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Maria van Nguyen | In Her Shoes

Maria Van Nguyen is a designer and creative director based in Oslo. Maria curates a beautiful personal blog where she talks about learning to live a more considerate, simple and better life. We sat down with her to chat about art, culture, style, travel and food.

What does style & substance mean to you? 

It’s when you dress with confidence, unaffected by what other people think. Your style is personal, effortless and a natural representation of who you are.

How did you get into design? 

I’m naturally creative in everything I do and will always implement it in other subjects and matters. Therefore I knew from an early age that I wanted to be in a design-oriented world and so I’ve always had a goal I’ve been working towards.

When do you do your best thinking?

When I’m in solitude and comfortable at home, away from all distractions. Then I sort out all my thoughts by writing them down by hand, which is much more therapeutic than writing on a laptop because I can slowly process everything.

How does travel influence you creatively or personally?

I travel as much as I can because it gives me so much joy - and perspective.
While travelling I see how beautiful our planet is, how beautiful life is, and I realise that life is simple but we ourselves make it complicated.
Creatively it influences me to be unafraid. Personally it influences me to be understanding, humble, curious, kind, to give love, to enjoy.

At ESSEN we really admire the time you take to create your personal work and how you stay true to your own aesthetic. Has this been an intentional decision throughout your career, or just something that happened as a by-product? 

Thank you! I only get into projects that I feel passionate about, therefore everything I create happens naturally with confidence and comfort with my own aesthetic and vision.

What caused the change in your buying behaviour (back in 2014)? 

After living in New York for a while and attending fashion school I learned more about the industry, and it made me question everything about it. I realised that as a designer I wanted to slow things down and inspire people to be more mindful, act in more sustainable ways and as a result; buy less and better.
I started with myself and made a set of rules, which only allowed me to buy five items per six-month period, sometimes followed by six months of a complete shopping ban. 
This makes me appreciate and take care of what I already own - and for any purchases I do they are thoughtfully considered.
As a goal I want to have a small wardrobe with quality pieces I love, so that I don’t even have to think about clothing and I can focus on other things in life that are more important to me.

Have you had mentors or anyone you’ve looked up to throughout your career?

No one specifically. I’m inspired by anyone with high ambitions who work hard to achieve their goals, all while staying true to themselves.

What’s your mantra? 

To surround myself with people I love, and to do what I love.

What’s next for you?

My goal is to launch my own brand and for the next year(s) I will be working towards that. It might take a while but I’m not in a rush because with time I’ll only be more certain of what it is I can contribute with thats also meaningful and giving.

Favourite hidden gems in New York? 

Zenkichi: Japanese in a warm and intimate setting, 
Still House: Beautiful knickknacks for your home, 
The Noguchi Museum in Queens.

    Favourite hidden gems in Oslo? 

    – Izakaya: Casual Japanese dining, 
    – Kollektedby: Interior shopping, 
    Torggata Botaniske: Get a drink in an environment full of plants,
    The Vigeland  Museum: Located next to the Vigeland park is a colourful museum with a stunning exhibition.

      All photos taken from
      You can follow Maria here and @
      Maria wears The Luxe Loafer