How would you describe your design philosophy?
“Design has to work, not just look good. Good design stems from a real and in-depth understanding of the task at hand, not from imposing an aesthetic point of view. I always aim to create useful designs that are visually attractive, but more importantly are satisfying to the people who use them. I don’t have a didactic outlook. My customers have and should have their own sense of style and individuality. ”
So, how would you describe Area design?
“Thoughtful, beautiful, practical: In a design sense, both light-handed and light-hearted.
What has influenced you as a designer?
“Everything about the aesthetics of my 60’s childhood has been a big influence – from the Swedish modern architecture that surrounded me to what my mother was wearing. I enjoy not only 60’s textiles, but many fabrics from the 1920s as well as moments of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. As an idealist, I’m moved by the perfect balance and weight of Brancusi’s sculptures. And my fashion experience in Italy – I designed shoes – has helped temper my Scandinavian reserve and restraint with a touch of exuberance for craft, texture and sophistication.”
What inspires you?
“I’m inspired, in some way, by just about everything I see. But all of us these days are bombarded by our surroundings, by an overload of unwanted superficial information. To get away from this, I turn to the natural world and art museums, and graze through fabric stores. And I naturally absorb lots of color and form from the Swedish landscape and seascape whenever I return. In a 1952 Herman Miller catalog, George Nelson said the company’s designs were meant for ‘a permanent collection…in the sense that they will not be scrapped for each market or for each new trend.’ That concept really speaks to me. I always edit each collection with an eye towards being trend-resilient yet current.”
How do your designs evolve? What are the steps you take from beginning to end?
“I begin with colors, then move to materials, and then to patterns. In each collection, I look for balance. I always search for the right tone – reworking patterns, trying maybe three or four alternative color schemes, and always leaving room to edit. Sometimes I pick a color that’s not good on its own but works as a core – and build the collection out from it. The challenge is to remain as open as possible while still making decisions throughout the design process.”
What made you decide to start Area?
“I eventually got tired of fashion design – of managing four collections a year. I wanted to go back to fabric design, which I liked most in school. I moved to New York and while thinking about the next move, I freelanced as a textile surface designer for agents in the garment industry. It was then the late 80’s and fashion for the home, at least as I saw it, was ‘the next big thing.’ There wasn’t much range in bedding back then – no duvet covers – and everything was traditional florals, frills and plaids. I noticed that the “style” for sleep in America was very different from that of Scandinavia – it was frou-frou, formal and somewhat pretentious. I realized that there was not only an opportunity to bring a fresh look to the home industry – but maybe a more relaxed style with comfort as an important feature.”
What makes Area unique in the luxury bedding industry?
“Area products are not meant strictly to be beautiful. I always think about what would make the linens vital and distinctive. I like designs that are not completely obvious and can be enjoyed in different moods, over time. And Area is “luxury” only by default or comparison. It was never the intention. Rather the goal has always been to be accessible and designed for everyday use.”
Who is “the” Area customer?
“Anyone and everyone, but generally not a follower – a thinking person who makes decisions for him or herself.”
What has changed in your designs or design process since you started Area 15 years ago?
“My understanding of what people want and how they use the products has deepened over the years. This has yielded a change of aesthetics – an ongoing refinement and discovery – and a larger variety. I’m still intrigued by patterns in blown-up scales – they’re challenging and, perhaps counter-intuitively, require greater accuracy and attention to detail.”
What is the one thing you wish all end customers knew about you or Area?
” I wish everyone who buys my designs is aware of how Area operates independently from the industry’s mainstream, and the trends that propel it. Because of this, I have the freedom to work in my own pace, update and improve designs, and stay true to my ideals rather than follow the market. Additionally, everyone at Area cares about what they do and our product
philosophy is carried throughout our organization. Along with having the best sheets we also have the best people…”
What other products would you like to design?
“I enjoy the notion of designing houses. I am definitely more interested in the spatial aspects of interior design than decorating. And I will always like designing clothes and shoes. That’s undeniably fun!
What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?
“When people tell me they love the sheets!”