A TALK WITH ANDERS BYRIEL
Photography by Tor Birk Trads
Kvadrat is a leading company in the textile field, founded in 1968 and best known for its typical Scandinavian aesthetic, innovation and constant research for quality. Thanks to the several collaborations with some of the most famous designers, architects and contemporary artists, Kvadrat products became the subjects of new creative and stimulating visions. We visited the headquarters in Ebeltoft, that are surrounded by the Danish greenery, where the CEO Anders Byriel told us about the company’s fundamental values, past and future projects and their development.
You became CEO of Kvadrat in 1998 at a very young age, exponentially expanding the growth of the company created by your father from the very beginning of your arrival. You must be very proud of what you achieved so far. So, what’s next? What’s your dream goal to come?
We have grown 87% the last 5 years and intend to keep the pace but first of all it is about becoming “the” design textile company in all parts of the world by engaging and being relevant in the local design culture context.
The year 2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of the company. In this time you have brought the often underestimated world of textiles and fabrics to a whole new level, making it a synonym of cultural depth and why not, ‘coolness’. Going over your many collaborations – Raf Simons, Olafur Eliasson, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec to name a few – could underline any anecdote or scene that has really made a mark in your memory?
Most collaborations carry their own special story. Thomas Demand somehow started our journey into contemporary art. We met at Louisiana. We were both young and we helped build the cinema set in Kunsthaus Bregenz… It was a very powerful set and nobody showed up. A humble start into something that we at first thought was too elitist but today is a very important part of our culture.
What is the secret behind a well thought and well designed textile? After all, what really makes Kvadrat textiles so unique?
We always start with a new design approach into an existing or new category. Then we try to set the standard in the market so any Kvadrat product should be 30-50% better than “good-enough-products” in respect of material content and performance.
In November you have inaugurated a new flagship showroom in Copenhagen designed by Bouroullec Studio. The whole project is focused on ‘materiality’. What does this concept mean to you?
In this project, like in most projects with the brothers, we try to push the boundaries for how to interpret space and sometimes succeeding in creating new typologies, like for example Clouds, and here creating a new way of hanging textiles. I really like that it has 3 defined spaces: a specifying space for architects, a free one for exhibitions and finally a work space.
Your headquarter in Ebeltoft is located on 60.000 mq of natural surroundings, overlooking the central east coast of the country. How does this location affects the way you work and what role does sustainability play in it?
We are located in a very beautiful place but also in the middle of nowhere. We are living with nature and landscape so sustainability is not something abstract for us. We are in what I call the third wave where becoming circular is the next challenge.
Both ceramics and textiles act as a second skin in the making of an interior, if you would match one of our collection with one of your fabrics, which ones would them be?
Déchirer by Patricia Urquiola has been a landmark in ceramic application and it would work beautifully with her textile design Memory for us. Both examples of a new and sophisticated use of pattern.
If Kvadrat had never existed, and you could have a fresh start, what would you be doing?
I would probably work somehow with contemporary art or work with leadership in another creative industry.