IT TAKES TWO: A Collaboration with Roel Van Eekelen
Where did you find your original inspiration for the collaboration?
ROEL: In general I am quite alert to what is going on around me. Small details make life beautiful in my opinion. So it becomes a habit to spot and isolate everyday scenes: a rusty old car with five different paint colours in the driveway, a collage of silos in various sizes covered with different sheet material, an endless windmill park where we look like miniature people, or that construction crane with a surprisingly beautiful color combination.
In contrast to this mellow way of observing what’s around me, I like speed when I go cycling. I enjoy hurting myself a bit and “stoemp” through the polders close to Rotterdam. Those small details that can be seen around me don’t always reach the number 1 priority here. It will become one big blur flying past in the corner of the eye with the exception for things that matter. Such as other traffic and situations where you have to step out of that speed cocoon in order to stay safe. In the meantime, small mental notes are made and saved despite this rush. In a snapshot, I can freeze moments, buildings, objects or situations.
How did that initial idea evolve? What did it turn into?
ROEL: I have done experiments on how these “notes” or “elements” can be formed into a kit. Given the somewhat random nature of recording these notes, it seemed logical to me to also implement this somewhat randomly and playfully on a jersey–almost as if the elements flew against your body at full speed during the ride and got stuck. With the base layer I wanted to complete this representation with extra elements that are visible when you unzip the jersey. These two items complement each other, both in color and graphical representation. On the back of the baselayer, you can see a scene that combines some of these separate “notes” into one fictional world. It’s a world composed of multiple elements you can encounter on a ride. It's great how you can clear your head with cycling, so that there is room to take in new things and let your inner creativity run loose.
How did your relationship with the project / design change as you worked?
ROEL: Designing a cycling kit, as with designing in general, sometimes requires you to put it aside for a while. I noticed with every kit that I have designed so far that the first ideas are not always directly the right ones. It should marinate a little and grow over time and that’s what happened with this project: some ideas and graphics were lost in the process and got replaced by others that better-served the purpose.
I must admit that 75% of the time there comes a moment in the process of designing where I become completely stagnant and don't see the path to success anymore. During tough moments like these I am very happy to be a part of a collaboration and not to get stuck in my own thoughts and “endless” choices. It was nice to go back and forth with the NDLSS team to work towards the end result. Together we looked at what did and did not work, whereby the expertise from NDLSS in the field of production has had a lot of value.
How does this collaboration represent you as a cycling/artist?
ROEL: As a designer, I am not blind to the aesthetic aspect of cycling and I am definitely not the only one lately. The modern options, in terms of choices in material and techniques, ensure a much better fit and better functioning cycling clothing. It's also great that my sister, who has nothing to do with cycling whatsoever, now also realizes that you don’t have to look like a complete idiot in cycling gear. No flappy bits or goofy looking shoes but nice colour combinations and kits that do the human body some good for once. All of this creates the perfect conditions to combine my design work with my hobby: cycling. In this world, I can break free from designing in 2D and create something wearable that wraps around the body. It is also very nice to give love and attention to all items included in the collaboration. Personally, I am a big fan of when a project or product is completed with complimenting branding, like packaging or other forms of presentation to create a “mini” collection so to say. I feel very honored to have been given the opportunity to team up with NDLSS. Not much left to wish for as a designer!