To showcase Kvadrat’s extensive fabric and carpet lines at this year’s IMM Cologne, German designer Werner Aisslinger whipped up The Garden of Wonders, a quirky installation and exhibition stand made up entirely of the Danish brand’s colourful textiles. Located just beyond the fairgrounds at the prestigious Design Post, showstoppers included Hella Jongerius’s latest offerings, Landscape, Cocoon and Cross, the latter of which is a series with two variations, Cross Cut and Cross Border. Frame met with Danskina's design director at the stand to discuss the ins and outs of carpet design from her perspective.

Can you tell me a bit about the new collections you are showing at IMM?
HELLA JONGERIUS: We are presenting three collections this year at IMM: Cocoon, Landscape and Cross. Cocoon is a hand-woven carpet composed of a mixture of cotton and wool that features a tactile layer made up of tiny knots. The knots create a random pattern and give it volume. It’s quite unusual to have a bulky woven carpet, so it is something new to the market.

The Cocoon collection is formed with hand-woven cotton and wool.

The Cross collection is a series of tufted rugs in wool and viscose yarn that are perforated to expose the floor underneath. Cross was rather difficult to engineer. We had to design a sturdy pile that would stay upright and a special anti-slip backing that would match the honeycombed structure.

The perforations of Danskina's Cross collection reveals the flooring below.

Normally, when you tuft a carpet, you tuft the whole thing from left to right. What we did instead was tuft around each hole. That in itself makes the Cross range very unique. The third collection, Landscape, is a collage of all kinds of yarn shaved in different patterns to form a subtle visual terrain.

The Landscape collection's yarns are shaved to form subtle patterns.

When viewed together, the shaved yarns create a terrain of textures.

What led you to these three collections? Did you start with a clear concept or were they the result of a process?
They all came out of a process. We are constantly experimenting with new ideas and have numerous projects on the pipeline. A design goes into production once all the testing is done and the problems are solved. The quality and price also have to be right. There are so many factors involved, so it’s impossible for me to estimate a timeline for any of my designs. Cross took us four years to make, whereas Cocoon took us about a year and a half.

Cross' production process took Dankina four years to execute.

Argali, which we launched last year, took even less time. Nevertheless, the quality of Argali is very high, so it is on the expensive side. When we launched it, we didn’t know how the market would react, or whether customers would understand the quality of the carpet. There is a lot we have to consider before putting a design on the market. 

What are some of the things you think about when approaching a carpet design?
A carpet should first and foremost be comfortable. I think about how carpets are constructed and the yarns involved in that process. Besides tufting and weaving, there isn’t much to experiment with when it comes to technique. I am interested in how yarn can be used differently.

Hella Jongerius strives to use yarns differently for diverse results.

For instance, I think wool should be used in the contract market. I don’t believe in using polyester. Instead, I want to see wool carpets in our offices and hotels at the same prices as plastic. These are the issues I find interesting and important. In terms of design, I take a rather sober approach. I don’t like big patterns. It’s a language that doesn’t appeal to me. A carpet takes up a lot of space, so it should be subtle, but still have character and be comfortable. The yarn should bring it all. 

The success of a carpet is contingent upon the space and the furniture that surrounds it. How do you design around the unknown?
It is a challenge, but not as challenging as designing fabric. You never know what the application of a fabric will be, whether it will be used for a furniture piece, cushion, or something else. A textile is a half-fabrication whereas a carpet is a completed 2-D object. Sizes and colours may vary, but you know how a carpet is meant to be used.

Collections are available in colour palettes which complement a wide range of spaces.

I don’t think it’s necessary to know what interior it will go in. There aren’t many types of flooring. Of course there are always exceptions, but most are a light or dark variation of either concrete or wood. We offer a colour range that works well with any kind of interior or flooring.

Flooring is an element of interior space that is often overlooked. Why do you think that is?
This is simply because there aren’t many interesting options. A lot of people buy cheap rugs that don’t last. The quality is missing. I think this is an important topic, especially in our digital age. Most of our time at home is spent in front of glass screens. Our minds are constantly elsewhere. We need tactility in our homes to help ground us.

Jongerius explores the tactility of carpets to appeal to human instincts.

As a textile designer, what does tactility mean to you?
To me tactility is a communication tool. When something is tactile you can feel a structure. This is how an object can communicate and also what makes it attractive. Tactility is appealing to us because it speaks to our human instincts. When we like someone we touch them. It is how we express affection. Carpet is all about tactility, so it is very important that it appeal to the senses in this way.