Daniel Henry: the art of material, the material of art

04.07.2016 - Dries Tack

Daniel Henry is a textile designer. His unique creations are exported all over the world from his workshop in Tournai. This is where, for every season, the designer’s small team dream up and produce materials that bring life to the collections of the greatest international fashion and decor houses.

Daniel Henry's Portrait

Daniel Henry, your work is known and recognised all over the world. What is your personal view of the profession of textile designer?
Daniel Henry: My studio is above all a space for creation; we are creators of textiles. The studio’s speciality is silk-screen printing and embellishment, which totally alters the appearance of the cloth by giving it original textures. We transform textiles by working on the different aspects of their appearance – transparency, shine, etc. What we love is the material, the texture a textile can take on after working on it.

Whether for fashion or decor, luxury brands from all over the world go to your collections to find their raw materials. How does one achieve this level of excellence?
It’s a matter of know-how and innovation. I never compromise in my work. In the studio, we are constantly creating exclusive textiles that can make all the difference on the catwalk, for example. During my final years as a student at La Cambre, I was lucky enough to work for the CELC (European Flax and Hemp Confederation) in Paris, which meant that I was able to apply the reality of the market to my artistic approach straight away. I also benefitted from a scholarship from the Fondation Belge de la Vocation in 2002. The following year, the studio won an award from Boost Up / Creative Industries for perfecting the “printed finish” technique. Thanks to these promotions and my presence at various specialist international trade fairs, things moved on naturally by word of mouth. Nowadays, almost all our products fly straight out to other countries, not just in Europe, but the United States, Russia, Asia, etc.

“printed finish” technique

What aspect of your work do you enjoy most?
D. H. : That’s a difficult question… I would say it’s the whole creative process. I love every aspect of my work, from the concept to the technical design that will bring it to life. In textile, the possibilities are endless. I am constantly looking for new materials, new effects, and the right manufacturing processes. This means artistic work, hands-on research in the workshop, and technical studies for the mechanised manufacturing process project, with a view to large-scale production.

What distinguishes you from your competitors?
D. H. : We have perfected unique embellishment techniques which combine the technical “vocabulary” of textiles - colour and pattern - with innovative processes such as 3D printing, chemical shrinking, special openwork techniques, the creation of articulated textiles, etc. It is the combination of these techniques that changes the hold of the cloth in a way that is totally exclusive to us, on an international level. The studio is also characterised by our advanced research into the processes of industrialisation of our know-how. Industrialisation frees up our studio from production work so that we can concentrate on creation and offer our clients new textiles.

Atelier Daniel Henry

So the cloth is produced elsewhere?
D. H. : Yes and no. Needless to say, we produce all the prototypes and limited editions in Tournai. The rest of the collections are made by specialist workshops, mainly in the Cambrai area, the Lyons region, and Northern Italy. We also provide artistic management for several European textile firms. In both cases, we develop the industrial production of the collections. Our "recipes” are sometimes adapted in line with the technical capabilities of the factory, but more often traditional printing machines are adapted to obtain a result meeting our criteria.

Insert “Lessons to be learned”:
Being a specialist: professional artistic creation has no room for “more or less”.
Don’t limit creativity to existing technical possibilities; creativity is also expressed by inventing manufacturing processes.
Go for word of mouth: show your work, take part in trade fairs, respond to calls for ideas, and find out about the possibilities of assistance from public bodies.

“printed finish” technique

© Lucie Leroux & Daniel Henry Studio

more information on danielhenry.eu





Le Cerf Vert Dinant