creative chit-chat

Michaël Verheyden


This month his home collection is featured in Monocle, Wallpaper, Elle Decoration and Port. With 4 publications in a row, 6 shops in Belgium and 43 outlets abroad, you could say that the future looks bright for designer Michaël Verheyden. "In Belgium, I’m primarily known as a designer of handbags. It is a image I can hardly get rid of, but I think that in itself it is not so bad. "We meet in Genk, in his home and studio where Michael and his wife Saartje run their label.

How come you chose Genk as your home and work base?

After my studies in industrial design in Genk, I immediately started my own label. My whole adventure began in my room. On the long term, we would like to move out of Limburg, but the space we have now would be so much more expensive in Antwerp or Paris. So if we really want to leave, we'll have to wait and sell a lot more handbags. (laughs)


In your home, we are surrounded by interior objects designed by you. Isn’t it strange to observe and use these objects every day?

If you live with your work, you are constantly confronted with your own design. Consequently, I always apply corrections, because everything has to be perfect. The process of testing and adjusting is very important, because I make products, not art. If I buy a chair, it shouldn’t only be beautiful to look at. It should also serve its purpose: it has to function as a chair to sit on. The chair frame you see here is a frame I made myself. Every design starts from a sketch and a prototype. All of my items are simple and pure. And details and proportions are crucial. It’s nice to see that my products are getting better, as I work more and harder.


Your home collection is a hit abroad, while in Belgium your handbags are more popular.

In our home collection we found a strong signature style that differs quite significantly from others, more than the bags do. The interior objects are called innovative, although we always start from a classical base. With my home collection I don’t get limited by the use of materials and techniques and I can go much further in experimenting, than I can with producing fashion accessories. Moreover, as an accessory designer you’re not able to offer an overall picture and you can’t present a silhouette, as opposed to a fashion designer who can. A bag is only a small part of the fashion world. With the home collection, we can draw a complete picture and create an atmosphere, which makes us strong as an international label.


Are there many similarities between the interior objects and the accessory line?

There is an overlap in the materials used, but there are crossovers in everything I do. If I’m working on a handbag, I can suddenly get an idea for an interior object. And vice versa. My generation and older people are afraid to mix different disciplines and it's nice to see that the younger generation really doesn’t care to stick to one style. To me multidisciplinary thinking and working is an enrichment, because that way I never fall out of inspiration. People like to label you, but a 'gray zone' really does exist.


You also work for other labels and other designers. How do such collaborations develop?

As a designer you build on a vague idea, or you get a complete design brief to start from. I'm always impressed when I get contacted by a big fashion name. They like to call on my technical expertise and therefore I work anonymously, because my personal signature becomes thus less important. Such collaborations get me paid, I visit places I've never been before and I get introduced to a new audience. Sometimes a partnership can grow into a beautiful friendship, as is the case of Bent Van Looy (singer op the Belgian pop band Das Pop). Five years ago I designed a record bag for him and later I helped him to produce a silk scarf. But we have also designed and developed gloves together and now I'm working on the accessories of his menswear label.


How important is the commercial aspect of what you do?

Recently Raf Simons visited my boutique in Antwerp and told me: "Michaël, your prices are good." To me that is a huge compliment! Saartje and I are constantly looking for the right balance between commerce and design. And that is difficult, because we make 100 choices an hour. In terms of technique and material we work very pragmatic. We do not make things very cheap, because we use expensive materials. And sometimes we release objects in limited edition. Commerce is not a dirty word: it is an essential component for those who want to run their own label. And who says the contrary, will not survive. 

Michaël Verheyden


Shop & Showroom

Oudaan 15 winkel 32 , 2000 Antwerpen


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Plant Loving Creatives and their Homes

We traveled from Antwerp to New York looking for interesting creative people
who all share a love for plants.

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About Coffeeklatch

Coffeeklatch stands for ‘Slow journalism using a fast medium.’ Magali Elali and Bart Kiggen created the blog as a creative chitchat featuring creative entrepreneurs in their homes over coffee, including interesting people telling intriguing stories. It celebrates storytelling and creativity in all its forms, from fashion design to architecture. Read More


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Copyright © Coffeeklatch. All rights reserved. All Coffeeklatch original content and photographs are subject to copyright
and must not be reproduced without our express prior written permission.

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