Designer Watch: The SCENERY label

Amsterdam handmade fashion and home accessories label SCENERY is “not for the faint-hearted” but for those who are dynamic, bold and not afraid to stand out. A brainchild of print designer Bethany Oladipo, the SCENERY label is inspired by craft and culture from the tropics, and Africa’s bold colours…think African greens and cobalt blues as a base of strong hues. Bethany works with genuine wax fabric and vintage printed textiles .

Each necktie, bow belt, pillow or man doll comes with a story and is handmade and designed to last forever. Here are some items from the SCENERY label collection. The bow belts and neckties are my favourites pieces. Check out SCENERY’s quirky and bold pieces at http://www.scenerylabel.com/ and order yours at ETSY: http://www.etsy.com/shop/SCENERYLABEL. Pictures are supplied.

Ball cushions

Ball cushions

man cushion

man cushion

print cushion

print cushion

felt cushions

felt cushions

collar

collar

bow necklace

bow necklace

necktie

necktie

bow belt

bow belt

bow belt modelled

bow belt modelled

 Bethany Oladipo

SCENERY Founder and Designer Bethany Oladipo

I asked Bethany 10 questions about her work and what makes her tick. Here is what she had to say.

1: How would you describe yourself? A curious, creative person who always looks on the bright side of life.

2: What was decisive for you to become a designer? I don’t actually remember making a conscious decision to become a designer, to be honest I’ve just gradually evolved into one… picking up skills along the way in my career, that now enable me to design a product and its decoration from start to finish.

My parents have always been very involved in theater, both performance and set design. Growing up, it was quite normal for us to be surrounded by bizarre props and costumes in our home. Watching my mum create giant flamingos out of old fabric scraps and wire, showed me that it’s possible to create a replica of anything when you apply a bit of patience and a lot of imagination. This has no doubt influenced my pathway to eventually creating 3-dimensional objects.

I also remember being very impressed by a signed photograph of fashion designer, Zandra Rhodes that I acquired back then too. Seeing this woman, with rhinestones stuck to her face as well as her dress and crazy skunk like hair really impressed me. Her style was so bold and unique, she’d created much more than just a collection of garments… she’d invented a total look, an attitude.

3: What motivates you to get up in the morning? I’m absolutely terrible in the mornings, because I never get to bed early. So first and foremost, a cup of tea!!

My days are really busy right now, because I have two children to look after and I work as a freelance fashion print designer. I have to be motivated to get up and get on with the day, otherwise I’d never be able to schedule time in for SCENERY! I’m really passionate about the label, which definitely helps to drive me.

4:What would you do today if you wouldn´t have become a designer ?Difficult to say, I dabbled with lots of things before deciding to study art and design. 

I took dancing lessons, played musical instruments, learned languagesall of which I enjoyed but didn’t excel at to be honest! I’m naturally a very maternal person, so I reckon I may have gone into nursing of some sort.

5:What are your sources of inspiration? Art and crafts, mainly from the past. I do occasionally get excited by modern stuff, but it tends to be work by self taught artists, often categorized under Outsider Art and Folk Art. I like there to be little imperfections in artworks and a feeling that the creator of a piece was uninhibited creatively.

SCENERY’s debut collection was greatly inspired by Africa. The appliqued and embroidered faces on the cushion and doll for instance, were derived from imagery I’d seen in the flags of the Fante, Ghana. The decision to use lots of black and white patterning in the theme, was inspired by the incredible photographs of Seydou Keita, the self taught Malian photographer. The elements of tailoring, I added because I’m absolutely fascinated by the dress code of the Sapeurs.

I also looked at the beautiful work of the Gees Bend quilters, a Black American community, and the 1980’s graffiti scene in New York, everyone connected to Patti Astor and the Fun Gallery.

6: Who is your favourite designer at the moment and why?  My tumblr blog shows you just how many people are inspiring me right now! I’m constantly looking at the work of a lots of artists and designers: http://scenerylabel.tumblr.com/

Focusing on what’s current, I’m slightly obsessed with Vivianne Sassen’s photographs, both her fashion editorial stuff and the work from her time spent in Africa. Her sense of colour is amazing and I love the contrast in her photos, the way she cleverly plays with the light and shade on her subjects. Regarding fashion design, I tend to be drawn to the bolder more print driven labels, I love the cartoon colours and graphics in the new Jeremy Scott collection, really like Peter Jensen’s resort collection and think the look-book pictures are fantastic!! (http://chasseurmagazine.com/2013/09/27/peter-jensen-2014-resort-collection/)

I like elements in the Celine collection, the painterly prints that hint at Memphis Design and the heavy tribal-esque jewellery. Must say I would buy virtually everything by Stella Jean, if I could!

7: How do you select the materials you use? My husband Tomi Oladipodesigns wax batik fabrics for Vlisco, which is one of the reasons we moved from London to Amsterdam.

Vlisco have been printing dress making fabrics for the African market for over 100 years. Their fabrics are incredible, they’re super vibrant and the imagery is often really daring and playful. I felt compelled to use it somehow in my product designs, not just because it’s a way to showcase Tomi’s designs, but because it’s such a happy medium!

I’m very choosy about the prints I shortlist for SCENERY… they have to work with both my colour scheme and my theme.

Vlisco never produce tremendous amounts of a design in a particular colour-way, so as long as I continue to work with their batiks, my products will be in limited supply.

I enjoy using vintage prints too. There’s really something so satisfying about getting hold of the last remnants of a really nice fabric… I suppose knowing that you have a sort of exclusivity on it.  Aside from the printed textiles, I use 100% wool, cotton and leather, really good quality stuff so my products look sharp and then age gracefully over time.

8: Describe the “Scenery Label” customer? I’ve been quite surprised by the audience that’s into SCENERY. There doesn’t appear to be one specific sort of customer.There’s people of all ages and cultural backgrounds buying my things.

9: Where do you want your label to go in the next three years? For the time being I plan to stay focused on objects for the home, and accessories to wear. Within these areas, I’m already expanding the range of products that I offer though. Collection 2, which will be launched very soon, includes smaller gift items such as purses, and necklaces. I’m adding classic neckties for men, and mix and match printed table linen sets, so that people can have a cross-section of the entire fabric collection in their home, in just one purchase!

I would love to introduce my own print designs at some stage, seems crazy not to incorporate this skill that I have. There’s a chance that I’ll move to a different continent for inspiration, although Africa is so rich for reference, I may just stay there for the next three years!

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