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11 Ways To Make Magic From A 50-Year-Old Fabric

Danish textiles manufacturer Kvadrat taps young designers to reinterpret its classic Hallingdal 65 upholstery. Zaniness ensues.

Hallingdal 65 is one of those upholstery fabrics you’ve probably used dozens of times without knowing you were parking your rump on a design classic. Developed in 1965 by Danish furniture designer Nanna Ditzel (one of few women to penetrate the boys’ club of mid-century design), it has a unique wool-and-viscose composition and a rich, tweedy texture that’s been rolled out everywhere, from airports and hospitals to museums and private homes. The manufacturer, Denmark-based Kvadrat, has reportedly sold more than 13 million feet of the stuff. Today, you’ll find Hallingdal 65 between the hallowed walls of MoMA and in the tasteful showrooms of Fritz Hansen and Moroso.

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But nearly 50 years have passed since Kvadrat first released the textile, its first ever. Amid an ever-expanding roster of sleek, technologically sophisticated upholstery, Hallingdal lacks the novelty of its competitors. So to mark the fabric’s relaunch this year in almost two dozen freshly issued shades, Kvadrat tapped seven curators–including design powerhouses Tord Boontje and Ilse Crawford–and dozens of young designers to “reinterpret the classic textile… in a modern context.” The updates were featured in an exhibit during the Salone del Mobile, a furniture fair in Milan, last week.

Our slideshow above shows off some of the best reuses. Brooklyn-based Todd Bracher created eye-popping string art by lacing the fabric around a hoop chair. Spain’s Mermeladaestudio designed a turquoise tepee, and Singapore’s Ministry of Design sewed together bolts in assorted candy colors to create Moroccan-style poufs, which look like oversized lifesavers. For sheer cleverness, BLESS, a German studio, takes the cake: They used Hallingdal 65 to fabricate a big, soft chair in the shape of a car: a car seat. Ya’ get it?

The point was to show other designers–the fair’s primary audience–how much new life they can breathe into a classic design. And while I don’t suspect anyone will feel inspired to build a car out of wool, surely Kvadrat has achieved something no less extraordinary: It made us write an entire post about 47-year-old fabric.

[Images courtesy of Kvadrat; h/t Wallpaper]

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About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D

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