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Meet DUX

There is a new design label in town and it’s name is DUX. Brother and sister duo Sander and Heleen Hagelaar have set out to create a lifestyle brand encompassing interior products and fashion, in their spare time.

By Cassandra Pizzey / 20-03-2014

It’s a difficult world out there for young product designers, which is why Sander Hagelaar has started early. Still a product-design student in Amsterdam, the young creative has teamed up with sister Heleen and started a design label named DUX. Among their first products is a lighting series made of plywood and inspired by their native Dutch canals. Time for a Q&A.

Please tell us about your background and why you decided to start a new design label.

“We grew up in Wageningen and now both study in different cities. Sander studies product design in Amsterdam and Heleen goes to the University School of Governance in Utrecht.

Sander has always been interested in design and dabbled in websites for small businesses as a teenager before going on to product design.

Sander made some lamps for a school assignment and people started to ask where they came from and if they were for sale. After a while, Heleen got the idea to start up a business with her brother. After playing around with the idea to start up a textiles label, a complete lifestyle brand was the next logical step.”

The first products for DUX are a series of lights made from plywood and named the Canals Collection. 

Can you tell us about you lamp collection?

“The lamps are a combination of handicraft and industrial design, made up from individual pieces of plywood that are joined together. The lights each have their own unique sense of movement and capture the idea of wood hovering between light and air.”

What does the name DUX stand for?

“DUX is an old Roman term that refers to the leaders of the troops. Nowadays we don’t all aspire to be leaders, you can be what you want to be. That freedom is DUX. It is also the freedom to create without boundaries. For instance I love art projects and great-quality clothes. Our next project will be a backpack in collaboration with the talented designer David Koeks. It’s something completely different to our lighting objects.”

Do you think it’s difficult for young/new designer to start their own label? Production costs are high and it’s hard to get your product on the shelves.

“Starting a label is supposed to be hard, you want to run into things and make mistakes. How else can you expect to make progress? If it was easy it would be a lot more boring. In the beginning you’ll only bring in a tiny profit which makes it difficult to sell your products in the shops. Passion is the only thing that can keep you going. It’s about finding creative ways to sell, shop, market. There are enough creative solutions though: social media is an effective marketing tool, restaurants can function as showrooms, pop-up shops may sell you products and there are always collaborations.”

How do you aim to stand out in the crowd?

“By having a varied set of items. There are products which are more art and ave a story or meaning, and then you can buy a pretty good ergonomic backpack. What we want to achieve with are products is to get people to look twice and really notice the details. We want to stand out, but without having to shout.”

Can you tell us what your ultimate goal is for DUX?

“We are real dreamers. We would like to see DUX in shops, on the street, and in exhibitions. The ultimate dream would be to open a DUX store where everything comes together. Where different groups of people come to buy furniture, clothes or to discuss DUX pieces or other art. Admittedly, this dream is still quite far away but if it wasn’t, where would the challenge be?”

The first exhibition of the Canals Collection will be in Nijmegen, keep an eye on for more info.