Hester van Eeghen
Hester van Eeghen was born in Amsterdam, the youngest of five children. Her family has been involved in the arts in The Netherlands in one way or another since the 17th century. She studied literature at the University of Amsterdam, and soon got involved with theatre, acting, and producing musicals. It was during that time she also started designing bags and working with leather.
She learned the technical craft of leather construction by working with a suitcase designer who encouraged her to perfect the smallest details. She scraped together money to buy small pieces of leather, and created bags, one by one, which she sold in local street markets. With each bag she sold she would buy more leather, make more bags, and so on, until she finally was able to open her shop at 37 Hartenstraat.
Her designs are for sale in over 150 museums and design stores over the world and are sold in several countries like Germany, the UK, Japan and the USA. She is regarded as one of the influential Dutch designers of the 20th century.
Her work was published in over 200 interviews in magazines (NRC Handelsblad, Volkskrant, International Herald Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Trouw, Het Parool, De Telegraaf, Het Financieel Dagblad – HP/De Tijd, Vrij Nederland, Art Aurea, Holland Herald etc..), television and radio. It is listed in an inventory of Dutch Design in the 20th Century (Ton Lauwen 2003).
Both in 1998 and 2008 at the occasion of her first and second decade in design, Hester van Eeghen created a collection of 24 unique pieces that were auctioned at Sotheby's Amsterdam, with the proceeds going to the Foundation Hester van Eeghen Leather Design. Every two years, the Foundation organises a competition in collaboration with the Museum of Bags and Purses as a stimulus for designers who work with leather. The theme of the competition focuses on the historical collection of the museum, for example the 2010 theme is Dine & Date. The winner of the Leather Design Prize will have their design produced in a series of 30 pieces. It is an opportunity for the designer to become familiar with the entire process from design to end product.
In 2008, after 20 years of designing, Hester was made a Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau and given the decorations by the Mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen for her contribution to Dutch Design.