“Go crazy, please.” That was the simple directive that Zara Atelj gave to the exhibition design team at the Helmond Museum, host of “Vlisco 1:1 Un à Un”, a celebration of the textile company’s 170-year history. And crazy they did, if 'crazy' means a visual feast of kaleidoscopic colors and prints.
Atelj is the creative director of Vlisco, the Dutch-based company that since 1846 has been creating one-of-a-kind fabrics that epitomise African culture and identity. Sold primarily on the African market, Vlisco’s cotton fabrics, printed on both sides, are produced using a special wax dying process. But it is the vibrancy of the colors and patterns that unsurprisingly captured the attention of the museum’s visitors, adorning floors, walls and pillars as well as dressing the exhibition’s mannequins.
Citing color as an “obsession”, the company not only works with traditional African hues such as indigo, which have significant cultural significance, but develops its own unique colors and combinations each season to create contemporary and dynamic prints.
Originally inspired by Indonesian design, Vlisco’s fabrics have a history that can be traced back over 400 years to when the Dutch discovered local fabric decoration and batik techniques in Java. Using these as inspiration, they started creating their own bigger and brighter designs, which subsequently gained popularity in West and Central Africa where they continue to be part of the culture and fashion landscape today.
Photos from "Vlisco 1:1 Un à Un" at the Helmond Museum / Credit: coolhunter.com