How 19 Designers Interpreted Kvadrat’s Most Famous Fabric

Over the next few days, we’ll be highlighting some of our favorite exhibitions from the just-closed London Design Festival (including our own exhibition at the London Design Fair!). First up is My Canvas, a Kvadrat show that asked 19 international designers to create anything they’d like using reams of the Danish textile company’s colorful Canvas upholstery, created in 2012 by Italian designer Giulio Ridolfo. The show followed the familiar framework of previous Kvadrat showcases, and the exhibition itself seemed rather cramped considering its grand and spacious host location, Somerset House. But the items themselves were perhaps the most inventive this series has ever produced.

Chen Chen and Kai Williams started the project intending to make a boat by replacing fiberglass with upholstery and hardening the fibers with epoxy. “Structurally it worked, but aesthetically it was a failure,” the designers say. “The beautifully rich colors of the textile became muddy and uninteresting once the epoxy had soaked in. This was in striking contrast to the frayed edges that were appearing as we cut the textile. As the edges frayed and the individual colors in the weave were revealed, they had an unexpected intensity. These frayed edges resembled the decorative fringe of a Chinese lion dance costume. We became excited by the idea of creating a performance where the textile could be seen in movement and as part of an artifact.” (Check out the piece in motion here.)

Other favorites: Mimi Jung deconstructed a roll of yarn and used a single color to upholster a bench while the deconstructed threads form a ghostly, unusable seat in the middle. BCXSY (seen at top) created a bench in which different colors of the fabric can be manually rolled out, conveyor belt–style. And Judith Seng created amorphous swaths of fabric that act as a skin that can only be activated by stiff metallic “bones.” See some of our favorites below, then go to Kvadrat to see the whole suite of objects.

KVADRAT_CANVAS_Mimi Jung (Have a Seat)_high 1

Mimi JungKVADRAT_CANVAS_Chen Chen & Kai Williams (Lion Dance Costume) 004

Chen Chen & Kai Williams5 KVADRAT_CANVAS_Group Shot_high 005_

From left: Butternutten, Gamplusfratesi, Jonathan Muecke, BCXSYKVADRAT_CANVAS_Felipe Ribon (BROK Festival)_high

Felipe RibonKVADRAT_CANVAS_KVADRAT_CANVAS_Maria Jeglinska (Backdrop(s))_high 01

Maria JeglinskaKVADRAT_CANVAS_Studio Stabil (Einfach Schöner Wohnen)_high 01

StabilKVADRAT_CANVAS_GamFratesi (MASK)_high 02

GamplusfratesiKVADRAT_CANVAS_Jonathan Muecke (Horizontal & Vertical Textile Shape)_high 01

Jonathan MueckeKVADRAT_CANVAS_Atelier Max Lipsey (Woven Bench)

Atelier Max LipseyKVADRAT_CANVAS_Judith Seng (Skin and Bones)_high 07 KVADRAT_CANVAS_Judith Seng (Skin and Bones)_high 06

Judith SengKVADRAT_CANVAS_Martha Schwindling (Tension at Work)_high 01

Martha Schwindling1 KVADRAT_CANVAS_Group Shot_high 001_

Mimi Jung, Judith Seng, Christien Meinderstma4 KVADRAT_CANVAS_Group Shot_high 004_

Tenuhiro Yanagihara, KateChungDesign, Stabil