"I want people to be satisfied with what they have." Make it last talks to designer Maria Van Nguyen.
Maria Van Nguyen is an emerging designer based in Oslo and New York. We chatted with Maria in 2014 (read here) and are curious of what she’s up to post graduating from Parsons, so we called her up to talk about her future plans and thoughts on sustainable designs.
Maria, what has happened in your life since last time we spoke?
– I graduated from Parsons after a not so inspiring senior year, which only reassured me that there needs to be a shift in the industry. I’m glad that just in the recent years there are more labels focusing on sustainability and that designers understand their role as educators and the impact they have on shaping society.
– This spring I decided to move back home to Oslo after writing multiple pros and cons list. I think Norway is a good place for me to settle down and start my career while being close to family and nature 🙂 Of course, I’ll still visit New York every year.
We hope that you are still planning to launch your own label?
– Yes, that is still my plan for the future but I don’t have any definite schedule or date. The progress is slow but I don’t mind taking my time as it will only make my products better, and I’ll be more confident of what I put out.
– In the meantime I am freelancing and doing various projects while saving up enough resources to get a studio.
In what way will sustainability be present in your future designs?
– I want to work with a local factory so I can visit it frequently and make sure everything is done ethically and that employees are treated well. I also want to be considerate in the fabrics I source, looking for more sustainable options. The garments will be produced in low quantities and will have a timeless design with high-quality, in order to last longer.
– My company will be very small and therefore I will be able to have control over every part of the process. My aim as a designer is not really to create clothes alone, but also to inspire people to be conscious of their actions – appreciate what they purchase and take care good care of it. It should be clear that the brand itself encourages people to buy less. Personally I want people to be satisfied with what they have so that they don’t have to give material things more thought and so they can focus on other important things in life instead.
Last time we chatted you told us that you only buy 5 items per six months. Do you reason the same way today?
– I still do it but has changed it up a little. Now I have a shopping ban for the first six months, and the remaining six months I allow myself 6 items to ‘balance’ out the ban. By doing this I’m proving to myself that I really am content with what I have, then at the same time I’m telling myself that the point is not to ban consumption completely but just being more conscious of what I purchase. It works well and I find it really inspiring to have such a goal.
Most used garment?
– My favourite t-shirt from Acne Studios that I got about six years ago. The soft cotton material has only become more comfortable after all these years and it’s the type of garment I don’t have to be careful when wearing – making it even more comfortable.
First thing you do when you have a day off?
– I turn off the alarm and sleep a lot more. Then I get up, take a shower, and have breakfast with a glass of milk. I really love milk.
Where do you get inspiration from?
– I find beauty in curiosity, honesty, quietness, knowledge and confidence.
If you’re interested in Maria’s world of minimalism, style and art, follow Maria on Instagram @mariavannguyen.
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