By Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin’s count, more than half of the holiday gifts that exchange hands each year end up in the trash. Their research into the holiday-gifting market led them to studies from Stanford University, the Nikela organization, and other eco-minded charities and sites with data that could make your head spin—the total value of wasted product, according to some, is in the billions of dollars. Whether or not that number is accurate, the sentiment certainly stands true: Each holiday we receive plenty of stuff that we don’t need. Not only is it financially wasteful, but it has hazardous implications for the environment.
“We often get a letter or a Christmas card from a friend or from a company that says [we made a donation] in your name. You put that card away and that’s it,” says van Lamsweerde. “We thought, How can we make this more meaningful? How can we have it make a more lasting effect for the person that’s receiving that notice? And also how can we encourage charitable gifts to happen more often because there is something exciting attached to it?” The couple’s answer was, of course, in art.
On December 14, the photographers will officially launch Double Dutch, a cash-giving app. The idea came to the photographers more than a year ago, but the pandemic accelerated Double Dutch’s progress from idle thought into reality. The premise is simple: Upon launch, users will be able to donate to charities like Knot on my Planet, Every Mother Counts, Parley for the Oceans, and the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund directly on the platform and make those donations in a friend’s name. Each donation will be accompanied by a $2 card, of which $1 goes to Double Dutch and $1 goes to the artist who designed the card. Users will be able to save the cards on their virtual wall in the app and share them across social media.
Incentivizing participation is the list of creatives on board, which reads like a rundown of the art world’s most influential people. Sterling Ruby, William Wegman, Urs Fischer, Marilyn Minter, Maurizio Cattelan, and Es Devlin are just some of those offering work on the platform alongside more unexpected and emerging names like Gigi Hadid, Langley Fox, and Tyson Johnson. “We have access to all these incredible artists because we’re offering a digital version of the brilliant work that these people are making, and it makes it much, much more attainable,” says van Lamsweerde, noting that being able to include younger talents was just as important to the duo as collaborating with their friends and peers. “Gigi Hadid, she reached out and said, ‘How can I help? What can I do?’ She made two exclusive cards for us, and the same with Sterling Ruby, with André Saraiva, and there are more and more people who have reached out to us asking what we need.” Even better, many of the established artists participating will be donating the profits from the sale of their virtual works to Double Dutch’s charities.
The goal is that Double Dutch can offer a virtual way to collect art while giving back. In this, it’s sort of an extension of the many mutual-aid print sales that have taken place throughout 2020. “We have been a part of a few of those print sales, which I think are brilliant, over this whole COVID period,” says Matadin, “but for us, it’s really about zero waste.”
“That is what has been a kind of revelation in this time of COVID: that we’re all realizing we don’t need that much,” van Lamsweerde says. “We actually need to eat and need to stay healthy and warm—all the other stuff is really extra. It has also brought to our attention how many people are in need and don’t have those basic needs met, as well as how many incredible organizations there are that are helping on every different level. Being able to help without creating more waste is a very, very big deal for us.”
Van Lamsweerde and Matadin are launching the app with Laura Bailyn, the founder of Kidfund, and powering it with Adyen, a global payment method, with design by KesselsKramer. The idea is that beyond 2020, Double Dutch can launch person-to-person transactions alongside charitable donations, meaning you could potentially send a friend $25 for a dinner alongside a Cindy Sherman artwork.
“We’re hoping it becomes a medium for giving for any occasion, for any reason, even if it’s just to say ‘I love you’ or ‘I miss you, and in your name, I’ve donated $5 to Parlay for the Oceans,’” van Lamsweerde says. “It can be a gift of $2 or a gift of $50; it doesn’t matter. It’s purely about communicating how much you love each other, or that you’re thinking of each other, and that there is this incredible organization that is benefiting from your love.”
Contact The Ravestijn Gallery for more information