Sometimes you walk into a room and all you can think is – YES! Everything was just right when my friend Ingrid and I arrived at the Amsterdam showroom launch party of Maddnes on a rainy night early February. And no, I did not just make a typo. It really is spelled Maddnes and the typo is just one of the little touches that make this amazing new brand by two of the Netherlands’ best interior stylists – Marcel van Brussel and Daphne Rijkenberg together with top art director Arnold van Ek, the man behind all the visualizations and the graphic design.
Marcel and Daphne go way back. They met each other in Amsterdam when Daphne applied for a job with Marcel, who at the time was working as creative manager for a large window decoration and interior display company. They hit it off right away and spent many years working together designing shop windows, interiors and even collections of Christmas ornaments for the Netherlands’ leading luxury department store. Last year, they made a bold and exciting move when they started their own brand, Maddnes, and designed a stunning collection of furniture and home accessories. Over the years, Marcel and Daphne have turned styling into an art form and so it was a great honor for me to be the first to interview them about their new brand Maddnes.
So, how do you design your own collection?
Actually, Maddnes has two collections out at the moment. First, there’s House of Design – which consists of tables, objects, cushions and scarves. We also have a collection called House of Desire, in which we adapt existing products and offer our vision on consumer society – with a healthy dose of humor and lots of storytelling of course. Altoghether, it sounds like an awful lot, but we’ve been wanting to work for ourselves for so long. So when we finally made the decision to go for it, we suddenly had a lot of time on our hands. We started painting figurines, designing patterns and lot more. We went all out – it was a delicious cacophony of ideas. In the end though, everything had to have the same signature. We edit a lot. Also, we found out that one idea quickly lead to another, so we used our main logo as an inspiration for items based on insects, scarabs, crocodiles and horse legs. If you look at everything we’ve designed for Maddnes, the main themes are botany, anatomy and animals.
What is your fascination with these specific themes?
It’s not a fascination per se. It’s more about the combination of themes we’re looking for. The interiors we design are like that as well. They’re classic but with a twist. We add something small or unexpected – which is the way we’ve been working for years. As a stylist, Marcel has always done a lot of trend forecasting so that also helped to create a certain flow of ideas. We’ve designed some of our objects without a purpose in mind, like the giant pointing finger that didn’t get its specific function until we hung it from the ceiling in our bathroom and that of a bar we designed in Madrid recently.
House of Desire is a different story. That collection got started when we asked ourselves what we could do with existing objects. Daphne bought loads of second hand Dresdner porcelain online. First, she painted all the figurines black and then she added the insects and bell jars as a narrative element. It would be impossible to ask a fair price if you consider all the hours that went into making them all by hand.
We’ve always been busy designing interiors and decorating them. It’s nonsense that you have to pay a fortune for a nice piece of art. Our objects add something crazy to your interior, which is where the name Maddnes comes from. And our work is pretty affordable, especially because we only sell our objects through our own webshop.
You can read part two of this Interiorator exclusive interview with Maddnes here.