Montis x Schoenenkwartier
During the last century, Montis settled in the municipality of Dongen, at the heart of Brabant’s leather and shoe industry. Its partnership with the newly relocated Schoenenkwartier (Shoe Quarter) in Waalwijk offers new and interesting opportunities. That is why we are joining forces. Together, we are stronger, with our shared roots in the artisanal past of the Langstraat and confidence in a sustainable future.
In 2022, the new Schoenenkwartier successfully opened its doors to the public in Waalwijk, a city that was once the cradle of the Dutch shoe industry. Formerly known as The Dutch Leather and Shoe Museum, the museum has recently changed its name and relocated. Schoenenkwartier has taken up residence on Raadhuisplein, in the renovated west wing of the monumental Kropholler building from the 1930s. Amsterdam-based firm Civic Urban Architects transformed the old courtyard garden into a covered atrium full of light.
Previously, the emphasis of the museum was on its interesting collection of some twelve thousand shoes and the international history of shoemaking. Schoenenkwartier still highlights the history of the leather and shoe industry, but by authentically and creatively connecting „heart and hands“ to the future of footwear, the museum now also functions as an inspiring platform, workshop, education centre and laboratory. With its unique collection of twenty thousand objects, Schoenenkwartier connects the craft of shoemaking to the current world of orthopaedics, fashion and industrial product design. What can we learn from the past? And how can we connect that heritage with modern design, technological innovations and contemporary themes such as sustainability and circular production? Schoenenkwartier is not only about watching and learning, but also about experiencing, participating and creating awareness.
Innovation and experimentation
Montis was established in 1974 in the Langstraat as well, at the heart of Brabant’s leather industry. Rooted in the traditional craftsmanship of the region, our focus has always been on the future. At Montis, innovative technologies and new materials lead the way. Innovation, creativity and experimentation are also high on the agenda at the revamped Schoenenkwartier. Its three thousand square meters are meant to house a living museum with a knowledge centre and makers lab. Visitors and designers are invited to experiment with shapes and materials during their visit.
The dots in the familiar Montis logo symbolize a similar pursuit for form and meaning. Each of our designs starts with a single dot in empty space – the first stroke of a design that meets a strong need. But it’s also the first stroke of a furniture piece that expresses your identity and how you want to live. In similar fashion, your shoes tell the world who you are. Schoenenkwartier tells the story behind every shoe. Where did it come from, how was it made? And how can we produce boots or sneakers while respecting our planet and its resources? Similarly, Montis is delving into pressing themes such as sustainability and circularity. How do we optimize the production process, (re)use materials as efficiently as possible and extend the lifespan of a sofa or chair? Montis and Schoenenkwartier share the same ‘Brabander’ artisanal roots, and a keen eye for shapes and the meaning of design. But it’s also our shared search for innovation and sustainability that makes us natural partners.
Inspiring steps for the future
The first steps in this collaboration prove to be as inspiring as they are promising. Residual leather from Montis pieces gets a second life at Schoenenkwartier, where the materials are used for workshops. The monumental architecture of the Kropholler building in conjunction with the contemporary renovations, transformations and extensions carried out by the architects of Civic build a bridge between then and now. This makes Schoenenkwartier the ideal backdrop for Montis photo shoots, with open spaces uniquely suited to the various Montis pieces. Fortunately, this is a happy marriage on both sides. Schoenenkwartier’s fixed meeting room “het Bodehuisje” is decked out in furniture pieces from the Montis catalogue for a reason! Montis and Schoenenkwartier have proven to be stronger together. Both share solid roots in their traditional past, yet are confidently looking to the future and the challenges in sustainability that await us.