The Dutch pride themselves on their eye for great design, and Venka de Rooij has made it her mission to bring the very best of Dutch design to the UK. Business is booming and it's easy to see why when you look at the goodies on offer at Dutch by Design. We spoke to Venka to find out more:
You started up Dutch by Design in 2002. What was your work background before then?
I worked in London, in the City. I had a job in sales but was thoroughly bored. I was previously involved with fashion and design when living in Amsterdam (my home city) and whilst living in London I realised I missed the buzz, creativity and excitement that went with it. So I stayed in London, got involved with Dutch design and the rest is history.
You stock only the work of Dutch designers on the site - what do you think makes Dutch design so special?
Dutch design is what can only be described as out-of-the-box thinking, it is quite poetic and it has a lot of wit. Materials are used in unconventional ways for everyday objects, such as wine glasses used in a chandelier. Another great example that we stock is the Selfshelf, book shelves that look like books mysteriously floating in the air. Dutch design also offers individuality and a certain quirkiness and kookiness which makes life so much more interesting.
Can you tell us about any new Dutch designers to look out for?
Mischa Vos has designed a wonderful range of chandeliers called the Heavy Guy, which is very masculine looking yet graceful. We're launching his collection at the end of November.
What are your current favourite products on the site?
I really love the Bathing Girls tea cups and tea pot; they are so deliciously quirky and beautiful. The Selfshelves are wonderfully witty and innovative - you can see people doing a double take when they spot them. I am looking for a place in my home to put the Wine glass chandelier, unfortunately I live in a cottage with low ceilings so may have to upgrade to a bigger home with high ceilings first!
What are your best-selling items?
Any of the chandeliers sell really well. I think people are looking for design with more personality and chandeliers are the perfect way to showcase this.
Dutch by Design has celebrity customers including Jools Oliver and Zadie Smith – are you allowed to tell us what they bought?!
I can't tell you what they bought but they do have impeccable taste!
As a successful entrepreneur do you have any advice for any of our readers who may be considering starting up their own business?
Go and write that business plan and then go for it! But don't surround yourself with moaners - they will positively discourage you and suck the life out of you. Network with like-minded individuals. I found Meetup.com and Business Link really useful. There are so many resources for start-up enterprises and best of all they are mostly free! Nowadays you can start most companies at your kitchen table - you could even do it part-time to begin with.