Young designers get creative with a Kvadrat classic

Young designers get creative with a Kvadrat classic

Identifying a design classic is a largely subjective business. There are, however, a few criteria that most of us could agree on - longevity, innovation and quality are the non-negotiables of an icon. By these standards, the woven textile Hallingdal, designed by Nanna Ditzel in 1965, certainly has classic status.

Ditzel is perhaps best known for her ’Trinidad’ and ’Egg’ chairs. A rare woman in the design industry at that time (even in her more equality-minded homeland of Denmark), she worked alongside Arne Jacobsen, Børge Mogensen, Hans Wegner and Verner Panton. Her distinctive tweedy wool, produced by Danish manufacturer Kvadrat since 1968, continues to be the upholstery of choice for public and domestic spaces (the Koncerthuset in Copenhagen and MoMA in New York being two examples), as well as being favoured by furniture makers across the globe, from Fritz Hansen to Moroso. Over four million metres of the fabric have been sold since its launch.

But even iconic designs can benefit from the occasional injection of colour. This year, the fabric is being relaunched as Hallingdal 65, in 58 colours, including 22 new shades that were in Ditzel’s original colour samples. To celebrate, it will be the focal point of an exhibition, ’Hallingdal 65’, opening in Milan during the Salone del Mobile. Kvadrat has invited seven curators from around the world to nominate their pick of emerging and established design talents in their region, then asked them to create a new piece using the fabric. The curators make a formidable list.

Representing the UK is Tord Boontje, while Jeffrey Bernett looks after the US. The rest of the world is covered by Ilse Crawford (Benelux), Søren Rose and Sara Vinther Martinsen (Scandinavia), Constance Rubini (Southern Europe), Hans Maier-Aichen (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), and Andre Fu (Asia), and a total of 32 designers made the final cut.

Objects featured in the exhibition include a chair by Todd Bracher, and a screen by Stephen Burks, both selected by US curator Jeffrey Bernett, as well as an ottoman by Singapore studio Ministry of Design, selected by Asia curator Andre Fu.

While the colour palette provided inspiration for many - such as Studio Glithero’s dip-dyed sofa and Fredrikson Stallard’s showstopping cerulean blue coffee table, other designers took their lead from the comforting, stress-absorbing qualities of the textile, building tent-inspired structures (Katrin Greiling), playhouses (Mermelada), and even shoes (Henrik Tjaerby). A particular favourite is sure to be Ionna Vautrin’s animals series - giant cushions in the form of a whale, a toucan and a panda.

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