Herman van Nieuwenhuizen
Claartje van Bree and father Leen
VLAARDINGEN – Claartje van Bree would have stood before the criminal court to prosecute. But after completing her law studies at Erasmus University, she chose the social side of the law, and at Juridisch Loket in The Hague, she supports citizens who are sometimes in danger of being crushed by governments and regulations. For almost 5 years, however, she has also been part of the family business Bree’s New World in Vlaardingen on Saturdays. Father Leen van Bree is still at the helm there.
Bree’s New World is a modern design company and manufacturer of designer furniture, mainly produced in the Netherlands. You can find inspiration in the showroom with the most beautiful designs and models of furniture, from cupboards to chairs, but sales take place through dealers and the catalogs of large furniture chains. However, there is one exception: if the annual warehouse and showroom clearance takes place and it is off December 27 .
“It’s a very busy time, and it’s now ‘all hands on deck’ for the whole family,” says Claartje van Bree. “For my father, my brothers and also for my mother, who still works in education as a teacher. In addition, we have indispensable support from all employees who work tirelessly. All creative jack-of-all-trades who support the company fantastically and go the extra mile where necessary. “It’s nice to see how everyone is even willing to shorten their Christmas days for the sake of Bree’s New World.”
The customers’ cars will then be parked all over the street, here on Kotterstraat and beyond. We are there together and as a team we form a close-knit group where everyone has their own qualities. I myself love interior design and sales, so each employee has their own input. My brothers have been busy with their role in the family business for longer than I have, still dividing my time and attention between ‘here in Vlaardingen’ and my role as a lawyer”. Claartje’s contribution is already visible in the Bree’s New World brochures; “I thought I might as well sit in a chair myself for the picture instead of hiring a model,” she laughs. ,,And in that vision I brought my father along”.
It remains to be seen what will become of Claartje, a lawyer or the family business, but at home they will discuss their ideas about the business and a possible time frame. “My father and mother will and will gradually distance themselves. In addition to the ‘romance’ of such a family business, there is of course the business side and you want it to continue successfully. In any case, for me it has now become more than the showroom on Saturday and I also participate in large furniture fairs, for example, such as soon in Eindhoven”.
Bree’s New World is being rejuvenated with daughter Claartje and sons Arij and Jaap, but is this also happening with the collection and assortment? “There are timeless models that have done really well for a long time and still do,” says Claartje. We work with various permanent designers and also see young new designers presenting their ideas. Before an idea turns into a design, and a design turns into a piece of furniture, it takes some time. Test, the right materials, test again and most importantly: a chair simply has to sit comfortably longer”. So no furniture that will sink within a year, but quality. And the production of it also takes place in the Netherlands, so long delivery times due to logistical problems from, for example, China are usually not there. In the meantime, work is being done behind the scenes on new models, including a table and a chair.
”The demand for quality and sustainability is in any case as great as ever,” continues Claartje. “For example, we have the Kiq chair, which pretty much tops the list of most successful designs at Bree’s New World.” However, some seemingly disappeared designs sometimes reappear in the range after a hiatus. And sometimes there is a special story attached to it. When Claartje herself left her parents’ home, she bought a sideboard on legs, which she could not find ‘at home’. Father Leen remembered that a comparable piece of furniture had actually belonged to the family company’s collection (owned by his grandfather Ouwenbroek) and it was put back into production. Successfully, and anyone entering the showroom will find another copy of it. “We have a lot, and we are also constantly replenishing what is sold from the warehouses in Vlaardingen,” says Claartje. So you won’t easily miss the pure Vlaardingen company that once started making furniture out of wood from barrels originally intended for herring. The history of the family business can still be felt when you step inside Kotterstraat 8, but Bree’s New World has also kept up with the times, and Claartje and her brothers add new energy to the family business.
You can view the furniture from Bree’s New World from December 27th to December 31st and from January 2nd to January 4th and take it directly to this annual showroom and factory clearance. “With this, we create space again on Kotterweg, in the showroom and warehouses. This concerns, for example, chairs that are subsequently made in the ‘wrong colour’; fabric has been ordered, or cupboards with a small scratch on them. But you can’t see that when you put it up against the wall. In addition to the designs of Bree’s New World, furniture from the renowned Banzbord brand is also available. So come and have a look”, Claartje concludes.