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Kvadrat’s Knit! exhibition is a tapestry of talent

The results of the Danish textile firm’s challenge to designers are bold, beautiful and often bonkers

paula sakr 'sundays' tableware for kvadrat
Luke Evans

Rainbow loveseats, white ceramics with textile surfaces, a multicoloured tent and a chair you can wear – these are just some of the diverse creations by designers selected to participate in ‘Knit!’, the fourth iteration of Kvadrat’s biennial design project.

This initiative sees a roster of global talent, as chosen by an expert panel, tasked with utilising fabrics produced by the Danish textile pioneer to create an object. These are then exhibited in a group show; latterly ‘My Canvas’ at the London Design Festival in 2017.

'shed' knitted tent by julie richoz
’Shed’ knitted tent by Julie Richoz
'Shed' knitted tent by Julie Richoz

‘Knit!’ explores the potential of Febrik knitted textiles – a Dutch brand Kvadrat bought a majority stake in two years ago. It was initially due to take over Garage 21 during this year’s Salone, the industrial space that hosted last year’s hit ‘No Man’s Land’, Raf Simons’ ‘dystopian neighbourhood’ installation for Kvadrat. One can only imagine how entertaining it would have looked hosting these wild and wonderful works by 28 designers and studios.

Coronavirus won’t stop this ‘celebration of creativity’, though, says Njusja de Gier, Kvadrat’s senior vice president of marketing and the driving force behind the project. ‘Knit!’ has now launched as a digital exhibition, showcasing every design in Kvadrat's airy Ebeltoft HQ, and at Copenhagen’s ‘3 Days of Design’ in early September, which will be followed by a global tour.

We looked for designers with more of a craft-oriented and experimental approach

'dressed up' by marie sloth rousing
’Dressed Up’ by Marie Sloth Rousing
Luke Evans

The criteria for participating designers was specific: ‘We didn’t want to ask the usual names,’ says de Gier. ‘We looked for creatives working outside of furniture design, such as fashion and ceramics, with more of a craft-orientated and experimental approach and, of course, a good sense of colour.’

Selected contributors had around four months to complete their object. Some of the exhibition entries are conceptual, and more like art pieces, such as Danish fashion designer Marie Sloth Rousing’s slouchy ‘New Wearable’. ‘I was investigating the boundary lines between clothing, object and body,’ she explains. ‘This mix between a shirt and a cover for a chair has the ability to dress a body, a chair or maybe even both.’

adam goodrum 'conversations' rainbow loveseat
Adam Goodrum's rainbow loveseat for his Conversation Series
Luke Evans

Others are both decorative and functional. Australian multi-disciplinary designer Adam Goodrum took inspiration from ‘the way Kvadrat Febrik’s colourbooks are displayed as fans’. The resulting chromatic modular ‘Conversation Series’ pays homage to Victorian loveseats and can be paired up or joined to form a snaking seating spectrum. These now seem oddly prescient in a Covid-19 world.

And Beirut-based designer Paola Sakr’s pure white ‘Sundays’ vessels are extremely covetable. Created from fabric moulds into which she pours the clay and then removes prior to firing, they showcase both Febrik textures and an important part of her culture. Displayed on a royal blue velvet dining table created specifically for the exhibition, Sakr says ‘they replicate the traditional tableware typically found on Lebanese mezze tables’.

As for the afterlife of the collection, the designers retain ownership of their creations, so something more eternal may spring from this ephemeral tapestry of talent. kvadrat.dk

This article appeared in ELLE Decoration August 2020 issue

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