Vlisco: The Beauty of ‘Leftover’ Materials

Since 1846, Dutch textile brand Vlisco has created colourful wax printed fabrics popular in Central and West Africa. Because of Vlisco’s high quality standards, there is always a certain amount of their fabric that is rejected, largely because the complex techniques used to create their wax fabrics often result in misprints. To date, Vlisco has not found a good destination for this beautiful, yet imperfect fabric. However, after extensive research, young designer Simone Post has found a way to give new life to these exceptional leftovers by designing a series of very unique interior products.

Using folding and laser cutting techniques, she creates patterned cloth panels to divide and accentuate spaces. Other ‘misprints’ are wound into circular rugs. With endless possible colour combinations, an original product is created every time. In this way, what was waste gains becomes an item of value.

Simone Post developed this material concept during an internship with Vlisco. She explains: “When I did my design internship at Vlisco in 2014 I noticed this problem. Vlisco management explained they unfortunately had to reject and destroy the cloth, because otherwise there would be the risk that these rejects would end up being sold and this could destroy their own market. Somehow I just could not accept that destroying all this cloth was the only solution and I was determined to do something with this exceptional waste material. After researching the issue, I first presented my design plans to the creative director Roger Gerards who gave me the chance to start the research and ultimately Vlisco became convinced of the attractive alternatives.”

In the Vlisco printing process, many layers of patterns are printed and added on top of each other. Post started using laser cuttings to add new layers of patterns, but rather than applying a print pattern, the pattern is actually cut out of the cloth. This way, the misprint disappears to the background and an exciting stratification appears in the textiles. By first folding the textiles, before laser-cutting them, big surfaces can be treated with a limited amount of laser work.

The big rolls of textiles standing in the factory were also a big inspiration for Post as on the side of these rolls, a beautiful colour gradient is visible. By folding the misprints and winding them in circles, the colours jump out and a beautiful colour circle arises.

Post’s products were first presented to audiences during the Dutch Design Week 2015 and will now be developed together with Label/Breed to produce them industrially and on a bigger scale.

About Simone Post:

Simone Post just graduated cum laude from the Dutch Design Academy in Eindhoven. Over the past couple of years she has already received nominations for several prestigious design awards and nominations including ‘The Art of Fashion”, by museum Boijmans van Beuningen and a stool designed by her was taken into production by HEMA. She has also designed several waxprints for Vlisco.