Weaving the city together
Interview with Marcel Vermeulen by Viveka van de Vliet.
Marcel Vermeulen, Managing Director Kvadrat Benelux, was one of the founders of GLUE. During a dinner at De Plantage, a plan was forged, which led, among other things, to Kvadrat opening its doors during the event, showing the latest collection of textiles from design agency RAW COLOR.
In 2019, Kvadrat made its showroom on Sarphatistraat available to the jury meetings of the Creative Heroes Award, an initiative of Guus van Maarschalkerweerd and Jeroen van Oostveen. At the closing dinner at De Plantage, Marcel Vermeulen was sitting next to jury member David Heldt, organiser and curator of numerous exhibitions. Heldt’s Connecting the Dots had just come to an end in Milan and he wanted to continue with an idea he had been working on for some time. Vermeulen responded enthusiastically. ‘I thought his plan was cool,’ he says, ‘because I’ve been thinking for a long time that the capital was lagging behind when it comes to design. Rotterdam has Design District, Eindhoven has Dutch Design Week and where is Amsterdam?’
‘I wanted to participate in this initiative but as a sponsor in the background, because I’m far too busy to help organise such an event,’ says one of GLUE’s eight founding partners. ‘The three initiators have now done what I had in mind, enabling you to visit imaginative presentations by professionals from our field in several locations and in different showrooms and show what the city has to offer.’
RAW COLOR, the design studio that researches colour and applies this research in graphic design, product design and photography, has designed a new knitted textile design for Kvadrat brand Febrik that was to be presented at the Salone del Mobile in Milan in April. Because of corona, this upholstery fabric, entitled Planum, in typical RAW COLOR colours has still not seen the light of day. This new collection can be shown during GLUE.
And it’s definitely not a bad location: Kvadrat has an surface area of no less than 650 square meters, is located in the centre of the city around the corner from the Amstel Hotel, has fourteen private parking spaces opposite the hotel, a metro stop that is located almost below the building, and is accessible by bike. ‘Our customers appreciate that very much,’ Vermeulen knows. The large garden, maintained by gardeners, is an extra draw where customer events are held in both summer and winter. This will be no different during GLUE. ‘Everyone knows where we are, so it’s not a coincidence in the capital city,’ he says.
Vermeulen feels closely connected to the city, and is not an Amsterdammer himself, but almost. ‘I was born in Weesp, which is a stone’s throw from Amsterdam and is now part of the municipality of Amsterdam. I’ve been working here my whole career of 25 years, playing sports and I have many business connections in the city.’ One of them is Michel Troost, also a founding partner of GLUE and director/partner of Kasstoor, who has known Vermeulen since he was sixteen when they delivered the post every Saturday for the PTT.
For many creatives, beautiful locations like Kvadrat are out of reach. ‘Especially if you are just starting out as a studio, you’re dependent on one and a half square metres, otherwise you can’t afford it here,’ Vermeulen also knows. ‘This is undeniably the downside of the city. It will eventually get in the way of creativity,’ he suspects. The Danish textile company, founded in 1968, became an independent company in the Netherlands in 1998, for which Vermeulen has been working for twenty years. Together with his fifty employees, he constantly tries to maintain the position the company has built up through product development and innovation. ‘You have to retain customers and collaborate with designers. We release about seventy new products a year and have 5,500 textile products in stock. We can show all that by opening our doors during GLUE, including to private individuals who often do not dare to step inside because we are usually only open to professionals,’ says Vermeulen.