The decoration of a listed Danish modernist villa with Helene Blanche fabrics and patterns sublimely illustrates how harmonious architecture, natural materials, refined colours, and intricate patterns enhance our physical surroundings, and thereby the quality of our lives.
Scandinavian societal values and design philosophy
Denmark and its neighbouring Scandinavian countries are often voted amongst the happiest countries in the world. Their welfare states, homogeneous populations, equality, safety, and environmentally conscious ways are all values that help ensure a good quality of life amongst the Scandinavians.
The Danish tradition for architecture, design and craftsmanship are also born out of these societal values. Danish architects and designers traditionally designed for the masses, for the ‘simple man’ and his family, with an ambition to create simple, yet solid foundations for the good life. So Scandinavian architecture and design avoids excess ornamentation and decoration, focusses on functionality by applying honest constructions, and uses natural materials that patinate beautifully and are repairable, all at a fair price-point. It is from these principles that the Scandinavian design aesthetic was derived.
Helene Blanche, exploring how to improve the quality of our lives through fabrics, patterns, and colours
With her Norwegian and Swedish family roots and a Danish upbringing, this Scandinavian design philosophy and aesthetic runs in textile designer Helene Blanche’s blood. Educated within textiles and knit, the focal point of Helene Blanche’s work are fabrics, textiles, yarns, and fibres.
“Textiles nourish our senses and enhance the aesthetic quality of our physical surroundings. I am passionate about exploring how the tactile nature of fabrics, fibres, and yarns affect us positively, and nurture our emotions and our senses.” Helene Blanche.
Beyond exploring how textures, tactility, design, and physical spaces interact, Helene also adds extra layers in the form of colourful printed patterns. She is fascinated by how we absorb and connect with colour and printed patterns emotionally - how the presence of beauty and materials such as fabrics and wallpapers in our homes affects us on a fundamental and human level. Helene believes that patterns can nourish our senses and feelings, uplift us and our creativity, and positively impact the beholder.
"I am interested in how tactility and colours affect us in our lives, how patterns define who we are, and create ambiance. Colours and patterns are extra layers of a story. They tell stories about lives, tendencies and our time, and patterns define the atmosphere of a space and the emotions of those inhabiting the space. "
The architectural icon
In a recent project Helene Blanche’s fabrics were commissioned to adorn a Danish architectural icon. The result is an exemplary illustration of how harmonious fabric, pattern and colour compositions can not only enhance architecture, but also help enrich the physical qualities of our built environment and ultimately our homes and everyday lives.
Designed by the renowned Danish architect Erik Christian Sørensen in 1955 for him and his family, this listed villa is situated north of Copenhagen. It encompasses the family’s private living spaces as well as the architect's professional drawing and design studio.
The villa is a mid-century modernist icon and a significant historical contribution to Denmark’s architecture and building heritage. With its honest construction, made of visible wooden beams placed in a repeat rhythm, massive window panels and natural slate floor, the villa clearly represents the Scandinavian design principles introduced earlier.
The house is nestled in a beautiful garden, and the outside blends effortlessly with life within its walls. Nature and sunlight are welcomed into the house through the large window panels and the open floor plan. Erik Christian Sørensen deliberately used fabric curtains to underpin the life in the villa. Drapery frames the view of the green garden. They are also a tool to welcome the blue Scandinavian light inside, diffuse it gently, and allow the lively interplay of shadows on the slate floors. During the darker months, the curtains act as shelter from the cold and dark Scandinavian nights for life within and help cocoon family members inside.
The original fabrics chosen by Erik Christian Sørensen needed to be replaced due to wear and tear, and Helene Blanche designs were selected for the assignment. The Stitch design by Helene Blanche adorns the drawing room. Its pure and crisp quality with a subtle symmetric rhythmic pattern, beautifully enhances the modernist architecture of the villa.
In the parts of the villa, where the private life of the family took place, the expressive Ikat design was chosen. A warm, earthy ochre colour was preferred, to reinforce the more intimate and informal setting of the everyday life of the family. Both designs serve to enhance the architectural lines of the villa, rather than overpower. The patterns are not disturbing, but simply subtle, understated and refined.
"I am instinctively drawn to simplicity: the beauty in a line, brush stroke, or drop of ink. My entire work process involves allowing my prints and patterns to unfold in a vibrant and artistic way." Helene Blanche.
Helene’s patient and balanced take on patterns embodies an elevated Scandinavian composition of subtle vibrancy and timelessness. Complex processes have led to the stunning rhythmical simplicity that are in most of Helene Blanche patterns.
The designs selected for curtains are crafted in linen, made of natural fibres. Linen has a pure expression and refined texture, and when used for curtains, has a sculptural appearance that drapes with both stillness and movement. The light texture of printed linen gracefully welcomes in the Scandinavian light.
Helene Blanche Fabrics & Wallpapers was established in 2008 and is owned and run by husband-and-wife team Textile designer Helene Blanche and Interior decorator Jannik Martensen-Larsen. The Copenhagen based brand has grown organically, and is also now represented in exclusive showrooms internationally, including Paris, New York, London, Stockholm, Milan, Rome, and Los Angeles.