Home textiles, shawls and artworks
Karolien van Mensvoort (’65) studied at the academy of visual arts in Arnhem, the later famous ArtEZ, fashion design department. She then designed designs for manufacturers of interior and fashion textiles, wallpaper and gift packaging. She worked for respected fashion labels such as Oilily, Artelux, Esprit, O’Neill, Stills, Turnover and the Nigerian label Jewel by Lisa. After working for over 25 years as a fashion designer, print designer, technical draughtsman and illustrator, Van Mensvoort now focuses entirely on creating her own collection of home textiles, shawls and artworks. She works intuitively. Her work breathes personality, warmth and style. Van Mensvoort works from her studio home in Arnhem.
Van Mensvoort alternates handwork with digital work. She can spend hours on the computer working on designs, but then wants to work by hand again. Not only handwork and digital work are combined, also hand-woven and knitted and industrial woven and knitted are alternated and brought together. Sometimes she does this together with craftsmen from the Dutch Textile Museum in Tilburg. It arises from within, from the need that certain phases and situations in my life evoke. Everything is done by trial and error. From my existing work, from everything that is around me, new work emerges.
Van Mensvoort starts with home textiles as a counterpart to all the computer work she was doing as a designer. I wanted to feel again, to create something with my hands. Van Mensvoort knits and weaves woollen wall hangings, plaids and cushions. She spins different coloured yarns, spins them and dyes them herself. The process of creating textiles guides her; by working intuitively she gets into a flow of ideas, which leads her to take – unplanned – successive steps. A rich stratification arises. Degradation occurs frequently in her work. I am always looking for a dissonance that makes the work more interesting’.
When designing her silk scarves, Van Mensvoort concentrates on structures and rhythms. A large digital archive of prints, which she has built up since 1990, is used for this. She works in layers by placing prints on top of each other, characterised by subtle colour transitions. Van Mensvoort does not want to go along with the speed of the fashion industry. Her work is not determined by seasons or trends; something beautiful and desirable remains in the collection. Nor does she focus on a specific age, culture or gender.
Parallel to the development of her textiles and shawls, Van Mensvoort remains faithful to making artworks, rooted in her fashion past. She illustrates on the computer and fills her drawings with elements from her rich archive of digital prints. Her style is graphic, tough and elegant. Tension in her designs is created by adding unexpected irregularities. All her work has that distinct handmade feeling. Van Mensvoort likes to draw portraits and animals in their typical poses, but also landscapes as pure compositions of colours and structures.
Since she returned to the basics of her profession and decided to do what really makes her happy, designer Karolien van Mensvoort creates free work that makes the world a little more beautiful: home textiles, shawls and artworks. These are three different disciplines that clearly have something in common: her love for textiles.
In November and December 2021 Karolien will exhibit her work in ‘the Zocher Lounge’ in Bloemendaal.