When it comes to designing, they're certainly not the easiest for each other to work with, but there's no question that they're also perfect complements. Which is precisely why Diek Pothoven and Luuk Kuijf have started their own collaboration under the name MARTAN. They’ll show their first joint collection at the upcoming edition of Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek Amsterdam as part of Future Generation. We bring you an interview with both men. "The funny thing is that we get to open the whole show."
Who is MARTAN?
Diek: "MARTAN is Luuk and myself. We both graduated from ArtEZ and we've been working together for a while now. In the evenings we'd get together and hatch secret plans for joint projects, then we'd try to sell them during the day in class."
Hoe zijn jullie samengekomen?
Diek: “We kwamen in het derde jaar bij elkaar in de klas op ArtEZ en begonnen steeds meer samen te werken. Zo gingen we ’s avonds stiekem plannetjes smeden over gezamenlijke opdrachten en overdag tijdens de les probeerden wij die te verkopen.”
Luuk: “Nadat we afgestudeerd waren, hadden we allebei de behoefte om een nieuwe collectie te maken. Op een avond waren we dronken en zeiden we: ‘waarom doen we dat niet samen?’ Samenwerken doen we tenslotte stiekem toch al een hele tijd. In die dronken bui was het eigenlijk al snel beklonken.”
What do you have in common?
Diek: "We've found in each other the only adversary with whom we can actually design. We have a lot to offer each other and we don't steamroll over each other, which makes for a well-balanced duo."
How would you characterise your working relationship?
Diek: "I think, in terms of technical design, we're definitely not the easiest, but in other areas we are. Like we're both social butterflies. But when it comes to design, we both have strong opinions. That's good, because we complement each other. Luuk is a brilliant designer because he can really dive into our inspiration conceptually, then come out the other side with a cast-iron idea in mind. Everything he designs comes straight out of the narrative concept."
"In terms of technical design, we're definitely not the easiest"
Luuk: "Diek designs from a different perspective. He has a more stylish eye. Like if I'm stuck in the conceptual grid, Diek pulls me back out. Which is why, in addition to designing, he works on all kinds of other things within the fashion industry."
How would you describe your style?
Diek: "We're slightly less minimalist now than we were in our graduate collections. We think that every designer can make something spectacular, but creating something spectacular that's also something you still want to wear is a real challenge."
What are your plans for Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek Amsterdam?
Diek: "The funny thing is that we get to open the whole show, which of course is really amazing. It's a tremendous honour because we'll be showing our first collection in the Gashouder, under the umbrella of Future Generation. What's in the collection itself is still a secret. We're designing both men's and women's looks and get ready for a lot of colour!"
Luuk: "We can give you a little sneak peak. Our collection focuses on spirituality and experiences from our childhoods. We want to delve deeper into that, because we ourselves have built up a lot of scepticism towards spirituality and religion, even though there are actually a lot of really lovely and interesting elements there."
Diek: "We're working on some surprising things, and if we were to tell you exactly what we're working on, you may or may not be able to directly envision a garment in connection with it. We really want to surprise our audience with the techniques we're applying. We've been able to work with so many great people and by the time you're done, it's become this big production. We're working with all kinds of fantastic designers on embroideries, knits and shoes and prints and bags. We call them our collaborating artists."
Luuk: "The surprises we'll be unveiling could also mean that MARTAN grows into another discipline. We think Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek Amsterdam is amazing, but it would also be great to one day have a go at the Venice Biennale, as well."
"Our collection is focused on spirituality, on experiences from our youth
Why didn’t you take it any further on your own?
Diek: "Because it's not very social. Plus a duo is the only way to reach a higher goal. You can be strict with yourself, but also which each other, and that combines your strengths. You can also kick each other out of bed if you've worked until five in the morning the night before."
Do you see MARTAN as broader than fashion?
Luuk: "Yes, MARTAN is an overarching team. Our aim is to make a multidisciplinary team from MARTAN. The first manifestation of that is a fashion collection; the next will probably be curating an exhibition or designing a suitcase. We find it inspiring to come into contact with as many different disciplines as possible and then take those experiences with us into the next collection."