Hellen van Berkel
Tell us about your experience at the Design Academy Eindhoven — what did you study and how did it shape your creative eye?
Being really young for my age it was only at the end of my education that I sort of found out that I had a deep love for fabrics, pattern, quality, and color. It was inevitable because my mother used to sew all our clothes herself, and made us very aware of all these details in her fantastic skilled work. She was keen on color, pattern, details and taught me to look at things in a different way.
Before you started Heartmade Prints you worked as an accessories designer for various fashion brands - what did you take away working in these different environments?
I learned just all there is to know about the job. All about working in a team and with suppliers in various countries. I learned to develop my taste.
Your quilt-like prints contain a mixture of abstract patterns, along with animal & floral graphics with contrasting colors. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I always look for contrasts, things that tease the eye, and make you wonder. Nature, insects, leaves and all that. I use these as a source of endless organic patterns, and try to find combinations with man-made graphics and regular patterns. For color, I seek interesting ways to make one color meet the other.
Aside from visual inspiration, any music, books, or cities that have a major influence on you?
I think it is really very eclectic, the way I work, and also very impulsive and intuitive. I sort of just start with something I picked up, and from there I build my collection pattern by pattern. Where I pick up ideas can vary from the local farmers market, to walking in Paris and seeing a book cover, a piece of clothing, vintage fabric, Pinterest, or just in my own closet.
You tend to mix various methods of practice when creating your textiles i.e. hand embroidery, digital graphics — Walk us through your creative process.
I always try to look for contrast, as this I think is inspiring, and make the viewers think and pay attention. So when I feel it has to be embroidery, I use it. And when it has to be block printed, I do that. Very often I use both in the end. See it as composing a song.
Out of the different techniques you utilize, which one would you say is your favorite to work with?
I really need all the techniques to achieve what I want.
Can you tell us about your bespoke work and the collaboration process on these custom made items?
Museums ask me to make scarves for them, for instance when there is a specific exhibition of an artist. I then try to transform this into a scarf and in to a piece of cloth that one can wear without losing the respect (Rembrandt, Klimt, etc.) I have for the artist. I try not to cut into it, and most of the times I actually only try to add a layer of my own.
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