Milou Ket is a world famous Dutch designer and trend forecaster. She helped many world famous events and brands to set their trends and to develop their new collections. We conducted an exclusive interview with her at the eve of Heimtextil, Domotex, IMM and Maison & Objet fairs while we were wrapping up t 2017 and looking ahead 2018..
Milou, you have been presenting your Interior Forecasts in our magazine already for many years. Now it is time to ask you some questions about your other activities. Can you tell us something about your background?
First of all, I am a kind of a born trend watcher, I am usually ahead of everybody else, I had that already as a child. I have a background in fashion and retail, so textiles have always been an important focus. After a year in the USA and Art Academy in Amsterdam, I worked for 6 years in retail, as a fashion concept designer in a design team, for a large chain of department stores with now more than 700 shops in the Netherland. During that period I travelled extensively, in Europe an also outside Europe. In 1980 I started my own company: “Milou Ket styling & design”. One of my first free-lance jobs was to make a fabric collection for a Dutch fabric company, I did that for 8 years. I am specialized in concept development, colour cards; I composed the collections and made the presentation on fairs. Making colour combinations has always been an important part of my job. I have a forward thinking mind. I worked for the Dutch Fashion Institute, informing and inspiring my colleagues.
How come you moved into Interiors?
A company asked me if I could also make forecasts/styling reports for glass, earthenware and porcelain. So I did and realized there is not that much difference between fashion and interiors: you have to observe the signs of the time, but style, colour, print or surface design, …it is a cross-over.
Besides the books that I make on Interior trends and Innovation, I have a extensive experience in consultancy. I worked for almost 6 years as consultant architecture for Swarovski in Austria, where I made trend reports on product development for lighting, bathrooms, window decoration, furniture and architectural solutions with crystal. I also worked for their Innovation Lab, centre for Ideas, Innovation and Inventions . I learned so much, that it inspired me to make a book on Innovation.
Can you tell some more about your connections with Turkish Textiles?
I first came privately to Istanbul, for vacation with my family. I have been one of the first speakers at Evteks, I have given presentations during 12 years. My books were sold to Turkish companies, I also worked in close collaboration with several Turkish brands. After I was invited to be keynote speaker in 2013 at a conference about Asian Luxury Hospitality Projects in Singapore, I had to get into this luxurious market. I have been quite often in Asia, and I see it as a kind of mission to pair luxury with good taste. After that, I have been a speaker at the INDEX fair in Dubai, speaking about my book and about luxury materials, for the Surface Design School during the fair. When I was asked to make mood boards for 5 private jets by the industrial designers of Fokker Services for a Chinese customer, I felt very comfortable. So, because I have visited the Evteks so often and know what the Turkish textile market has to offer, and know at the other hand the demands from the hospitality market, I felt confident enough to accept the invitation of the Uludag, the Association of Turkish weavers, to make a trend presentation for Heimtex in January 2015. I formed a team with Marc Geysen and together we designed a booth, selected the fabrics in Bursa, made the presentation and I made a booklet and powerpoint presentation.
Can you tell us some more about your Turkish customers?
I worked two years ago for Vino Kadife in Bursa. I was introduced to them at Heimtex in Frankfurt. Actually they needed a technical designer, but I firstly proposed to them to make a trend report to start with. I have visited the company in Bursa and they have explained their way of working, their collection and have shown their equipment. They told me about their possibilities and impossibilities. After that, in my studio and during my trips, I collected swatches with interesting technical solutions, weaves, finishes, colours, compositions etc. Then I made a digital trend report, focussing on their markets. Those are the velvet markets in Turkey and the Middle East, and the contemporary European market. Besides the fabrics, the complete report was made on the computer, in Powerpoint. I have made mood boards focussing on Middle Eastern motives, colours, sizes, applications and colour combinations. I have been a few times in the Middle East, and I know the Turkish market quite well, but this was an interesting new assignment to get into. In the meantime I have learned a lot, not only about the market and their preferences, but also how to make my mood boards with Powerpoint. I know now how to manipulate and correct the colours and the size, so I find it very exciting. The final report was at the end printed for the company but also one for the technical designer, that I introduced. Vino Kadife considers the report as a treasure for their product development for the coming years.
How do you identify a trend? / How are trends created?
It is a continuous process of observation and research, based on social, cultural and economic changes and consumer behaviour. I visit around 15 fairs and design events a year, and also see the shops in those cities. I am part of the concertation team for the MoOD fair in Brussels, where I exchange ideas with other trend watchers. I follow trade and consumer magazines. I have my antenna “switched on” for all things that are different or new. I am like a filter or funnel or lens.
Can you tell me more about your trend books?
My books are “my projects”; it takes a lot of time to put them together. I publish a colour box, for the winter and summer season. And once every year an Interior styling book. In the book more than 150 sample materials are shown. It usually contains 6 themes, and there are colour cards included. I print the colours myself, but the book contains also a list of the closest Pantone Cotton colours. With the book comes a usb-card with a Powerpoint presentation with all the explanations, references and sources. I only make a new Innovation Lab book, when I feel there is a need for new ideas, but it does not have a fixed rhythm.
I enjoy most about my work to make the mood boards. It is my creative expression. It is a tiring and challenging, but inspiring process. To visualize the information and to connect the expertise that I have collected in the most relevant and aesthetic way in my mood boards: working with colour, form and material. That is what I love most.
How do you sell your books?
The books are available through a network of agents worldwide. My Turkish agent is Didem Baykal of Fabric Concept in Istanbul.
What was your most interesting assignment?
When I worked on the mood boards for 5 private jets, where after a briefing and in collaboration with the client and the industrial designer, I visualised the different target groups, translated those and evoked an atmosphere by means of colours, materials, textures, weaves and relevant products. It was an assignment for Fokker Services in the Netherlands, for a customer in China. It brought a lot of the things I am interested in together. I got the assignment because I do not have a fixed style, but am more versatile than some other interior designers. All five proposals had to be different, and had to appeal to a different customer. Also a Feng Shui consultant had to look at the mood boards.
What is the latest project you have been working on?
This year I have made for the third time a trend presentation for Rasch Wallcoverings in Germany. It gives an overview of current and emerging tendencies in decoration and wallpaper. I can use the same themes as I do in my own books, but have to translate the themes for Rasch, and their target groups. Also in this case the communication between the company, the art director and the PR department is important. I have visited the factory in Germany to understand what they are working on. My latest assignment was a product presentation for China Home in Hong Kong/ Shanghai, aimed at Restoration Hardware in the USA. I started out showing them directions and themes for fabric development. After consultation with the customer, via Skype and What’s app, I made colour cards per theme, and made proposals for colour ways. The next step was to present the materials in a nice way. Therefor I made a Powerpoint presentation, showing the total ambiance and interiors, where the fabrics should fit in. This presentation is finally printed in a very impressive 60 x 80 cm format book, and the fabric swatches have been glued in, so RH can truly enjoy the look and feel of the materials. The book and the materials have just been presented, so I cannot show them.
What are your plans for the future?
I like to bring across exciting ideas for the future. My Innovation book has been made already a few years ago, but is still very up-to-date. It shows the possibilities of 3-D printing, interactive products, case studies and prototypes. Also exciting materials and their application are shown. My starting point is always colour, and I show the connection between colour, materials and products. I make mood board to convey this connection. I have a website www.milouket.tv where I continue to follow interesting technological or bio-based developments. Currently I am very much inspired by Gunter Pauli’s “Blue Economy”, the circulair economy, a necessary change in our attitude towards design to diminish our ecological footprint.
#trends, #MilouKent, #Heimtextile