About Me

Hello, I am Merel


I am committed to leaving the world a kinder and wiser place than I found it. I help organisations and networks to be more insightful at shaping a healthy planet with happy people. For me, sustainable design can be the beginning of a journey that could unlock my client’s potential to engage in innovations that are truly benign. From understanding the context and experiencing the dynamics and tensions in the organisation, I like to grasp the complexity of that system. I express my care for that system by being a pragmatic (intangible) problem solver, curiosity-driven experimenter and in some cases a block of resistance to a change. By working with me, you will be inspired to leave the status quo behind and become more confident that what you are doing is the right thing to do.

My work is mostly tailored-made. I can’t change the world on my own and collaborate with other creative generalistic thinkers and practitioners.  I joined forces with shiftN to work on ‘wicked’ problems in organisations and networks. I am occasionally experimenting with setting up for-profit and non-profit transformations on a self-employed or pro-bono basis. I also work via the C2C Platform as Cradle to Cradle Accredited Assessor guiding companies to get their products Cradle to Cradle Certified™. With all my clients and collaborators I aim to build trusted and long-term relationship that respects everyone’s unique needs. Being discrete, respectful and unprejudiced are vital ingredients in my work.

There are some paradoxes in my style. I am soft spoken and prudently sharp. I am vague and painfully clear.  I am quiet and tireless in my idealism. I am a distant observer and deeply in touch with the heart of the matter.

I think best on my own and feel the most in a team. I work in the space that is appropriate to do the task. I need personal contact with the people within my client’s organisation to start the work, and I regularly process the input on my own at home or another quiet place. For lighter work, I work from public spaces so I can passively absorb the feelings and dynamics in society.

To me, the truth can only be experienced. Dogma is a ‘busy trap’. The truth has many nuances and emerges from a context that is in constant change. Dialogue helps to explore this. But words or pictures can be misleading. Discipline, focus and equanimity help me with long-term observation and getting closer to experiencing the truth.

I am a lifelong learner (and un-learner!). Besides a Master of Product Development and an MSc. in Innovation and Design for Sustainability, I followed multiple transformative courses at Schumacher College, and I am regularly attending summer schools, conferences, evening classes and hackathons. I am also consitently observing international developments in the areas of politics, environment, digitalisation and humanitarian issues.

In the past ten years, I had Belgium and the UK alternatingly as home bases, and to me, Brexit means losing a sibling. In my professional life, I conducted assignments for SME’s, local and regional governments, intermediaries, institutes of higher education and non-profit organisations in more than ten different countries. These experiences familiarised me with a broad spectrum of (societal) challenges in a variety of sectors and regions. On my work samples page, you can get a better overview of my work experience.

Despite my international, digital and societal outlook, you will not easily spot me on a plane, on Facebook or in a rowdy bar. I prefer a minimalistic, mindful lifestyle. I find my inspiration in the freedom and simplicity of cycling, (wild) camping, drawing, meditation, hiking, gardening, cooking and exploring life in general.

If you want to see me in action, have a look at my blog and follow me on social media. If you feel like I can help you, or you would like to collaborate with me, say hello@merelclaes.xyz or via the form on this page. We could go for a drink or organise a Skype to get to know each other.

– Merel, October 2017