Subtlety is risky when it comes to introducing a new collection in Milan. But Ilse Crawford and Nanimarquina captured attention at Salone del Mobile with a statement about understatement. The Wellbeing collection – rugs, cushions, a throw, a wall tapestry and an indoor hammock – eschewed dramatic motifs in favour of hand-spun, unbleached and (riskiest of all) undyed natural fibres such as nettle, jute, linen, Tussar silk and cork.
Materials, tactility and craft – and how their qualities resonate with human senses – form the heart of the collection. “We really looked forward to this project; it brought us closer to our essence, which is to get the most out of the value of craftsmanship,” explains Nani Marquina. The line also epitomizes the trend-bucking aesthetic for which Crawford is known. Azure caught up with the interiors maven to learn more about her way of working and the lessons therein.
“The wool for Wellbeing is Afghan wool, and all the pieces are made in South Asia, which is one of the areas where Nani Marquina has her amazing network of makers. The artisans who made the wall tapestry in India found some tree bark, polished by the water in a river they were working near, so they wove that in. It’s very serendipitous, giving the collection its own nature rather than a consistent, manufactured one.”
“Materials and how they affect us – that fascinates me because we are living in a disembodied age and therefore I think we crave materiality more than ever. Also, I think materiality tells you the truth.”
“Sometimes that sense of ‘we’ve got to launch’ is the most important thing. With Wellbeing, which took two years, it was more important to ensure the criteria were correct and that it was going to work. And that takes time, which is a scarce commodity these days.”
“At our studio, we love to design spaces that are about bringing people together. Ett Hem, the hotel we did in Stockholm, achieved something very unusual in a high-end hotel: It gets people to talk to each other. A number of things were done quite consciously to nudge people together, have them bump into each other. We also did this in Massimo Bottura’s London soup kitchen, Refettorio Felix.”
“The most sustainable thing you can do is to not make things that need to be replaced every five minutes. We’ve had some clients who are really interested in making more timeless environments, and it’s not a question of upmarket or downmarket, or big budgets or small budgets. It’s really a question of mindset.”
The world-renowned British designer collaborates with rug guru Nani Marquina on a textile collection that pushes materiality and craft.