Bangkok Post - Masks to make you proud

Masks to make you proud

When you have to put them on your face, it's so much better if they come from someone with a design and fashion background

Fuanglada Verdillon and the 'Jardin Botanique' exhibition. Photos: Varuth Hirunyatheb

Not everyone can do what they love for a living, but textile designer and watercolourist Fuanglada Verdillon can make a living from her passion for watercolour, art, fashion and textile together. Founder of JanFive Studio, she has created fine art on textile products such as masks, purses and bow knots inspired by traditional Asian, Arabic and European art as well as her interests in reading and travelling.

"It's not easy to do what I love for a living, and it is more difficult to make customers like what I love and buy them," said Fuanglada.

Recognised by a signature blue and white design on scarf and bag, Janfive is outstanding for meticulous printed processes which maintain the feeling of watercolour paintings on each product.

"Many people thought I painted on each design, but I don't. If I painted with watercolour, products can't be used like this. I studied textile and fashion design and knew about printing techniques, so the colours aren't too light or too strong. Despite having clear lines, the patterns of my designs have the feeling of movement."

Fuanglada's original first-edition paintings and prints on silk and canvas can be seen at her solo exhibition, "Jardin Botanique", which is now available online. The exhibition is created from her five sources of inspiration: the charm of Ming pottery; the colours of Tunisia; the energy of Sicilia; the deep blue of the Andaman Sea; and the memory of tropical rainforests.

"Jardin Botanique means botanic garden in French. I decided to work on the botanic garden theme after reading a lot of books and seeing pictures of wallpaper and illustrations of flowers. The more I read about flower symbolism, the more I found it intriguing and fun. While tulips embody perfect love, peonies symbolise romance and prosperity," the designer explained.

"Each collection has its timeline. The selling of peony patterns rose during Chinese New Year because its meaning is about prosperity. I'd already designed a pattern from the lily of the valley, but this rare flower will bloom in May, so the pattern hasn't been printed [on products] yet. We have to wait for the right time."

Aside from her original paintings and prints, her portraits are another highlight of the exhibition.

"Three paintings of a woman represent myself. I barely draw humans and animals. For animals, I prefer to draw birds and tigers. I felt intense painting myself because drawing a portrait isn't my strength. I decided to paint my back view in Mademoiselle because I took a look at my photos in Instagram and found I didn't turn my face up to see anyone. I always focused on my work," said Fuanglada.

Travelling is one of her sources of inspiration. Lemon and Portuguese tiles were some muses that had an impact on her.

"Five year ago, I was in Sicilia, Italy, where I was impressed with their classical culture and Byzantine mosaic art. I later released a lemon collection. The painting Persian Motifs was inspired by Portuguese tiles, while Azulejas Original was motivated by a pattern of Tunisian tiles."

Fuanglada. V self portraitFuanglada.V self portrait

Some paintings came up unintentionally. The idea of the picture View From My Window came when she tried to stay away from work.

"I drew View From My Window to reduce the stress of working. I went to beaches often and liked to have a sea view room, so I could see the beach from a window. I also like circles, so I used that shape in many paintings."

Due to her interest in textiles, when she was in other countries for vacation, she visited textile museums and enthusiastically looked at fabrics.

"Last year, I was at a textile museum, Musée des Tissus et des Arts Décoratifs, in Lyon, France, which has been celebrated for silk manufacturing and trade for centuries. I saw behind the scenes the weaving technique and process of Jacquard. It is an original technique of weaving which creates patterns on silk. It was a great experience to see this great and complicated creation," the designer said.

"Many countries have a variety of fabrics because they have various seasons. In France, there are many brands that manufacture home textiles. Their fabrics for home textiles are of great quality and made with unusual techniques we aren't familiar with. For instance, velvet is weaved to mix with fancy patterns."

Bag, scarf and bowknot are popular items at JanFive Studio. Yet, during the coronavirus outbreak, Fuanglada decided to use a fabric she had planned to design for clutch bags for giveaway masks. The designer offered 12 patterns for 1,000 masks and received overwhelming responses until the giveaway items were gone. Here is a message on JanFive Studio and her personal Facebook page:

"Due to medical mask shortages for medical and healthcare staff, I would like to ask everyone to use cloth masks, so medical masks are enough for hospitals. JanFive masks feature three layers and can flip to use both sides, but you must clean the mask before using them. The brand planned to give away 1,000 masks. After that, some proceeds of the selling of masks will go to other helping projects."

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