Helene Blanche (1977) is a Danish textile designer known for her playful, original fabric and wallpaper collections characterised by a Scandinavian attention to detail and longevity. By reaching into design traditions and decorative styles of the past, she is making modern textile history. Helene Blanche sources her materials and production in collaboration with a long line of independent craftspeople both locally and internationally. As an extension of her textile design, she produces elegant decor accessories such as lampshades, cushions, throws and art pieces. She is constantly increasing her awareness of styles and materials through her work with tactile and decorative materials.
Her knowledge and impeccable taste is highly sought after by architects and interior designers. Her collections are sold exclusively from a selection of hand-picked international showrooms, particularly in Copenhagen, Paris, London, Milan, Rome, Stockholm, USA. Her studio is based at the Danish interior design company Tapet-Cafe, where she is also responsible for the creative direction. Helene Blanche holds a degree in textile design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London.
The Work Process And Method
Helene Blanche’s approach to design is exploratory. Her preference is to work with charcoal, ink, and pencil when sketching. For her there are many contrasts in a combination of ink and charcoal: gravity, hardness, fragility, delicacy, porosity. From the sketch, she makes a study of how the living forms and their relationship can be balanced to achieve perfection in a composition.
Her sourcing of textiles, fabrics, cloths and soft yarns is a constant inspiration. It is important for her to have a close dialogue with her producers, to research and develop new textiles from precious yarns and materials suitable for weave, printed fabrics and wallpaper. Helene Blanche works closely with mills, traders and artisans to produce screen printed and woven textiles and wallpapers of the finest quality using her own distinctive colour palette.
Helene Blanche’s collection uses delicate fibres, such as silk from Italy, linen and cotton from Belgium, produced by skilled craftsmen and mills in Europe. All wallpapers are produced by English artisans who are continuing the craftsmanship and skills they have obtained producing beautiful wallpaper since 1838.
“I am attracted to, and instinctively fascinated by the simple: the beauty in a line, a brush stroke, or a drop of ink. My job is to compose these elements, by way of repetition, so that a pattern emerges. Then comes the colours. My working process is all about allowing the prints and patterns to unfold in a vibrant and artistic process,” says Helene Blanche.
Inspiration is drawn from a myriad of sources, both past and present. Helene Blanche enjoys working with basic, yet highly sophisticated patterns, and she feels at home in the spheres between Japanese minimalism and avant-garde joie de vivre, original craftsmanship and European Neoclassicism, Cubist art and historic Parisian textile samples. For instance; the aesthetic of paintings by artists such as Danish Wilhelm Lundstrøm and French Fernand Léger inspired her to create a series of small repetitive patterns, maintaining the same focus on contrast in colours and shapes as they did.
“The sculpture and art installations I saw while taking art and sculpture classes before I began my degree as a textile designer have filled me with fascination and joy. This introduction to art has given me time to reflect and to be curious. I can relate to the artist’s work and methods when I hand-paint and design a new pattern using the tools which I learned back then.”
Helene Blanche’s fabric and wallpaper collections are deeply rooted in their design origins. Her exploration of how a single drop of ink behaves when it meets a surface gave rise to the Drop Collection, while the study of the “perfect imperfect”, brought her to reimagine the classic stripe, resulting in the collection Painted Stripe. Her fascination with female 20th Century Danish weavers led her to investigate the relationship between a piece of hand-stitched fabric and hand-drawn dots on linen, which became the Stitch Collection. Her playful exploration of small dots on fabric yielded an observation of how a myriad of dots forms a linear stripe with a woven expression, which became the Polka Stripe collection.
The colourways across the collections, ranging from soft sorbets such as rose and lavender to assertive hues like deep honey, emerald, blue ink and charcoal, emanates a freshness yet establishes an emotional depth. Overall the patterns have a modern look with an artisanal finish, the substance of which becomes especially clear when the individual patterns are viewed and used together as a collection.
The collections offer fabric qualities especially suited for curtains, cushions and domestic upholstery; a heavy linen, medium linen, light linen, raw silk, moiré and a variety of silk and linen blends. Helene Blanche’s use of uncompromisingly sourced, high quality materials, combined with her vibrantly expressive yet understated patterns, make her work stand out by perfectly blending in.
All the Helene Blanche wallpapers are produced by British craftsmen, who are proud to celebrate the skills they have obtained to produce their beautiful wallpapers since 1838.
A mutual fascination of craftsmanship, vibrant materials and visual storytelling has, over the years, led Helene Blanche to engage in a number of successful collaborations with creative peers within the fields of fashion and design. These partnerships include: the design of bespoke textiles for Danish fashion designer Mark Kenly Domino Tan; launching The Mirari Lamp, with a mouth-blown base and hand-crafted pleated silk lampshades, together with Danish glass artist Nina Nørgaard; setting an enchanting table for the annual Royal Copenhagen Christmas Tables tradition; and designing an exclusive collection of throws and pillows for the renowned Danish furniture design house Paustian.
Helene Blanche is responsible for the creative direction of Tapet-Cafe in addition to designing the in-house textile and wallpaper collections. Tapet-Cafe, established in 1974, is a second-generation Danish interior design house specialising in bespoke printed textiles and wallpapers. The company has decorated walls and created interior design for years: From exquisite wallpaper, custom-made curtains and fine paint colours to hand-printed textile and fine upholstery. The clients include private homes as well as designer shops, restaurants, boutique hotels and design collaborations. Tapet-Cafe is purveyor to The Royal Danish Court. Today it is run by Jannik Martensen-Larsen and Helene Blanche, a husband and wife team.