Earlier this year at the National Academy of Design, Anders Byriel, CEO of the textile leader Kvadrat, and Raf Simons, creative director of Calvin Klein, debuted their newest collaborative fabric collection, “Ria.” Kvadrat first partnered with Simons in 2014 on a unique collection, and “Ria” marks their fourth time working together. “Ria” is a diverse line of 12 new and five re-worked fabrics for furniture and decorative décor, including accessories. Whitewall spoke with Byriel to learn more about attention to detail, quality material, and craftsmanship.
WHITEWALL: How did Kvadrat’s partnership with Raf Simons first begin?
ANDERS BYRIEL: It actually came about because he worked with Jil Sander. We were introduced in Milan at Salone del Mobile. He saw our materials and was super-excited about them—the colors, and the quality of what we did. So we started supplying it for the Jil Sander collections.
We had a brand extension, which was very crafty. Unfortunately, its creative director passed, and so instead of going to someone we didn’t really know, we said, “Let’s talk with Raf.” He understands us and understands how we look at color. And he’s very excited about our quality in material.
We met at his home in Antwerp and mostly spoke about art. The link was there and now we are on our fourth collection. There’s been a lot of inspiration.
WW: The new collection, “Ria,” is displayed on a variety of rare furniture pieces, enhancing their designs, such as those by Isamu Noguchi. How did you choose which pieces of furniture to use?
AB: Raf did. He chose it all. He’s so into midcentury. We’ve always been very contemporary. We are very much about the next thing and being experimental. To work with Raf, who is so aware of history, and in a way interpreting history, that’s been exciting.
WW: How many different textiles are there?
AB: We have created seventeen over the past four years. But the thing is, like fashion, it will go out of fashion, and then you do a new collection. The good thing for us is that we can add every year, and it becomes more and more complex and deep.
WW: What kinds of points of inspiration were behind the new textiles in “Ria,” in collaboration with Raf?
AB: Art definitely plays a big role. Of course, Raf is also inspired by fashion. But impressionists and painting, layering for light and depth—it’s transformed into the fabric. That’s where the magic happens with yarn. And the yarn is started from scratch every year. Fashion is exciting because with interior textile, we are pretty disciplined. But fashion is far freer, and references are all over. And that’s liberating. Fashion is a freer world, more accepting.
WW: “Ria” also has a line of accessories. What does that include?
AB: It includes throws in cashmere and mohair, and cushions. It’s relatively quiet and just about doing things that are very beautiful and about quality, quality, quality.