Text by Annemiek van Grondel
Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann
Rooms dressed like models? It sounds strange and impractical, yet this was what textile designer Roos Soetekouw (1984) had in mind when she was given the opportunity to decorate several rooms in the new Hotel The Exchange, in the heart of Amsterdam in 2010, just after graduating from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. She created eight interiors, each with a completely different atmosphere, from the Eighties Room and New Rembrandt Room to Room of Misunderstood Creatures. Soetekouw: ‘A dream job with no restrictions, I could do whatever I wanted. The owners selected me because of my graduation project, which consisted of an emotion-based clothing collection with references to various eras: a sort of time capsule, dropped in a cabinet of curiosities.’
There were only two small requests: please take the housekeepers into consideration and make certain things fireproof. Right, but also theft-proof? Soetekouw: ‘Amazingly enough, except for one curtain hanger, nothing from the interior has disappeared into a suitcase, yet.’ Check! A beautiful environment compels respect.
Soetekouw focuses on interior design projects. ‘Fashion is fleeting: too many collections per year. A chair has a greater chance of survival.’
At fairs her Skinn and Fringe collections are sold well. Soetekouw’s style is colourful and detailed, with a hint of nostalgia, and she does not shun experimentation. ‘Mixing materials is the best thing there is. In fashion and the textile industry everything must now be as simple and basic as possible. I’m trying to prove otherwise, for instance by manipulating materials. How does a polyester yarn react when woven together with mohair, for example?’
One may call into question the production and coloration of synthetic materials, but the process of making wool and silk also has an environmental impact. ‘By making use of both natural and synthetic materials I am trying to explore the boundaries of this versatile and difficult discussion’, explains Soetekouw, whose graduation project was about the pros and cons of dyeing textiles with plants.
On show at Ventura Lambrate: the Skinn Collection (throws and tapestry as algae) and the Funghi! Collection (placemats, towels and a runner). Curious about the possibility of making dyes out of these materials, the designer studied bio-based materials intensively. ‘I want to show people that beauty lies in everything. People might not be inclined to eat mold, but exposed it is so beautiful! I definitely want to experiment more in this area. Someday, I am going to create really useful textiles out of fungus.’
More information about the presentation of Roos Soetekouw during the Milan Design Week 2016: www.dutchdesignpressdesk.nl/roos-soetekouw-mdw16