Raf Simons Just Dropped a 16-Piece Shaker-Inspired Accessory Collection for Kvadrat
Over the course of nine years, the ongoing collaboration between Raf Simons and Kvadrat has brought us bold textiles attuned to color, texture, and proportion. The latest project, the Shaker System, from the Belgian designer (and Prada co-creative director) and the Danish textile company is no exception, while also being a bit of a departure. It’s a storage and accessories collection that fuses a precise simplicity with the comfort and ease of home. The idea came, in part, from Simons’ numerous moves between Europe and America, and continually having to establish a place that felt welcoming. Think of it as Simons asking: “How do we actually live?” And then answering the question with functional organization that wants to be displayed. The Shaker System has more than enough character to anchor a space, but it can also, chameleon-like, mix with what’s already there.
As the name implies, Simons, who trained in industrial design before moving into fashion, was drawn to the clean, spare look and utility of American Shaker furniture, using the Shaker peg rack as a reference and centering the system around a horizontal rail. It’s upholstered in Vidar 4 fabric, a satin-y weave from the Kvadrat/Raf Simons line, originally designed by Fanny Aronsen and re-colored by Simons; the partnership with Kvadrat has given Simons the chance to explore color in upholstery fabrics that have a greater density and different textural quality than the materials he uses in clothing. This time, he’s selected four colors to work with from Vidar 4: pink, dark green, off-white, and black — a monochromatic approach intended to draw attention to shape and form.
The rail becomes a convenient spot for the objects of daily life — but here those objects are refined with nuanced details: cozy throws, lambswool cushions, accessory boxes and a mirror tray clad in leather, a knit cap, totes and shopping bags, key fobs, storage sleeves for papers, and a leather magazine strap. In all, the multiple items in the system can stand alone or, better yet, complement each other in a variety of combinations. The collection will launch in two parts, the first available this month, and is currently available in Kvadrat’s newly opened Copenhagen showroom, with more retailers to come.
Conceptually, Simons was inspired by the adaptable, system-based approach Joe Colombo took with his 1969 show Visiona 1, where the Italian designer came up with a violet-toned space-age apartment comprised of units like “the night-cell” and the “kitchen-box.” (This was part of an exhibition series in which German corporation Bayer AG hired designers to create temporary living spaces… on a boat… in Cologne. Cue the breezy, hedonistic sounds of late ’60s Tropicalia.) The Shaker collection also echoes the minimalist shapes and surface finishes of John McCracken and Donald Judd, as well as the sleek works of French art deco designer Jacques Adnet. When this much care and attention is put into workaday objects, it leads you to reconsider just what ordinary is and what it can be.
PHOTOS BY PHILIP MESSMANN