HELMOND – Museum Helmond in the south of the Netherlands celebrates the 170th birthday of iconic fabric design brand Vlisco by revisiting its rich history and looking towards the future. Running until 12 March, the exhibition Vlisco 1:1 Un à Un is an ode to the bold, vibrant designs and signature Vlisco printing technique that has become synonymous with African prints.
Founded in 1846 by Pieter Fentener van Vlissingen, Vlisco merges Dutch and African art and design to produce objects and fabrics. Un à Un takes the visitor on a journey from the drawing board to the factory to the marketplace, and shows the rich collaborations between Vlisco and contemporary African designers. The exhibition also marks the new direction of Vlisco under creative director Zara Atelj.
The exhibition opens with a monochromatic white installation with film projections of the Vlisco factories in Helmond, by Daniel de Bruin. Opposite this installation sits Vlisco designer Teun van den Wittenboer’s animation which shows the production process to highlight the artistry of the final products.
The exhibition also features the designs of five African fashion designers who created signature pieces for the exhibition, and the women who sell Vlisco fabrics on the market in Africa, called the Nana Benz, are honoured in a film installation.
However, the most eye-catching part of the exhibition is not anything on display, but the exhibition design. Studio Harm Rensink covered the floors, walls and pillars with ‘skins’ of designs by former Vlisco designer Michiel Schuurman – who also created a custom design for the exhibition – to create the feeling of stepping into walking through the history of Vlisco.