Studio Simone Post: Colorful textile design for Vlisco


Author: Julia Kahl

In February we travelled to Rwanda for a special issue of Slanted Magazine to take a look at the burgeoning creative and fashion scene. The colourful fabrics from which the beautiful dresses and shirts of the Rwandans are made also caught our eye. At the market in Kigali you can see and buy hundreds of these fabrics—the textile industry is flourishing because the import of clothes from the West has been banned.

Many of the fabrics are made by a Dutch company called Vlisco, always inspired by Africa, made with an Indonesian batik technique, designed and produced in the Netherlands—a multicultural melting pot for beauty and industrial craftsmanship. Looking for an answer to the question of who designs such patterns, we came across Simone Post, a Dutch textile and product designer whose work is characterised by material experiments, intensive research and a love of colour, printing and craftsmanship. She has just published some interesting patterns for Vlisco and she gave us a few insights on how it came to that:

What is your background?

I am a textile and product designer, graduated with honors from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2015. Directly after graduating I have set up my own studio. I work primarily in cooperation with companies, brands and industries, to find ways to turn their rejected, left-over or waste materials into new products with high quality standards.

My grandma (96) has always been making her own clothes. The Vlisco (1846) factory is close from where she lives and already knows the factory since she was a little girl. When I started working there, she visit the design department, which was really special, she was so proud and got a Vlisco textiles where she made her own dress off.

How did your cooperation with Vlisco start?

I did an internship at Vlisco as a print designer. For my graduation project I started to work with the rejected misprinted textiles of Vlisco, I designed carpets made of textiles that otherwise would have been destroyed. Ever since this project I have had a very close relationship with Vlisco, we started developing the carpets, but at the same time I have always kept on designing prints for them.

The process of learning to design patterns for Vlisco is very intense and meticulous. Because of the wax printing technique there are limitations in the drawing where you should be aware of, but also once you are more aware of that you will also get to see the possibilities and you can really use the quality of the wax in your designs. I remember when doin my internship for examples the first few weeks I was only doing tests how you could color an existing print in different ways. Because the process of printing the textiles is very expensive you will try to make many color variations on 1 print and try to make them all look very different.

What kind of patterns are you interested in?

Over the past years, I have been designing several wax prints for Vlisco, the Dutch manufacturer of distinctive fabrics that are made with time-honoured methods and materials and loved by African women ever since they were introduced to the African market in 1846. Although the patterns are designed in The Netherlands, they come to life in Africa where traders and costumers name them and give them special meanings. Therefore, the designer must ensure the pattern contains enough ingredients to create a story. New designs are produced each year alongside traditional classics. Vlisco’s highly expressive and creative customers transform the fabrics into fashionable looks, which are truly one of a kind.

For me It is always very important that there’s the print triggers imagination and has a story to it. For example the one with the Kauri shells: When I was looking at traditional arts and crafts from West-Africa I often saw cowry shells being used. I found out that Cowry shells have been an ancient means of payment in many parts of the world, including West-Africa. Vlisco is also know as the Prada of Africa. If you look closely you can see that this new Vlisco print is created entirely from entangled cowry shells. With these colorful patterns, you will be wearing a fortune.      

We raffle 2 fabrics from Vlisco, Vlisco Wax Cowry Print and Vlisco Wax Tweed Design, each 5.5 m long among our readers. To participate in the raffle, write an email with the subject "Vlisco Wax" and the desired fabric until June 19, 2019, 11 am (UTC+1) to [email protected]. The winner will be drawn after the deadline and contacted by email. Whoever takes part in the raffle agrees to receive news from Slanted and accepts the data protection regulations. The legal recourse is excluded. We wish you good luck!

Vlisco Wax VLW4137 Cowry PrintCowry shells have been an ancient means of payment in many parts of the world, including West-Africa. If you look closely you can see that this new Vlisco print is created entirely from entangled cowry shells. With these colourful patterns, you will be wearing a fortune. 

Vlisco Wax VLW1191.003 TWEED DESIGNTwo different patterns intertwine to resemble a hand-loom. They compose a timeless zigzag design inspired by ‘tweed’ which is as warm as it is elegant

At Vlisco online shop you can purchase the textiles directly.

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