Raf Simons is certainly not your typical fashion designer. With a background in industrial design, a keen collector of 20th century furniture and ceramics, and a creative range that straddles haute couture for Christian Dior and his eponymous menswear line, Simons comes well-furnished to enter into a new interior textile partnership with Danish company Kvadrat, launching tonight in London - and featured in our March issue (W*180), with an exclusive interview by Alice Rawsthorn.
The idea for the tactile pairing first came to light when Simons was researching his A/W 2011 collection for Jil Sander. At the time the designer found his usual suppliers at a loss for the heavier weight fabrics, more reminiscent of upholstery textiles that he was seeking. 'I fell in love with those fabrics: the quality, the density, the colouration,' Simons recalls of his first Kvadrat encounter. 'At some point Kvadrat contacted me through Peter Saville, who I've known since way back and who works for them as an art director. We talked about the idea of my doing a kind of capsule collection. Bingo! I loved the idea.'
Flash forward to Simons' most recent menswear collection, shown last month in Paris, where the fashion world got a preview of his upcoming Kvadrat partnership. The A/W 2014 show, for which the designer collaborated with friend/American artist Sterling Ruby, featured a collaged coterie of overcoats - some showcasing striped patches of 70-plus variations of his flecked Kvadrat textiles.
The official unveiling of this first Kvadrat/Raf Simons collection will include both upholstery fabrics - which the designer describes as 'blank canvases' - and a select few finished products, from luxurious wool and cashmere 'Tronic' throws, to glossy mohair 'Pixie' blankets in saturated hues of royal blue, rich garden green and rose pink.
'The big question for me when designing for Kvadrat is: "Will I want to live with this for the next ten years?"' says Simons. 'People think more deeply about the things they live with in their homes. We want ours to last, so we didn't go wild, wild, wild. And we didn't want them to be too disconnected from what Kvadrat does already.'
Read our full interview with Raf Simons by Alice Rawsthorn in our March issue (W* 180), on sale now