She’s the founder of Dinnerware & Co, the company behind Urban Nature Culture, as well as other big brands in home & living concepts. Many beautiful collections find their home in the Amsterdam based company. With Urban Nature Culture however, Anne has turned the dream she’s cherished for so long, into reality.
Urban Nature Culture is her very own lovechild, a brand that reflects her journey through life. Anne: ”UNC represents everything I stand for. It lets us meet the people we work for, the team we’ve created the collections with and the craftsmen who produced it. From each journey I make, whether for work or pleasure, I return with new stories. Those stories are part of me, they’ve grown on me. With UNC I’d like to share them. I felt it was time to start our own brand, to set myself a new challenge. Creating beautiful products with a great team, coming from inspirational sources. Not only because of the raw materials used, but also setting forth a legacy, the heritage of craftsmanship. The thing is, I felt the need to work on UNC in order to still be happy in my own creativity. And once I did, things grew organically. I met new people and reunited with old friends and it all came together. With such a great team by my side, I’m so proud of the first collection. They all put their ideas, effort and faith into it. I’m really grateful for that.”
For as long as Anne can remember, she’s been fascinated with travelling, seeing the world, meeting people and discovering their stories. Ever since the age of 12, when she took a summer course in Oxford, she’s been curious about people and the way they live their life. Including the way they eat their food. Anne: “When I went to Oxford, I thought that there’d be a Jane Austin kind of family waiting to collect me at the airport. Well, they were anything but that. But I did have a great time. I actually still have the baking book the lady of the house gave me as a present. I’ll never forget their daily ritual of high teas with scones and sponge cake. Next to that first solo trip, I used to spent every Easter at my aunt’s house in Brussels, together with my niece Dasja. Together, we’d stroll down the Brussel flea markets and antique fairs, and it’s there where my love for heritage and porcelain finds its origin. Flea markets can tell you stories of the past, while fairs and bazaars in lots of countries tell you all about the food culture and the rituals that come along with it. It always comes with a certain decoration, atmosphere and typical utensils. That’s what makes it so special. We take heritage from the past and create our own history. For me, one can’t exist without the other. Contemporary thinking and thinking of the future is the mind of creative people. Without them, we wouldn’t evolve and discover. It’s where creativity starts.”
When Anne sets out to meet the world, she always tries to go off the beaten path. If one thing’s to say about her taste in travelling, it’s that she has a sixth sense in finding the hidden gems. Just this Easter, she visited Finca Buenvino, a family-run Bed & Breakfast in Sierra de Aracena Nature Park, near Seville, Andalucia, Spain. “I met Jeannie and Sam Chesteron and their family there. They’ve been living in the Sierra for nearly 33 years and are self-sustaining in all they eat and drink. We had lovely evening chats during Easter by the fireplace and shared coffee outside in the first sunshine of spring. Another great memory was made this Easter. My years of travelling are full of great memories like these. The beauty of travelling is meeting people and sharing the stories they tell you. You cannot imagine what I’ve learned from people all around the world, just by listening to what they tell me. You’ll meet inspiring people in every part of the globe.”
However, no matter how far she’s travelled and how exciting the journey’s been, she always loves to come home. Involved with so many different design brands, we can’t help but be curious what her own home interior looks like. Anne: ”It’s like the UNC collection, lots of white with a mixture of eclectic heritage kelims, contemporary art and furniture, a real blend of styles. Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved to set tables, all according to the food, the mood and the moment. Sometimes I love to set a romantic table with lots of poetry flowers, and sometimes I like to dine ‘clean’, with black table ware. Whatever I buy, I hardly ever change for something else. I bought these items with a certain consistency. I get used to the feeling it gives me, the material of it, and then it travels with me as long as I live, I guess. I hardly give away or sell things. “
So, back to UNC and its beautiful products. From bamboo plates to ceramic jugs, jute storage bags, mangowood bowls, plant hangers and organic cotton cushions, each Urban Nature Culture piece is inspiring in its own way. Anne: “The spring and summer collection is the first UNC collection in which we bring the bright summer greens, the South American inspired birds, colors, designs and patterns to life. We love the cactus and aloe vera plant, not only as a print, but also in our home. Jute cotton baskets are key in the collection, as is the bamboo printed tableware. On one of my trips, I found Beldi recycled glassware from Morroco, and it’s now part of the collection. All of our collectables go well in an urban environment. It’s a collection where we meet urban, nature and culture right in our own homes.”
One of the things about UNC that Anne’s most proud of, is the team behind it. The people that made it possible. “We work in a creative team. It’s not just one designer. One of them is Gyda. She’s a real dreamer. Gyda is an incredibly talented artist, who makes beautiful dreams come true. She’s turned our brand values into the most beautiful artistic guidelines. But besides dreamers, you also need people in your creative team to make them happen. Jeanette is one of them. She’s very experiences in home & living and approaches her design qualities from a retail perspective, which is of great value. Of course, we need prints and patterns. For the first collection, Margreet did a great job at painting the designs herself. They’re absolutely stunning. To put the collection into words, we’ve got Danielle. She’s a little diamond who’s able to translate all of my words and thoughts into exactly that, so our dear customers understand what we mean. But these talents are only just some of our team members. Each of our team members is important, without them there’d be nothing to buy, to sell or to deliver.”
All these collectables and beautiful item from far-away places have us wonder, does that mean that when Anne bumps into a beautiful piece at a local market far away from home, she’s able to add it to the next UNC collection? “Haha, sure! As soon as something like that happens, I start to ask around. Sometimes I drive around for hours, trying to find the spot where it’s produced. You’ll read the story of an item we found in Goa, India, last Christmas, on our blog soon. We found the craftsman who makes it and now we produce it with them.” UNC definitely makes it feel like a small world.