ILSE CRAWFORD FOR KASTHALL
Milan Design Week project: Grönska rug collection for Kasthall
Why did you decide to become a designer? I’m always fascinated by the way design materialises the imagined values we have into the texture of everyday life. I’m interested in creating environments that affect us, that make people feel good and that connect us on a human level. Specifically, what we focus on a lot in the studio and in our hospitality spaces is what happens when people come together, and how design can affect this and change the connection between them in a good way – in public and private spaces. For me, that’s independent of whether it’s a high-end environment or a social project. Many of the essential design principles are the same. What’s been driving you through your life and career? I’ve always been inspired by people who don’t accept the status quo. I suppose, in simple terms, the first people who inspired me were my parents. My father was an economist and investigative journalist, my mother was an artist. They both pushed boundaries and questioned the system. Making things better is the essence of design. What I love about the design profession is that there’ve been so many extraordinary men and women who’ve had a vision of a better world, whether through architecture or design. Those people are really inspiring.
What did you present at this year’s Milan Design Week? We have a new collection of rugs for Kasthall, which includes three woven and two tufted designs that celebrate Swedish landscapes throughout the seasons. Kasthall is located in the Swedish countryside, and there’s a visible connection between the factory and the beauty of the landscape. Throughout our projects, we’ve seen a cultural shift towards the greening of architecture and interiors. Over the past 10-20 years, references in colours have been urban: cement grey, gallery white, steel. They all took cues from the built environment. These days, we spend much of our time in front of a screen and live the majority of our lives indoors, so we crave a physical connection with nature. It was also important for us to investigate the techniques Kasthall could offer. To see what came out of these experiments. What’s amazing about this company is that they combine design and manufacturing; they have looms, they weave and they do hand-tufting, all under one roof. These techniques have very different outputs and we were able to mix them and see what effects we could create. We wanted to emulate the textures of nature and used the structure of ‘the Swedish landscape’ as a way of making sense of our research. We took five different types of Swedish landscapes (meadow, farmland, glade, furrow and vegetable patch) and then looked at those through the seasons – a sort of calendar in carpets, defining a new range of colours and materiality, which are combined in this collection.
When you work for a company, what are your ideal conditions for a successful collaboration? When we work on our projects, the most important part of a successful collaboration is the people we’re working with: you can have a great building, but if the client, the team or the contractors aren’t committed, you won’t be able to produce a great end result. Whereas you might have a not-so-impressive building, but if you have a champion and everybody involved along the way is really interested and engaged, the outcome can be amazing.