Fearless, and with a feel for paper
She’s dressed Lady Gaga and Björk, made garments from fan belts, pasta and Venetian blinds and has folded A4 sheets into Haute Papier for the catwalk. Designer Bea Szenfeld really knows how to push the envelope.
Her creations always stay close to the material, no matter what it is. She’s especially close to the Jobs sisters’ patterns, and she’s created a wearable collection of wallpapers for Boråstapeter.
Bold. That would be one way to sum up designer Bea Szenfeld. Because she takes on things that seem impossible and gets results that look like child’s play.
She stays close to the material in her handicraft no matter what her creations use. This has its roots in pottery, where she started her creative career. Later, she began experimenting with designs in other materials.
Your previous paper creations have been purely white; what’s so different about wallpaper?
“Lots. So many new things to think about. Especially since it’s rolled-up paper, which makes the work character-building. When I fold a sheet of A4, it stays put. When I fold wallpaper and then leave to make tea, well, it’s not in the same place when I come back.”
Bea tells us that her earlier paper-folding cockiness has diminished somewhat as she’s been forced to find new techniques for folding wallpaper.
“It’s all about sleight-of-hand and creating an easy feel in the final impression – not too sharp; things should appear simple once the wallpaper garment is finished.”
Switching from white to multicoloured is also demanding. The motif has to present itself in a new way, as there’s a big difference from papering a wall.
“When worn, a folded garment appears anything but flat. And the garment must be visually interesting and above all good-looking, modern and a bit avant-garde”
Another aspect for consideration is how much of the patterned side will show.
“It’s really important to show both the front and back of the wallpaper, otherwise there gets to be far too much front. The plane, glue side is just as important.
As with pattern repeats, where the spaces are as important as the motifs.” Bea tells us it takes time to discover how wallpaper behaves.
“Folding a pattern changes it, and its character shifts. Wallpapers have their own lives, their own agendas.
But paper has other advantages – it’s tougher and has an almost woollen textile feel. And I also get to choose the pattern.” When Bea found out that Gocken Jobs’ wallpaper was available at Boråstapeter, the choice was easy.
“I’ve always loved the Jobs sisters’ patterns, their range of colours, the way they arrange their patterns and, well everything.
And it’s also about the way they’ve worked over the years and blazed a trail for future craftswomen.
This isn’t just about beautiful things; it’s also a great part of women’s history. Thank God for the Jobs sisters!”
Which is precisely why Bea is eager for her results to feel respectful. It’s almost as if she did not just work with wallpapers, but in them.
“Getting so close to their patterns in my handicraft is a magical feeling. I can almost hear the colours rustle when I’m working with their wallpapers. And it’s all so beautiful with flowers against a deep black background. They seem to leap out!”
Will the garment have a name, just like the wallpapers do?
“Yes, indeed. But it will have to be a clever word that compliments the name of the wallpaper, so I can keep the Jobs sisters’ name alive in it. That would be respectful.”
“I tried making clothes from paper, and it was almost too good to be true”
Lives in: Stockholm.
Job: Designer and craftswoman.
Right now: Represented in an exhibition about the Nobel Banquet’s creations at the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm.
Text: Anna Zethraeus-Falkirk
Photo: Joel Rhodin
Makeup: Kristina Kullenberg
Bea used the following wallpapers for her creations:
Beauty lies in the details. In the wallpaper pattern’s elegant brushstrokes, exact fractals and soft colour combinations. It also lies the ballerina’s pointed toe, curved back and lithe muscles. Together they make wallpaperinas.
Hats off to Malinda Damgaard
Malinda Damgaard is the Swedish fashionist and millinear whose hats adorns international celebrities and royalty. She has got free hands to create in a brand new material: wallpaper