Mary Hessing, founder of WOTH Wonderful Things Magazine
Who are you?
I’m Mary Hessing, the founder of WOTH Wonderful Things Magazine. Until March 2016 I headed up the Dutch monthly Eigen Huis & Interieur and More Than Classic (bi-monthly). I was born in The Hague and I’m a graduate of ARTez Academy of Arts in Arnhem (Fashion and Strategy). WOTH Wonderful Things Magazine will launch in September after completing a successful crowdfunding campaign.
Where do you call ‘home’ and what do you like about it?
I call home the place were my family of five is. Since 2004, we have lived in a converted 19th century dairy factory in the centre of The Hague. I love the fact that this extraordinary spot has been in my family for a long time and that my partner, Toon Lauwen, and I, worked together to enable this rough gem to shine. We’re very proud of the fact that we refurbished this rather big industrial building into a truly cosy family home. I have seen different!
Describe your favourite place to work and the view out the window.
I work best in my personal ‘workroom’ that originally functioned as a drying room for cheese. Its cast iron columns and beams enhance a strong and robust character, and yet it is also a lovely and tranquil room with views onto a large communal garden on one side. On the other side is our small courtyard with a pink Magnolia as a centrepiece. We planted the tree in 2006 when our second daughter was born, when we used this room as our bedroom. I remember being so happy here!
Where do you find inspiration? Where do you ‘get lost’?
As Sir Paul Smith says, you can find inspiration everywhere, you just need to look and always keep an open mind. What inspires me is a person’s quest for quality and true beauty. Last year I had the opportunity to visit Fondazione Prada in Milano, just two months after the museum had opened. I have never been a particular fan of Rem Koolhaas, but I discovered true beauty in what Koolhaas and Miuccia Prada achieved together.
It really moved me. Prada must indeed be a very special lady and I have adjusted my opinion of Koolhaas since. During the same trip, I also visited the Milan Expo 2015. While this mostly felt like an overcrowded fair in the burning sun, I became astounded when walking into the Bahrain pavilion, designed by Dutch architect Anne Holtrop. I passed a long time here: it felt like heaven, an oasis amidst the hot hectic fairgrounds. I enjoyed a wonderful saffron ice cream and sat on the gorgeous furniture of Muller Van Severen, another of my personal favourites. It was weird that the pavilion didn’t seem to attract a lot of people. Their loss and my gain, I guess.
These two visits to me worked like a game changer, steering my choices into a new direction. It occurred to me that, although I had been working very hard for a very long time, I received little acknowledgment or support from my company. It was those visits, like a walk through the serenity of monastery, that helped me focus and aim for better goals.
What is your favourite way to get around and why?
I definitely like to walk, because when walking, you see a lot; a shop window, coffee bar or whatever there is to check out. Biking in the city is nice (when it’s not raining) and you feel the wind through your hair. Only parking and locking feels like a real drain. Driving through Holland on a sunny day in a nice car is very good to get your thoughts in line. Holland can be surprisingly beautiful.
Describe a trend in your industry, or in society more generally, that fascinates you.
I find it strangely fascinating that so many people still seem to think online is something like the holy grail. Because in terms of interesting content and as a business model, it rarely is. Of course digital has changed the manner by which we receive information and gain amusement. Still, never ever has a new medium completely replaced an existing medium. It just adds to the set. Everything just moves and you have to be flexible enough to move along.
Name your favourite spot to hang out when you’re off work
That would be home or the beach. I just love the sea; it is dangerous, but at the same time very comforting.
What’s your favourite city?
New York any time of the year. And Milano during the Salone, which I wouldn’t miss for the world.
Name one object you cannot live without.
I think that would me my mother’s ring – a lovely green antique in gold that she wore until the day she died. It keeps me in touch with her; we have exactly the same hands. She was the most important person to me in the whole world, until our daughters were born.
What’s the most or least exciting thing you’ve got coming up this week?
Showing our daughters Barcelona and Gaudi. They are in for a surprise!
Share your vision with us.
I feel very strongly about doing the right thing and using your full potential. I admire people who believe in something, reach out and aim to achieve the very best they possible can. It may sound missionary, but it is this type of energy that first appealed to me at 17 years old while reading about the architect Howard Rourke in ‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand. Steve Jobs was driven by a similar heartfelt motivation to change things for the better. It entails a lot of creativity, directed by an intuition, and a focus on things that matter. It is not about money. Our drive to launch WOTH Wonderful Things is, in a way, about the same values. So is the content of the magazine, which will focus on creatives and their colourful ways to achieve their potential.