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”We take colours very seriously, it is not unusual for us to have more than 1000 colours to choose from just for one collection,” says Stine Find Osther, Vice President of Design at world-leading Kvadrat. They’re now launching their sixth collab collection with Raf Simons and are constantly pushing the aesthetics, artistic and technological boundaries of textile design with the lowest possible impact on the environment.
Working with textile is double-sided, on one side you have the look and feel, the other side is extremely technical – to be able to take the best possible decisions in the process it is important to have the highest level of knowledge around the product.
— We create high-quality products that help architects to shape architectural spaces, designers and furniture manufacturer to produce and craft furniture, and consumers to bring tactility and colour into their private homes. We ensure that we are visionary by constantly exploring and challenging the capabilities of textiles and developing products that have equal emphasis on aesthetic appearance, technology, content and market potential, says Find Osther, who joined Kvadrat in 2007 after graduating with a Master in Textile Design from Kolding Designskole in Denmark.
Their Product Development team is a mix of textile engineers and textiles designers, where the former are constantly sourcing for new materials and techniques.
— We are not working with trend material, as it is usually understood. Instead, we’re working with around 25 external designers with very different background and we see them as our trend material as they are coming to us with their unique view of the world. Some do not know anything about textiles while others are textile geeks, meant in a positive way. Combining working together with young talents and world-famous designers is allowing us to bring a unique energy to our collection. The diversity our group of external designers are bringing to us is of major importance for us and the collection.
How do you work with sustainability?
— Our sourcing and researching includes seeking new and better material that is more sustainable, but also putting a lot of our resources and research towards investigating how to re-use or minimize our waste, says Find Osther.
— I believe in ”micro-innovation”, where we are trying to improve a little in all the steps in the process to achieve something that is better than what we did last time and this mentality is applied to how we work with sustainability in product development. By constantly micro-innovate throughout our process and constantly improve, it will generate to bigger changes over time. In our approach to business, we focus on integrating sustainability in the business strategy through unique design and service, the best quality standards, social-, economical- and environmental responsible concerns. Having signed the UN Global Compact in 2013, we have committed us to support the United Nations’ ten principles regarding human rights, labour rights, environment, and anti-corruption.
The latest launch is a great example. Scrap_CMYK is a curtain collection created by the Japanese graphic designer Rikako Nagashima for Kvadrat’s residential collection Kinnasand Lab. It comprises four designs and a plain base fabric made out of 100% recycled polyester. And, not to mention, the recent collab with designer Margrethe Odgaard with 3 curtains and 2 upholsteries (Re-wool and Atlas).
— What’s very special with Margrethe and her designs is that she has developed a language around colour, while many people have opinions on colour, it’s a rarity to have a descriptive language around it, says Find Osther. She is brave in her colour combinations, which gives independent and curious results. On the other side, she also has a deep understanding for being commercial. If you look at her textile Atlas, you will find unexpected combinations of colours, and when you see these combinations they look extremely beautiful and are at the same time easy to use for the customers. For example, Re-wool which is made out of 45% recycled is extremely hard to recolour and Margrethe was specifically chosen for that project as she has wide range and understanding of colours.
Kvadrat have tripled their turnover in the last 10 years, with a recent 20% growth in 2018. And for many, they’re most well-known for the cooperation with Raf Simons.
— Our CEO Anders Byriel first approached Raf because he used our fabrics in his Jil Sander collections. The Kvadrat/Raf Simons collection is interesting in that it brings a lot of energy to the rest of our collection. The textile’s design are working more to the boarder of edgy and contemporary design, opening up the possibility of working without so many rules as we do with other Kvadrat collections. What’s special with the collection is that every time we add new textiles to the existing collection, the whole collection breathes new life and makes you see the full collection with a new perspective/lenses.
At this year’s Milan Design Week, four new textiles in the sixth collection were presented in an irreverent conceptual installation.
— They are called Atom, Phlox and Novus 1 and 2, says Find Osther. Atom is a vibrant and experimental bouclé fabric with no visible repeat. It is inspired by fragments of pointillist landscapes in expressionist paintings. Novus 1 and 2 are two sophisticated variations of a jacquard-woven bouclé textile. With references to furniture designer Jean Royère’s Tour Eiffel series, Simons created a fading grid design that seems to melt into the textiles’ textured background. Phlox is an interpretation of the classic corduroy fabric. This large-scale ribbed fabric brings a more graphic and three-dimensional character to this year’s collection. Ranging from intense flower-like hues such as striking reds, greens, and blues, the textile’s colour scheme evokes memories of the 1970s which, combined with Phlox’s tactile, large-scale ribs, provides a contemporary twist. The diamond grid pattern of Novus 1 and Novus 2 is re-imagined as garden fencing in distinctly non-suburban colours. The thick cording of Phlox is echoed in the wooden slats of transport palettes on which it appears as cushions in an ad hoc seating arrangement.
What else is coming for you?
— Heavily investigating new material and handling of already existing material. One of the projects in the coming fall is the launch of a very nice collection with Alfredo Häberli.KvadratRaf SimonsRikako NagashimaStine Find Osther.