Ornamental Patterns | Amsterdam School Mohair Velvets

Ornamental Patterns | Amsterdam School Mohair Velvets

25 March 2017 till 4 March 2018

Velvet-like carpets on the table, behind the coat rack, on the mantelshelf or on the divan: this kind of interior decoration is not very common to us today. During the 20s and 30s of the previous century, they were very popular. The so-called mohair velvets, also known as velours d’Utrecht, were often used in Amsterdam School interiors. Allegedly, the fabric finds its origins in Utrecht in the 17th century. The exhibition ‘Ornamental Patterns’ shows a wide variety of Amsterdam School mohair velvets, curtain fabrics, wall coverings and upholstery fabrics, all from the TextielMuseum collection. Apart from this extensive overview, the exhibition focuses on the special cooperation with artists from ca. 1917 until 1935, on the history of the factories Schellens & Marto, Léo Schellens and the Hengelosche Trijpweverij and it illuminates the different decorating techniques. A unique mohair velvet cylinder, with a design by Theo Nieuwenhuis, a wooden print block, with a pattern by Chris Lebeau and a rich selection of pattern drawings are on show.

Mohair velvet, not so common nowadays, is a pile fabric – just like plush and velvet – that has a surface of upright mohair yarns (from the Angora goat). Although mohair velvet weaving goes way back in time, in the Netherlands in the 19th century these weaves were mainly produced by the factory Schellens & Marto that started reviving mohair velvet in 1887. Other mills, like the Hengelosche Trijpweverij and Léo Schellens, in Eindhoven, followed. The rather old-fashioned image of the fabric was refreshed by modern designs in the style of the Art Nouveau and Amsterdam School by Dutch designers, like Theo Nieuwenhuis, Chris Lebeau, (C.A.) Lion Cachet and Jaap Gidding.

The expressive and colourful Amsterdam School patterns were not only attractive to professional interior designers, but were also very appealing to the general public. This can be attributed to the silk-like glow of the fabric, its flexibility and its rich colour palette. Mohair velvet was known for its indestructible quality and therefore used in passenger ships interiors, theatres and railway carriages.

In the framework of the exhibition, a documented publication (published by TextielMuseum, authors Emma Järvenpää, Caroline Boot) is realised. The exhibition and the publication are made possible with support from the Stichting Vrienden van het TextielMuseum en Léo Schellens bv (a Vescom group company).