Kvadrat’s top textiles from rugs to upholstery fabrics are born from micro innovation and the diversity of their designers. Founded in 1968, the Danish company finds inspiration in design and contemporary art.
TAKE ANY DESIGN SOFA or chair, and the chance is high that it has been upholstered with a Kvadrat textile such as Steelcut Trio or Hallingdal. Kvadrat is a Danish design company producing high-quality textiles. Founded in 1968, it has frequently collaborated with designers and artists, and it is known for its inspiring color ranges.
Stine Find Osther has worked at Kvadrat’s product development for over ten years. Today, she is the Vice President of Design at Kvadrat, and oversees the general design directions of the company’s collections and connected brands. We talked with her about the magic and power of textiles.
You are a textile designer by your first education. What is it in textiles that you love?
“I never doubted that I would work in the creative field. Since I was very young, I focused on my creativity, but before I entered Designskolen Kolding, I did not know exactly in which direction I was going. That’s where I fell in love with textiles. They are something everyone encounters but many take for granted. Textiles are very important and powerful tools not so many are aware of – they can change the feeling of an environment. It is the same thing with interiors as it is with clothes: whether you are wearing a polyester dress or a cashmere dress, it immediately changes the feeling you have.
For me, there are two sides of working with textiles. On one hand, you have the look and feel, but on the other hand, it is an extremely technical field. This fascinates me. What I also love are the different dimensions of a textile. Seen from far away you get one expression, but then you dive into it, and get lost in the small details.”
Kvadrat just turned 50. What is the key factor behind the long history and success of the company?
“We are always aiming for the best quality both in performance and design. We are constantly hunting for the best possible solution, and do not want to compromise on these parameters.
At Kvadrat, we are not exclusively designing by ourselves; we are always working in teams consisting of external designers, suppliers and internal staff from Kvadrat’s Product Development team. I believe that innovation, which is so essential to Kvadrat’s DNA, happens through the dialogue between different disciplines.
“The diversity of the designers helsp us push the boundaries of textile design.”
We work with around 25 external designers coming from very different backgrounds. Some are young and unknown talents, some world famous, some textile designers and positively “geeks” on textile design, some don’t know anything about textiles. This diversity is extremely important for us as it helps us pushing the boundaries for what is possible within textile design.”
What is the role of colors in Kvadrat’s products?
“I have always been deeply fascinated by colors – by their meaning and significance in a material. It is a very important tool for all textiles developed by Kvadrat.
When we work with color, we can have one hundred yellows before we choose one. The external designers bring a lot of value to this process; if it were not for them, we would not have the diversity in our collection as we have today. We want to our products to inspire – our customers want to see unexpected color ranges from us.”
What kind of work does Kvadrat do to push for new innovative products?
“The internal team consists of textile designers and textile engineers. The latter constantly run research projects. We continuously strive to make our processes cleverer and environmentally friendly. I like to call it micro innovation – we aim to do it a little better every time. It takes around two years to design a textile, but we do not have a limit on how long it can take. If we believe in an idea, we work with it until we succeed.”
Kvadrat is actively involved in contemporary art and design. Why?
“Contemporary art is one of the building bricks of Kvadrat’s DNA. Being involved in art projects fuels our imagination. It takes our textiles to places we could not have dreamed of. The boundary between art and design is exciting and important to keep an eye on. Sometimes an art project can end up in our collection, which normally has a very commercial focus – this inspires me a lot.”
“Contemporary art is one of the building bricks of Kvadrat's DNA.”
What is your favorite product and color?
“This is a difficult question to answer – I find important and inspiring things in all our products. Remix has a special place in my heart; it was the first textile I held in my hands when I started working for Kvadrat back in 2007. Choosing a favorite color is also tricky. I constantly change my mind. The way you sense a color depends so much on the surroundings, where it is applied – whether your look at it from a distance or have it in your hand. There is magic between textiles and color.”
Kvadrat has a new, wide rug collection. What is the story behind it?
“I dream about launching collections across all product categories, from curtains to upholstery and rugs designed by the same designer. This way we can provide customers with the same story or element translated into different products.”
Can you give us a tip or trick on how to use fabrics as part of an interior?
“Textiles are as important for the home as clothes are for the body. Adding tactility to a room can dramatically change its atmosphere. A soft pink curtain, a bright colored rug, or a nice mélange sofa will transform the look and feel of a space. We often blend different shades such as bright bold colors with soft transparent ones and plain colors with mélanges. This variety keeps the viewer curious – and happy.”
• Kvadrat is a Danish design company producing high-quality textiles and textile-related products for architects, designers and private customers.
• The company was founded by Poul Byriel and Erling Rasmussen in 1968 in Ebeltoft, Denmark. They worked closely with designers such as Nanna Ditzel and Finn Juhl and created a portfolio of furniture textiles.
• Kvadrat frequently collaborates with international artists and designers on exhibitions, projects, installations and individual art and design works.
• Today, the company is present in 25 countries. Kvadrat’s brands include Kvadrat Soft Cells, Kvadrat/Raf Simons, Kinnasand, Febrik and Sahco.
Text: Taina Ahtela Images: Kvadrat, Riikka Kantinkoski and I Do Art Agency