Maria Dermengiu, founder of the brand Marie Nouvelle

© Marie Nouvelle/ Courtesy of Marie Nouvelle


Article by Roxana Florina Popa

Marie Nouvelle:

The sophistication of pastels.

The pulsation of round gardens.

The breathe of femininity and serenity.

Marie Nouvelle’s scarves wear the soul of Maria Dermengiu’s paintings. Their colours and forms create a mosaic of effervescent energy. Their tonic design enhances your exuberance in the spring, your thirst for paradise in the summer, your accomplishments in the autumn and your cheerfulness in the winter.

An interview with the visual artist who created flying wings for paintings

RFP:       What brings the new collection Marie Nouvelle ?

MD :      The new collection Marie Nouvelle is inspired by the Bohemian Bourgois style, a relaxed, elegant and eclectic style. The scarves are of large dimensions, 1.20m x1.20m, vaporous, made of silk crêpe de Chine whose texture brings refinement. They are all-time season to wear in the spring and in winter, wrapped around the neck.

The symbolistic of the collection is special, related to mandalas, inner journeys, initiatory flights and charmed lands. This is what I paint on canvas and I like to give further.

collage initiation

Exquisite Collection

© Marie Nouvelle/ Courtesy of Marie Nouvelle

RFP :      I confess I have always been fascinated by the rich patterns on women’s kerchiefs in Romania. Why are kerchiefs and scarves so enigmatic? What do they hide in their multitude of details?

MD :      First of all, they have the mark intended by the painter. As a visual artist, I have the tendency to draw circles and other symbols unintentionally. They just came naturally. I discovered their significance later, by reading about them, about Jung’s archetypes and Romanian mythology. All these symbols can be communicated on any surface. They have energy. I believe that an artist is responsible for what he or she puts out into the world. People wearing their creations should be aware of the artist’s mark.

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“Wheels” scarf, crêpe de Chine

© Marie Nouvelle/ Courtesy of Marie Nouvelle

RFP :      Have you read Carl Jung’s writings about  mandalas?

MD :      About mandalas, no, however, I read Jung’s writings during studentship. I did not go in depth into the mandalas’ topic and what I painted on canvas was a surprise for me, too. When I decided to become an artist, there was an inner shift. All that came out on canvas, came from inside myself. I do not do any research or establish a topic to study in books or online. I simply let everything come naturally.

I think this is the most authentic way to be an artist. I have my own surprises when painting!

circular wish esarfa cover

                                                    “Circular Wishes” Scarf                                                   © Marie Nouvelle/ Courtesy of Marie Nouvelle

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“Happy Hills” Scarf

© Marie Nouvelle/ Courtesy of Marie Nouvelle

RFP :      I see it is very beautiful to create this way.

What did you like to create new on the market when deciding to launch a product like the scarf?

MD :      I did not invent the wheel or the forms, nor have I looked beforehand on the market to see what I could bring differently. I just told myself that it is important to convey my message. If all of us were honest with ourselves, we could see that we already carry authenticity and diversity in ourselves.

I realised that what I could give the world from my painting is something I do with my hands instead of creating digital forms on computers, such as vectors.

Of course, the scarves are not hand-made, as I often hear more and more around. Scarves need to be manufactured in a way that makes them resist time. This means they have to go through an industrial process which fixes pigments and colours.

As for my painting on canvas, this is where I can bring my personal hand-made contribution.

What makes my scarves unique is bringing my painting closer to lovers of beauty and art and sharing my art vision.

RFP :      It feels very good to understand that patterns and forms on your scarves are created by your hand, mind and heart. At this moment I see this magic transfer of forms from canvas on your scarves.

What kind of textile are the scarves made of? Who decides on what materials to use?

MD:       Marie Nouvelle is essentially an applied-art project. The first piece was made of silk, a fine, natural, delicate and bohemian material just like my inner world.


Maria Dermengiu

© Marie Nouvelle/ Courtesy of Marie Nouvelle

The moment I felt silk was a natural extension of my inner world, it was obvious to transpose my paintings on a silk surface. It was the most natural thing to do.

RFP:       Could you tell us where the material and the scarves are manufactured?

MD :      I tried to fabricate in Romania everything I created, to find local suppliers and partners and together to grow a local production. Thanks to proximity, I find it easier to collaborate, to express myself and to arrive at the final product with local instead of external partners.

The scarves from the most recent collection, The Exquisite, I had made in London, the closest factory for me, because the local technology did not allow things I could obtain there. I wish I could continue producing the large scarves in Romania and I hope that the local factory succeeds in investing in technology. We have only one factory in the country which prints on natural textiles compared to many more printing on polyester and synthetic textiles.

Both for scarves and the home-deco area I developed, I work also with other inland factories.

RFP:       Where exactly are these factories in Romania?

MD :      For the collection Marie Nouvelle Casual including bags, envelope bags, mobile and tablet covers, all are printed, sewn and packaged in Jassy. For the home-deco area, meaning ceramics, faience, shade lighting, I found a factory in Târgu Mureş. They work for external partners and they were kind to take over also small projects with local retail.

RFP: Congratulations! I am happy you managed to involve the local industry in your projects.

MD :      Indeed, I intend to stay and create in Romania, to have local partners and a good basis inland, even if I will start exporting one day. I want to have good roots here.

MN Silk Art_314

© Marie Nouvelle/ Courtesy of Marie Nouvelle

RFP:       It seems that local partners able to support small projects or big factories open to take on such projects are very much needed.

MD :      Exactly. In particular, they should not focus only on export and big quantities, such as those from China. The few designers that survive in the internal economy do not produce industrial quantities. Creative industries are at their beginnings in Romania. Despite having a lot of initiative, we encounter many difficulties in manufacturing when it comes to small quantities.

RFP:       All these aspects of the Romanian market are very interesting. I can feel this need of young entrepreneurs who have the courage to start a creative project and need a lot of support because they do not have the capacity to produce large quantities in the beginning. They need to gain trust, to get the market familiar with their products. It is a learning process both for the entrepreneur and the market. It would be wonderful to have producers reserve time for small projects and designers.

MD :      We need this because it is such a risk when you want to implement a creative idea. You propose it to the market without being absolutely sure that it will accept it. The idea is not to imitate and make what is mass market or successful or what exists abroad, but something with our own personalities and capabilities. We need time to understand how it functions and we need the support of our partners.

RFP:       I think that the market should adapt to the new trends, already coming up abroad in the luxury sector, where designers develop their own projects without doing huge projects. These initiatives have to maintain originality and be at the border between luxury and art. I refer to producing less and of very good quality and creativity.

abajur birou Emotive

Design Marie Nouvelle

© Marie Nouvelle/ Courtesy of Marie Nouvelle

MD :      Here comes a nation’s mentality. The price dictates on the inland market and not the other elements that make a product valuable. What do we consider valuable? Few people understand creation and manufacturing. I would like to make a video showing the whole process: how an idea transforms from pencil and brush to digital, is sent to factories, where it is finished in a workshop and becomes the packaged product. In this same process, the designer has to correctly communicate the product, place it on the market and manage all related matters. Few people know that on our market you have to do all these by yourself.

As a designer, one does not do wholesale. We do not take a product from other markets and sell it here. We do create it from the beginning to the end. This involves effort and the talent to have and develop the idea, but also turn it into a marketable product.

Here the price reflects all these aspects. The client asks how much it costs and not why it costs so much. What makes the product special? Clients need to be educated more in this respect.

RFP :      I notice two aspects: one is the necessity to film the creation and production process, what luxury houses abroad have already done, in order to emphasize the craftsmanship and traditions…

MD :      …and all the work and dedication invested in products, which are not made by big groups like Inditex with Zara and Massimo Dutti, which customers should understand …

RFP :      The number of hours invested and the craftsmanship, all that is communicated by luxury companies.

The second noticed aspect is the mentality in Romania that is wishing good quality products. I suppose it comes from being used to having good products at a time the industry functioned well and could deliver quality. I believe these expectations are still there and it is not easily accepted that quality disappointing products appeared on the market in the last 25 years. Here is the challenge: to compete with no-quality products at a very low price that you find everywhere, benefit of proximity, are easy to accept and buy. Customers need to understand that returning to a good quality level means considerable effort. First of all, they need to think of all the courage to put a good product on the market.

MD :      We want quality and align ourselves with Occident’s trends and have high expectations. Most of us travel a lot and as a nation we care about our physical aspect, but, if possible, at a price and economy of Romania. Here is the discrepancy: between not being willing to pay the price for a product created with a lot of investment compared to mass market products and the wish for luxury quality as in countries with tradition, where customers think differently, know the difference and want to pay the price. We wish things, know them, but we do not want to invest in our talents and prefer products which are neither nor, however, they seem to be ok.

peacock black white cover

Exquisite Collection

© Marie Nouvelle/ Courtesy of Marie Nouvelle

RFP : I wish Romanians appreciate more and more products of good quality and creativity and the entrepreneur’s courage and talent, support him or her and direct themselves towards the good local industry. The smaller, the easier to support at this time.  

MD :      I am on the right way, being able to support myself entirely from my applied art. Our market is opening and I believe things will get better. There is a place for the Romanian design. The customer needs to imagine the person behind the product and how her whole life turns around this creation. It is all about a collective effort to support in order to continue having access to this kind of products.

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“Blossom” Design

© Marie Nouvelle/ Courtesy of Marie Nouvelle

RFP :      It is important that customers understand the designer’s dedication for the product.

You talked about the dimensions of your scarves. In how many ways one can wear them? What is your preferred way to wear them?

MD :      There are many different ways. I made a catalogue based on their versatility.

I have a simple way of wearing them. The mid-sized, 67cm x 67cm, I wear them in V form, in front, to show their pattern. I do not tie them too tight to let the pattern show.

The large-sized, 1.20m x 1.20m, are worn in front, around the neck and falling on both the right and left side, in a simple, casual way, or folded around the neck in the spring and winter to feel how they cover and take care of you. Scarves have an aesthetic, but also a useful function, protecting against wind and less nice weather.

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“Peacock” Scarf

© Marie Nouvelle/ Courtesy of Marie Nouvelle

RFP :      Do you know a passionate of scarves in Romania or abroad?

MD :      Honestly, no, but my clients buy many scarves and collect them, change them based on colours, fashion, or where they go, to the office, a cocktail or a tea. Scarves are an accessory, which beautify vestments. A scarf bejewels. Usually, I do not wear both scarves and jewels. I choose either one or the other.

RFP :      Your first profession before becoming an artist and scarf designer, was the legal profession. Did you use to wear scarves as a lawyer?

MD :      Law was the first degree I got when I was 23. I had scarves and I did not perceive them as I do now, after 10 years. I did not use to have a very serious attire, such as a suit. I think my artist spirit made itself visible even at that time.

I bought myself scarves when I was a child. Surprisingly, I did not wear them with a suit. I found other manners of wearing them because I considered them as being part of a bohemian world.

Contrary to appearances, they are not appropriate only for an office, corporate environment.

They belong to the modern woman, either bohemian or career-orientated, but with the soul of an artist.

RFP :      Where can your scarves be purchased?

MD:       Online on my website and in Bucharest in few concept-stores. The most renowned is a bookshop concept-store, called Cãrtureşti, having a section of Romanian design. Here are a few designers exhibited and we are happy to have this opportunity offered to the local market to sell its products. The other concept-stores are fashion focused.

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Maria Dermengiu (left) with Mihaela Cârlan, publisher (right)

Launching of the Exquisite Collection, Bucharest, 19 November 2015

© Marie Nouvelle/ Courtesy of Marie Nouvelle

RFP :      What is the next product you intend to apply your patterns on?

MD:       I thought of ceramics. I have not found the supplier yet to print on a complete set of tableware. I need my patterns to look well qualitatively and have vivid colours.

A recent idea is to make something that would be the next Zara Home, something original with local designers.

Design with heart 2(1)

Design with heart

© Marie Nouvelle/ Courtesy of Marie Nouvelle

RFP : I think it is all about networking and collaborating with Romanian designers. The best thing that could happen is that they associate on various themes and products. We can imagine a concept-store dedicated to Romanian designers.

MD :      I think it starts developing and I would involve myself in organising and managing it.

RFP :      I am happy to hear there is so much passion and enthusiasm. I really wish for Romania that such things happen because there is for sure a lot of inspiration and will to do.

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This article has been selected into the book “Beauty Elegance Creativity – 12 Interviews on the Act of Creation” published by Roxana Florina Popa

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