Speaking of Style

Vere Van Gool

It’s been two-and-a-half years since Vere moved to New York from London, after leaving her hometown of Amsterdam to study abroad. The Dutch curator and director at the New Museum’s Ideas City gives us a glimpse of her life in the Big Apple. 

Words by Siska Lyssens
Photography by Emma Macdonald
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'When I first moved to New York, I was rather sceptical about the social dynamics of such a fast-paced, work-oriented city where appearances at times count for more than knowledge or interest, says Vere about her first impressions of the metropolitan city. But 'meeting brilliant people, peers, friends for life, has really been the big surprise.' 

It’s true that such academic circles are not exactly known for the most open, easy-going attitudes, but in Vere’s case, it seems to be the right balance. 'I sleep less, I read more, I exercise less, I party more?' she replies rhetorically, before turning back to the more serious side of life in America at the moment.  

'It's a crazy time to live in the U.S. under the current president', she continues, 'which has made me doubt reality very, if not too, often. George Orwell’s 1984 has become real, a nuclear war is well underway, and not dissimilar to the Matrix or 2001: a Space Oddysey, technology is taking control of our lives. Living in the U.S., a culture at the forefront of invention and change, kind of shaped me to accept the bizarre reality of today as rather normal', she muses.  

Vere was always drawn to art, thanks in part to her family. 'Both my grandfathers were artists, and I spent most of my childhood painting, if not continuously redesigning my parents' house and reorganising their art', she says. But the drive to create art was not really present when she got older. 'I quit art school feeling very disappointed, but wrote my favourite artist at the time - Tjebbe Beekman – who during a studio visit in Berlin encouraged me to pursue art whilst at architecture school, and architecture while at art school. I guess that has kind of become my motto.' 
And so Vere went from London’s Central Saint Martins art school to start architecture studies at the renowned Architectural Association in the same city – a school that counts famous names such as Zaha Hadid as its alumni.    

'I never imagined myself to even have a career and at times still, don’t', says Vere, surprisingly. 'Growing up simultaneously to the rise of EasyJet, I spent a lot of my high-school years visiting museums and buildings throughout Europe. This inspired me to move abroad, learn from a different culture, and study in a more intellectual climate than what I imagined Amsterdam to be.' 

In New York, Vere started at the New Museum, where she is associate director of IdeasCity, a collaborative platform that focuses on the future vitality of cities and urban reconstruction.  Karen Wong, the program’s deputy director, was a hugely important figure in Vere’s work progression. 

'I guess I look for mentors who inspire me to make the impossible happen and to work hard to get there, but also try to have fun whilst doing so', Vere asserts. 'I’ve gotten true mentorship, woman to woman, by the brilliant Karen Wong, deputy director of the New Museum and my go-to for advice.' She continues: 'The team at the New Museum with Joseph Grima, the director of the program, has been such a great learning curve. Aside from that, the work we do at IdeasCity involves a lot of young, hungry artists, designers, and activists which is super exciting.'
And so Vere went from London’s Central Saint Martins art school to start architecture studies at the renowned Architectural Association in the same city – a school that counts famous names such as Zaha Hadid as its alumni.    

'I never imagined myself to even have a career and at times still, don’t', says Vere, surprisingly. 'Growing up simultaneously to the rise of EasyJet, I spent a lot of my high-school years visiting museums and buildings throughout Europe. This inspired me to move abroad, learn from a different culture, and study in a more intellectual climate than what I imagined Amsterdam to be.' 

In New York, Vere started at the New Museum, where she is associate director of IdeasCity, a collaborative platform that focuses on the future vitality of cities and urban reconstruction.  Karen Wong, the program’s deputy director, was a hugely important figure in Vere’s work progression. 

'I guess I look for mentors who inspire me to make the impossible happen and to work hard to get there, but also try to have fun whilst doing so', Vere asserts. 'I’ve gotten true mentorship, woman to woman, by the brilliant Karen Wong, deputy director of the New Museum and my go-to for advice.' She continues: 'The team at the New Museum with Joseph Grima, the director of the program, has been such a great learning curve. Aside from that, the work we do at IdeasCity involves a lot of young, hungry artists, designers, and activists which is super exciting.'
Switched-on and with a definitive taste when it comes to fashion, Vere knows where to shop for which pieces. 'Jacquemus for jackets, Acne for jeans, PRISCAVera for tops', she enumerates. 'And I’m obsessed with the old Prada lycra collection. Everything else ranges from vintage to smaller brands carried by Opening Ceremony – oh, and I love orange clothes!'

When out and about, Vere loves Lella Alimentari, 'this Italian lunch cafe, that I call my second living room and where I leave my keys (and occasionally friends) when I’m out of town.' She continues: 'Mirth is this brilliant vintage shop in Greenpoint and Bed-Stuy with such a great collection and its founder Lauren has the best style. Elizabeth Street Garden is an amazing sculptural garden in SoHo where I read during lunch breaks. One of my favourite galleries to visit is Gavin Brown Enterprise in Harlem, and of course the New Museum.
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