It all started with a daybed. When the Harvard Graduate School of Design asked designer Jonathan Olivares to create a piece for Philip Johnson’s 1942 Thesis House in 2015, he teamed up with Danish textile brand Kvadrat to produce a daybed for the Cambridge, Massachusetts space. Inspired by New England mast makers, the daybed laid the groundwork for the duo’s latest collaboration: Twill Weave, which makes its debut at Salone del Mobile in Milan.

Available to the public and the trade, Twill Weave reimagines the daybed’s original textile — a wool-nylon twill weave that mimics the effect of carbon fibre, a key material for mast makers — in an expanded palette. ‘I wanted to create a group of colours that came from the earth’s crust,’ Olivares explains.

Twill Weave is a wool-nylon textile that mimics the effect of carbon fibre

He conducted his research at the Harvard Art Museums’ Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, studying, photographing, and eventually using its collection of naturally occurring pigments as inspiration.

‘The collection was largely put together by the Fogg Museums’ second director Edward Waldo Forbes,’ says Narayan Khandekar, director of the centre. ‘We use our pigments for research, so when Jonathan said he wanted to use them for textiles, I knew it was something Forbes would’ve never expected.’

Olivares narrowed down approximately 2,500 pigments to 19 hues, ranging from azurite, to Indian lac, to gypsum rosette. ‘These colours stand for less human intervention and more specificity in the quality of colours we can demand,’ he adds.

Twill Weave marks Kvadrat’s first textile with an American designers, but CEO Anders Byriel insists Olivares brings a lot more to the table than international relations. ‘It doesn’t matter where he’s from, but what he brings,’ he says. ‘Jonathan is someone who’s interpreting the world and has a sense of where things are going,’ he explains. ‘He’ll be one of the designers who defines his generation.’