You wouldn’t think a multicoloured leather driving glove would inspire a range of finely woven upholstery fabrics, but that is how the mind of debonair Swiss-Argentinian designer Alfredo Häberli works. When you start to understand the breadth of his lateral thinking – for example, the frame of his iconic 2003 ‘Take a Line For a Walk’ armchair for Moroso was inspired by an American football mask – then anything seems possible.
A glance around the organised clutter of his studio reveals a mine of inspirational items, mixed in with his own prototypes and products. ‘I collect objects because I can use and observe them,’ he says. ‘I can use the intelligence of an object for another field.I can transfer it from one sector to another.’ It is any wonder his portfolio stretches from the micro, such as cutlery and jewellery, to macro projects like the 25hours Hotel in his hometown of Zurich.
Häberli moves seamlessly between many typologies, ‘because I don’t believe everything is done’, he explains, ‘and I have many ideas, which is why I work in different fields’. Which isn’t to say he’s a flitting design butterfly who never settles. Kvadrat, the pioneering Danish fabric manufacturer favoured by creatives around the globe, is one of the leading brands with whom he’s developed a long-term working relationship. ‘Kvadrat is very loyal to us,’ he says, ‘we trust each other.I only work with people I like.’
This strong synergy between Häberli and Kvadrat CEO Anders Byriel goes back 21 years and over the course of that time, in addition to fabrics, he has also designed the Milan showroom. He is currently revisiting this interior, with the refurbishment to be unveiled during Milan Design Week.
Now launching at the IMM Cologne furniture fair is the latest iteration of this partnership. A collection of three fabrics – two for upholstery and one for curtains and all in punchy structured palettes that are trademark Häberli. ‘Nitto’ is a micromesh knitted woollen textile, with a relatively light volume, that unites two layers crafted with contrasting unicoloured yarns. ‘The dichroism of the upper and lower layer only becomes visible if you take a closer look,’ Häberli says of the design. ‘The mixing of colours is, however, subtler, thanks to the fineness of the pattern.’ Stretchy and flexible, described by Kvadrat as ‘sporty’, it’s recommended for organically shaped furniture and comes in 15 colourways, with bold hues but also gentler neutrals.
Offering a more uniform look is ‘Parkland’, a checked upholstery constructed with a simple weave from two complementary yarns: a unicoloured yarn in the weft and a mélange yarn in the warp. Available in 19 shades, the spectrum runs the gamut from natural tones of forest green to dusty greys, sky blue and coral. Kvadrat advises use in public spaces and high-traffic areas due to its excellent durability.
The third textile is the curtain ‘Airfield’ (above), a tight, elegant chequered weave of two different coloured yarns that comes in floor-to-ceiling heights. Slightly translucent, in a rich Häberli palette of 15 colourways, ranging from deep neutrals to highlights, some are more graphic than others due to variation in the two yarns.
All stand alone, obviously, but are designed to complement existing fabrics by the designer, who says of his approach to colour, ‘I am strongly guided by my feelings and always ask myself how a certain fabric could be used. Colour is the first possible decoration. Seeing and perceiving colours is a luxury.’
This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration February 2020
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