot to do, but if you always keep the bigger picture in mind, the goal, you realize that all of that (also when it is less fun) is needed to bring you one step closer to your final goal." Lien learned to outsource things that she couldn’t do or didn’t enjoy doing, so she could focus on her creations.

3 more hours a day

When Lien is not working, she likes spending time with friends and family. All additional free time would be spared for the acquisition of new impressions: city trips, walking in the city, cultural activities via contemporary art, cooking, and good food are always on her to-do list.

Bye

I return home, imbued with Lien's experimental philosophy and lots of color. After today, resin will never be what it was. From now on, I will always be wondering how the texture or the color of a package in the supermarket could inspire Lien Hereijgers to future designs.

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The maker Lien Hereijgers / Jewellery designer

It's nice to see that more and more people dare to choose statement jewellery.

  • MINGLE earrings

    With these MINGLE earrings, you express yourself in a sophisticated way by means of the smooth lines and rich colours. Classy and graceful? Playful and lively? Just Mingle! Create 3 different looks with 1 pair : long, short or an asymmetrical look by combining the long and short bar. Nobody puts you in a corner when you are wearing these beautiful earrings. Shine! And show the world who you are!

    Details :

    • Measurements : overall length (short + long bar) 6.5 cm – short bar 2.7cm (diameter : 3mm)
    • Material : composite + plated earrings (925 sterling silver, 18 carat gold), handmade in Belgium
    • Colour: short bar : black & dark blue – long bar : black, yellow and  green with transparent surfaces
    • Extra : second clasp so the earrings can also be worn only with the short bar (see picture)
    • Also available in silver color (only on request : delivery time 3 to 5 weeks)
    Maker: Lien Hereijgers

     159,00

    mingleMinglemingleMingle

    Product Description

    The name MINGLE of these MINGLE earrings refers to the used composite material and the multiple ways of wearing these stunning earrings. More and more people dare to choose a statement jewel as it expresses who you are and what you stand for. The MINGLE earrings are the result of the endless possibilities of composite (resin), combined with colour pigments. By applying the right techniques, materials and color pigments,  the final result looks much more richly than the base from which it is derived. A very long and intensive experimental phase is often prior to each design.

    The label will always color as a signature. The material may evolve, but experimenting and discovering new things will always remain part of the creation process.

     


    It's nice to see that more and more people dare to choose statement jewellery.

    Lien Hereijgers / Jewellery designer
    The product MINGLE earrings
    by Lien Hereijgers  159,00

Brussels. I leave the busy city life behind me when I enter the cozy apartment of Isabel Naesens, founder of the Belgian brand COMME LES LOUPS (literally translated as ‘like the wolves’). From the first moment we met, I was surprised and charmed by Isabel’s disarming honesty and spontaneity. Time to have a chat!

As the middle sister in a row of three, she always has been ‘the creative’ one in the family. Although Isabel is an architect, she decided to switch position a couple of years ago. Since then she colors the world a bit more by creating the most beautiful bow ties ever. It all began in 2013 with a self made blue bow tie she created for her boyfriend Sam to match her cobalt blue dress for her sister’s wedding. Many bow ties followed afterwards.

‘Entre chien et loups’

This French expression seemed to define the right setting to develop the identity and the recognizable style of the ‘Comme les loups’ bow ties. It was the original name of the current brand. The expression ‘Entre chien et loup’ (literally translated ‘between dog and wolf’) refers to a specific time of the day, just before night falls, when the light is so dim that you can hardly distinguish a dog from a wolf. It resembles the limit between something familiar and comfortable versus the unknown and the dangerous. Eventually, the original name evolved towards the current label as we know it nowadays, but the setting, style and atmosphere are still present through all of the collections.

Bow tie comme les loups

When in doubt, put a bow on it.

The brand is known for its exclusive and handcrafted materials and its strong identity. Poetic, elegant and always with a playful twist. Each bow tie is made with unique fabrics, selected with the utmost care, ranging from suede to shearling. Each bow tie receives a name, characterizing its unique personality. To Isabel, a bow tie is the perfect cherry on the cake. A simple outfit will change completely by adding the right accent. And that’s what a bow tie does. It adds attitude, and it reinforces personality of the ones wearing it. She also likes the idea of men paying (more) attention to how to dress and giving them a way to add instant ‘punch’ to their outfit. For any occasion and for all types of men.

Comme les loups werkbank

There isn’t such a thing as “a girlfriend pants”

If I ask Isabel if she ever thought about creating a women’s collection, the answer is yes. Although she is aware that some women would wear manly bow ties, the other way around is more difficult. “I think that men would rarely wear unisex products. Women have a lot of possibilities when it comes to prettying themselves up. There are less options for men. That’s why we decided to make a clear distinction between men and women and to focus on men accessories in the beginning.” This will change now. Although ‘Comme les loups’ was a ‘men only’ thing, they also launched a women collection. The model and selected fabrics make the distinction between bow ties for men and women.

Find (create) a job you really like.

At first, Isabel wanted to study fashion, but her parent’s concern, her interest in science, math and drawings eventually resulted in a Master degree in Architecture. Isabel strongly believes that creativity is in everyone. And that creativity has many faces. 1 Event and the appreciation of her friends were enough to trigger her love for beautiful fabrics and to re-discover that other side of her creative personality. She refined her sewing skills and decided to build a business around bow ties. All she needed was a push from Sam, her partner in crime. In 2014, Isabel put her job as an architect aside and she decided to put all of her time and effort in ‘Comme les loups’.

comme les loups naaidoos

We’re all stories in the end. Make it a good one.

The golden formula of ‘Comme les loups’? Maybe it’s just “in” her. Isabel is a dreamer that uses a practical, down to earth approach, she follows her intuition but she sometimes needs a push, she talks determinately but asks for reflection. The label’s current success is the result of organic growth, taking risks when needed and a lot of gut feeling. Recognition and appreciation are also very motivating. Isabel couldn’t continue what she’s doing without appreciation.

Knowing that people appreciate my work and products, is what keeps me going. And it’s my responsibility to make it work.

Bow tie comme les loups

3 more hours a day

When I ask Isabel what she would do if she could have 3 extra hours to fill the day, creativity’ pops-up again. “I think many people find it difficult to really know what they want. They easily slip into the ‘I have to’ regime and therefore forget about their creative side. Or they try to translate it into a hobby instead of integrating it more actively into daily life.” And then all of the sudden, she says: “I know what I would do if I would have 3 more hours a day : I would start drawing again. I loved drawing when I was younger. Or riding my bike in the city searching for new places to be discovered”.

Bye

Like wolves do, ‘Comme les loups’ stands its ground in a men’s world. Normally when wolves appear, it is time to trust our gut feeling to help us find a new path so that we can take our lives into our own hands. When ‘Comme les loups’ appears in your wardrobe, it means that you have found your ideal accessory in a way you want it to be. Stylish. Expressive. Elegant. And with a twist.

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The maker Comme les loups / Designer bowties

Knowing that people appreciate my work and products, is what keeps me going.

  • Pine & Mint bowtie

    Gentlemen, express who you are with this Pine & Mint bowtie. Eliminate ‘boring’ from your vocabulary, because success is guaranteed. The carefully selected colours and fabrics make this bowtie ideal for celebration dinners, an evening out, work or simply strolling around in town. Whoever you are or whatever you do, this bow rises you ‘attitude’ level to unseen heights! No fuss with tying a bowtie because that’s already done for you. This ready-tied bowtie is easily adjustable by the strap around the neck.

    Details:

    • Measurements : 12 x 4 cm
    • Material : cotton & wool
    • Color : petrolgreen (dark) and mintgreen (light)
    Maker: Comme les loups

     85,00

    8 in stock

    Buy this item
    Pine & Mint bowtieMint & pine bowtiePine & Mint bowtie

    Product Description

    Pine & Mint is part of a limited series of 10. Comme les Loups is known for its exclusive and handcrafted materials and its strong identity. Poetic, elegant and always with a playful twist. Each bow tie receives a name, characterizing its unique personality. This ‘ready tied’ bowtie is the right accent to your outfit. It adds attitude and reinforces your personality. Due to its carefully selected colors and fabrics, this ‘ready tied’ bow tie is perfect for any occasion. The strap around the neck is adjustable and therefore ready to be worn.


    Knowing that people appreciate my work and products, is what keeps me going.

    Comme les loups / Designer bowties
    Other works by

    Comme les loups

    The product Pine & Mint bowtie
    by Comme les loups  85,00

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