Every new linen design tells a personal story
To create these pure, authentic products, the family business from Kortrijk combines 60 years of craftsmanship with a strong urge for innovation. The third generation specialises in made-toorder linen, and in the meantime Michelin-starred chefs, presidents, royals, artists and designers have found their way to Verilin.
If you have eaten at one of this country’s Michelin-starred restaurants, you may have touched a Verilin product without knowing it. From its workshop in Kortrijk, Verilin makes table, bed and curtain linen to order for chefs such as Peter Goossens and Pascal Devalkeneer, as well as for other upand-coming young kitchen talents. “The fact that discerning professionals with an eye for detail, quality and perfection come to us is a real honour. When I took over officially in 2014, with my sister and my husband, I began prospecting this market actively,” says Ilse Dedeken. “Now the chefs actually come to us.”
The foundations of the present-day Verilin were laid by Laurianne Vercruysse: mother of Ilse and Anne-Sophie. She inherited the business from her father Etienne in the 1980s. “Our grandfather set up Verilin in 1956 - when the region’s flax industry was at its height - and began by producing various qualities of basic white table fabrics. Following in the footsteps of designers like Marc Geysen, Verilin brought out seasonal collections of table and bed linen twice a year. It also developed a network of dealers. Then, when the textile sector was hit by a series of crises, we decided to concentrate on high-quality table, bed and interior linens. By keeping production in Belgium, we are adding a new chapter to that story.”
Over the last three years, Verilin has specialised in made-toorder products. “Every new product begins with a blank sheet of paper. The material, quality, colour and finish tell a story; the story the customer wants to tell. This means that every design is personal and part of a unique ritual,” Dedeken tells us. “The need for a creative solution to every project demands enormous flexibility from everyone in the company. But that’s the very thing that makes them so proud of their work. Some of our 13 workers have been with us for over 40 years; they know the material, and techniques, like the backs of their hands. So they like to think along actively with us, and they come up with some very inventive solutions. Sometimes, they lie awake at night thinking about it,” says Dedeken with a smile. “If it wasn’t for their passion and their eye for detail, we just wouldn’t be able to produce the quality we do.”
Another of Verilin’s strengths is its full, in-house production. “We weave, cut, hem, embroider and manually finish the fabrics in our own workshops. The only external step is pre-processing (editor’s note: softening and prewashing). It takes persistence and patience to get everything done in Belgium, but it does allow us to meet every demand with flexibility. It’s our greatest strength, and it gives us a unique position in the global market for luxurious home linen. Sometimes we say with a smile that we really can do big things with our little team,” says a beaming Dedeken. “What’s more, we don’t just make linen. We find our customers suitable laundries, for example, or we iron large tablecloths for them. At that level too, we make a difference for them.”
Weaving damask 2.0
Verilin bases its production on two fundamentals: the rich, traditional savoir-faire it has acquired over the last 60 years, and its constant pursuit of innovation. “We are proud of our roots and see it as our responsibility to keep the region’s old traditions alive. This is why we like to use Belgian linen, if we can find the right, finely spun raw materials, or old techniques such as damask. We can breathe new life into the process, thanks to our Jacquard machines. It may be this combination of pure, authentic handwork with creative, high-tech innovation that makes our products so strong,” says Dedeken.
To push its own boundaries, Verilin likes to work with artists, designers and young chefs on the one hand, as well as universities and colleges on the other. “Design duo Sofie Lachaert and Luc d’Hanis put our expertise to the test for their Get Rich While You Sleep collection. Depicting the abstract bank notes on the fabric was a technical feat, which we were only able to achieve with the Jacquard machines. It’s one of the main reasons for the design’s receipt of a Henry Van de Velde Label in 2014,” Dedeken tells us. “Our most recent award was Tableskin by Lore Langendries. She is a jewellery designer who makes wearable objects from animal skins. One of the few things for which we do not use those hairy animal hides is as a tablecloth material, as this mostly calls up unsavoury associations. With this design she wanted to break through the taboo by turning an animal hide into a textile. In the end we managed to convert pixels from a graphic file, which was based on a photo, into a collection of table and bed linen, in which the soft hairs appear against a white background.”
Verilin calls technical accomplishments like this ‘Damastweven 2.0’. “We can use our Jacquard machines to weave photos, and - unlike digital prints - they lie deep in the textile’s structure. The machine weaves 12,000 threads at once and gives an extremely detailed result. It allows us to weave the most complex of patterns. These machines were also used to produce Wim Opbrouck’s Table Spirits collection, in which the 11 depicted heads can be seen only from a certain angle, and preferably by candlelight, when the picture as it were comes to life,” says Dedeken.
Verilin has earned an excellent reputation over the last 60 years and the work keeps coming in. “At present we are commercialising the Insomnia bedding for the young designers Charlotte Jonckheer and Nel Verbeke, as well as our first project for Pure C. And, for this project, we brought Michaël Verheyden into contact with Sergio Herman,” says Dedeken. “We are also getting ever more international requests. For example, we provided table linen for the princess of Libya’s wedding and for the American Embassy. And we have provided house linen for a president’s private jet, and several royal weddings. Although in such cases we often do not know who the ultimate customer is.”
The jury on Verilin:
Verilin produces luxury collections of table, bed and home linen.
To create these pure, authentic products, the family business from Kortrijk combines 60 years of craftsmanship with a strong urge for innovation. Verilin is also a 100% local, Belgian story. The third generation, Ilse and Anne-Sophie Dedeken, have gone on to specialise in made-to-order products, and they receive regular orders from Michelin-starred chefs, artists and designers. These cooperation partnerships often generate more new ideas for innovation.
The jury was won over by Verilin’s significant investments in ground breaking, innovative research. The new looms have opened up new possibilities, giving them a unique position in the market.