Can you tell us some things about yourself?
Hi I am Patricia, I studied Graphic Design in the Art Academy in Maastricht and finished my diploma in 2001. In the beginning I was kind of afraid to be self- employed so I worked in the private sector until I realised I need to be my own boss and started in 2003 my design brand PYG. So the breaking point included the design of furniture and accessories, and along with Fabian Seibert we took part in a lot of art fairs around the world such as in Milan, Barcelona, Tokyo, Moscow and others. In 2005 we signed in for the Young Designers’ Competition together with two other friends from Aachen and all four of us managed to gain a position and represented Aachen design at the fair. The result was the birth of the concept “Aachen Design Metropole” which we worked on to connect people from different disciplines such as fashion design, product design, social design and also we connected to the region and the community.
We worked on workshops, career development performances and networking and together with Fabian we developed to be the front people of Design Metropole Aachen and also the German partner of Fashion across Borders.
Personally my work expands into different fields. I am the CEO of Hotel Total, a company we founded with my sister and aims to be a space of culture, discussion and community. In addition, since seven years I teach at the University of Aachen Design and Design Engineering where we try to connect students of the region with MAFAD Maastricht for instance based on euregional relationships and networking.
What are you looking forward to?
As my unique selling point I would reckon the inclusivity we aim at. Using interdisciplinary principles what we try to do is to connect and share knowledge and experience. What is more, innovation I would say: We do things that people do not expect. I started as a product designer but my view has expanded into social design and investing my creativity into the enhancement of our environment, our society, our co-existence. We need to know how to shape our future together. Another characteristic of our unique element is the irritation we create I could say.
What are you looking forward to?
We really think about a follow-up project of Hotel Total; we aim for another location because it is the ground where I am able to combine my work in the university, my design, creativity and the impact to society that is necessary, especially in the perilous age we live in, with situations such as immigration and refugee. In a way I am focusing on what I really want. We also established a collaboration between Low-tec and Hotel Total, to support the integration of refugees and help them stand back on their feet. I imagine a space where I can bring together my university students, refugees, designers and professionals; a space of freedom and creativity.
Now about my PYG brand, work never stops on the online shop and together with Fabian we had our collection of Psycho-furniture collection which was actually based on a serious question: “How many products does this world need?” and includes products like the“anorexic bed” or “the depressive chair”. It is a matter of balance, we are always on the border between art and commercial design. This is the trick, I suppose. The specific collection was included into the art fair of Milan but also in the art gallery of Berlin for instance.
What advice would you give to other professionals?
Find out what you really want, what you are burning for. You need passion and courage. There is nothing that can make you happier than doing what you really love. It is easy to say but not as easy in action, I would suggest to start small but be continuous. I’ve been busy for 12 years and I have tried so many different things. If I stayed with my designs of bags and accessories, I would have stayed immobile. I personally suggest continuous movement, sharing of knowledge and focus on what you love. I mean it needs struggle. I also worked for years in a company printing T-shirts part-time in my very beginning and the rest of the day I was working to develop my own label. And as you see there are so many creatives and labels online nowadays so you need to find your voice, your story which will set you special in the market.
What are the challenges we need to overcome in order to make cultural entrepreneurship more accessible?
I think it needs more visibility and support from professionals working in the municipalities and in the political field. We creatives may not be the best in calculations and budgeting but our solutions to problems the community faces are unique and they need to trust us more. In Germany for instance there is not a lot of flexibility when it comes to decision making and a lot of decisions are based on obsolete regulations and convictions. It is important also to have knowledge and share this knowledge. Creatives need to know which politician controls which position and based on transparency and flexibility more and more projects and initiatives can flourish, not only in Germany but throughout the broader region. Creatives can provide emotion and a different view in problems that need solution in the society. More and more the municipalities are selecting creative solutions but there is still a long way to go.
Do you consider yourself a European professional and artist?
I am feeling European. I am the agent of the Euregional Creative Hub and all my collaborations almost are across borders. You know you can see my mobile text messages being “Welcome to the Netherlands” or “Welcome to Belgium” and my network is borderless. I studied in Maastricht and regardless the language barrier I feel deep connections between the countries of the region here. If you look at our Euregional Creative meetings there are personal exchange, borderless discussion and connections.