Interview with founder and creator of De Moerbei.
Can you tell us about the work you guys do at de Moerbei?
The Moerbei is a vocational training program for individuals needing assistance in finding their inner strengths and motivation. Trained mentors coach the participants in one of the 5 workshops: woodworking (SPIJKER), bicycle design and repair (MOER), cooking and catering (MOERBIJT), animal husbandry & gardening (BEIJ) and craftshop (MAAK). In the different workshops the participants create unique products with the focus on recycling and environmentally friendly materials. By empowering the participants and involving them in the entire product cycle, they gain self-confidence and purpose.
How did your project start?
The Moerbei was founded in 2012 by Villa Boerebont which is a foundation located in Breda, the Netherlands. Villa Boerebont provides a safe home for youths and assists them in finding their place in society. In the early days of the foundation it became evident that the youngsters needed a purpose and the proper guidance to learn basic work- and social skills. The Moerbei provides the environment in which this can be achieved. One of the first workshops was MOER since everybody in the Netherlands has affinity with bicycles.
Can you explain the relationship between bicycles and the Netherlands?
The Dutch are very fond of their bicycles and literally learn to cycle before they can walk. The flat country obviously lends itself to self propelled transport.
During WW2, bicycles were the main mode of transport. However after the war, the car overtook the bicycle as favored transportation. When road deaths in the 70’s reached a maximum, the Dutch governement decided to improve the bicycle infrastructure and safety across the country. Since then, bicycles have become synonymous with Dutch culture. The bike is an integral part of everyday life rather than a specialist’s accessory or a symbol of a minority lifestyle, so Dutch people don’t concern themselves with having the very latest model of bike or hi-tech gadgets. They regard their bikes as trusty companions in life’s adventures. In that kind of relationship it is longevity that counts - so the older, the better.
How did you come up with the design for the Matinique-bike?
The Matinique bicycle takes its design from the interior of the Matinique Concept Store in Amsterdam. The color is the same as the storefront and the wood incorporated in the bicycle is also used in the wooden floor in the shop. The leather and wood give the bicycle a natural look and feel; and the base colors black and gray reflect the luxury that everyone expects from Matinique.