Artist Roos van de Velde 's openness and spontaneous honesty are contagious. She doesn’t allow people to label her and so far only does what she does best: staying close to herself and creating beauty in an intuitive way. She has a very distinct lifestyle and view on life, which others would call ‘different’. However, one thing is certain: Roos doesn’t leave you untouched. She receives you with open arms, guides you through her wonderful world and fully conquers you with her laughter and candor. Enter her universe where nature, light and love are central.
A reading tip: do not read the portrait in one time (unless you like it that much ;-)), because there is a lot of reading. But if you have the time or find the time to do it, please do. We all can learn something from this lady.
Nomen est omen
The Romans knew it all along. The name tells you something about somebody’s fate. In case of Roos van de Velde they couldn’t be more true. She was raised amidst the sloping fields of Payottenland in a family of hardworking entrepreneurs with two sisters and a brother, with whom Roos shared nothing in common. She found refuge in the beauty of nature and created a strong bond with the trees.
My parents owned a gas station, a bar, a logistics company, a feed and fertilizer business, a farm with fields, an orchard, a vegetable garden... They were always busy. We were mobilized as well and always had to be ready for customers. It was a world far away from mine. At that time I already knew I would be taking care of myself, independent from others. My grandmother has always been my guardian angel, under her loving wings, I always felt safe.
At early age Roos created her own green and unique world. It was then that she decided to only do things for herself. “Because every day I reluctantly had to go to school, I realized very soon that I could never handle a job in employment.”
Roos describes herself as shy, already when she was a child, but this feature did not stop her from choosing an education in arts and later an unfinished education in Ceramics at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. This choice for ceramics was strongly determined by a strong attraction towards the light space with a lot of glass and on the other hand by the necessity to craft things she could use herself.
"Where does an engine gets its gas from? I just wanted to create my own world. That’s what started it all. Creating my own world was a way to survive in the for me very strange environment I had ended up in. When I just started, I had nothing and thus needed a lot, like for example dinnerware to eat from. However, I just kept on creating dinnerware, because in every dish or part of nature I saw a new series of dinnerware,” she says. “At that time, it was never my goal to show it to the world...”
“In hindsight it was a good thing that I didn’t finish my education, because it allowed me to develop myself in total freedom. I knowingly refused to visit the ceramics exhibitions to avoid outside influences,” says Roos. An official diploma turned out to be unnecessary for this planner to discover her world. Soon, Roos was recognized for her unique creations in the Netherlands and abroad.
Today her dinnerware is in production and also used in handmade limited editions by the culinary world: El celler de can Roca in Gerona; Albert Adria (El Bulli) in Spain; Jean-Georges New York, Japan, Dubai; Jonnie Boer in the Netherlands; Maison Bras in France; Arabelle Meirlaen and San Hoong Degeimbre L’Air du Temps in Belgium.
Fairytales aren’t real
Entering Roos’ house is like entering a fairytale world. Organic forms everywhere, nature is present inside as well as outside and everything flows effortlessly into each other. And yet Roos has nothing in common with fairytales. “Oh no! I have nothing in common with fairytales. I don’t like fake. Everything I make needs to ‘stir’, needs to have a soul, touch, and above all needs to be real. And fairytales aren’t.”
Rituals. Our daily life is full of them. Nope, not habits. Repeated actions or gestures following a certain pattern with a meaning or symbolism connected to an event or location. Rituals it is. Roos has them and applies them. With everything she does. “With everything I do and for the intentions with which I do them, I return to nature, especially to the trees, which are grounded. This connection needs to be there to give every creation a soul.”
Light and love in everything you do, is a saying written on the wall next to the kneading table, which reminds Roos to be focused when she is kneading, gazing into infinity.
In addition, Roos mixes ethereal oils in the various materials she uses, and also the incense from Japanese temples that give this ritual its meaning. “All those fires change my emotions while I work, like it attracts spirits who fill the room.”
If you believe in something strong enough, it will come to you.
There is beauty in imperfection. Roos sees it and lives for it. Imperfect impeccability makes her work so recognizable. So strong. So beautiful. Damage isn’t hidden, but amplified. Imperfection speaks. Kintsugi, originated in Japan, is a technique from the 15th century, where fractures or broken pottery are repaired (with gold foil) and where each fracture purposely is accentuated instead of camouflaged. A technique Roos often applies in her work and that is in line with her daily life as well. Only Roos doesn’t use gold foil, but she repairs the fractures and fissures with lac from the Japanese Urushi tree. Broken. Yes, but no less beautiful. On the contrary.
This Japanese influence can’t be ignored in Roos’ work and life. The simplicity, wabi-sabi, nutrition and nature are unflagging sources of inspiration. However, moving to Japan and building a life there is no option. “Nonetheless is there this returning image present: I see myself living in a traditional house in the mountains, surrounded by forests. But then there is reason, which faces reality and the changing times. My vision is a remembrance of a life in a world which is disappearing. I have not yet found this in Japan. I realize as female I could never do my thing there, it’s still a men’s world out there.” Then yet a reason why Roos has ended up among her family. “All what happens, happens for a reason and with time I pick up more and more proof for this.”
Japanese interior design uses the principle ‘less is more’: sober, elegant and a sense of tranquility. When you walk downstairs Roos’ house, this Japanese simplicity seems nowhere to be found.
Who uses his eyes well enough, will soon discover the Japanese influences: green spots of nature present everywhere, the little wooden Japanese boxes and crates full of porcelain, the many Japanese labels on the clay walls, Kozo leaves with Japanese calligraphic intentions next to the water pitcher, the wonderful tea boxes, Japanese cast iron cookware, a cupboard full of dinnerware with authentic Japanese reed sliding doors, kiku bamboo and many culinary utensils. There is even a Japanese water filter.
A nice mix between east, west and south due to an African touch here and there. And upstairs the link with Japan is even more intense: dark wood, clay with straw on the walls, a Tatami matt, a (wonderful) authentic Japanese staircase, suitcases, cupboards and Japanese Shoji screens, which Roos repairs herself with kozo paper and paints. “When Japanese girlfriends visit me, they get the feeling they are visiting their grandma,” says Roos with a smile.
I do it myself
All designs originate from an urge to create something. By now we know that nature plays a central role in this. And simplicity.Roos finds this simplicity in creating things that meet her basic needs. “I have to be able to leave my signature everywhere, whether I design clothes, new dinnerware, a closet, a table or I am kneading sourdough for making bread...”
All utensils with which she surrounds herself daily, are home-made by her. And preferably 100% natural: dinnerware (you never can have enough dinnerware), clothes, tables, food from the garden, herbs, care products... You’ll seldom run into Roos in the city and if it happens, then – again – it’s purely out of necessity...
Kintsugi. Roos is already doing it her whole life: bringing things that seemingly look imperfect or ugly to a new life and beautify them. She proves something is beautiful because it was broken or because it has this tiny bit of imperfection still in it. Accepting and loving the wrinkles and scars of life. A nice thought, isn’t it? Impeccable imperfect!