Milan report / Ilse Crawford of StudioIlse, Designer x Ikea : “The more virtual our lives become, the more we crave the physical. We used natural materials as they engage our senses and connect us to ourselves, to our feelings and to our homes.”

Presse_IlseCrawford_photographed_Leslie_Williamson georg jensen

“The more virtual our lives become, the more we crave the physical. We used natural materials as they engage our senses and connect us to ourselves, to our feelings and to our homes.” Ilse Crawford, StudioIlse

Posing seated under an iconic Bumling pendant lamp (from Atelje Lyktan) and next to her gorgeous Mama Vase which is part of a collection she designed for danish company Georg Jensen, Ilse Crawford is a former journalist who later became the Editor in Chief of the British ELLE Decoration. At the age of 27, she was actually recruited to launch this version of the magazine… A challenge that became a success driving her to New York where she took the head of Donna Karan Home collection. In 2001 she launched her own design agency based in London : StudioIlse. Additionnaly to designers matali crasset and Paola Navone and as part of a pop up store in Milan during the Salone del Mobile, a new collection by Ilse Crawford is currently being exhibited. It is due to be in stores worldwide in August 2015. It was IKEA that approached Studioilse to collaborate on this collection. During a three-year-long process, Studioilse and IKEA learned to appreciate both the similarities and differences in their approaches and created SINNERLIG, a warm collection for the home.

Earlier this year StudioIlse was also commissionned by Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair ‘to engage visitors with a series of questions’. This led to the ‘Question time’ installation of which Ilse commented : “We want to slow people down and encourage them to think about the wider significance of the fair experience and all that is on show. The lounge will feel a bit like a studio – our studio in Bermondsey, south London. As well as long work benches, chairs and task lights, we will construct a giant cork wall. We will pin a series of large questions and on the tables will be notepads and marker pens and printers – the idea being that people sit, think, respond and pin their answer on the cork wall.” As you see cork (a sustainable material) as much as the very idea of slow (as a process and state of mind) are part of StudioIlse brand.

Although I normaly use only exclusive editorial materials (ndlr. interviews) I found this interview very relevant and genuine enough to share it with you on my blog. I did not meet in person with Ilse Crawford but of course I did attend the Salone last week and saw the collection for real ! I really love it and I am craving for the ceiling lamp (I also loved her lamps for Watsberg) ! I hope you love it too !

Marcus Engman, Design Manager, Ikea : Can you talk about the collaboration between IKEA and Studioilse?

Ilse Crawford : Most designers dream of making genuinely good things that are sustainable and affordable. A collaboration with a company like IKEA enables you to reach out to a large audience. But it’s not easy to make design affordable. You have to integrate all aspects of the process.

ME : How did the collaboration come about?

IC : It’s actually more common that companies try to copy you rather than collaborate with you. But IKEA came to us, which is far more valuable for both sides, and created an opportunity to move things forward together.

ME : What surprised you about working with IKEA?

IC : I was really impressed by the knowledge and specific expertise IKEA has. There is a specialist in everything. We met the coating expert. We met the sustainable textiles expert. We were able to talk to people working in distribution and shipping, who shared with us the finer points on how to let nothing go to waste and the principle of not shipping air.

ME : How did you approach the design for SINNERLIG?

IC : We talk a lot about ‘liquid spaces’. People today don’t need furniture with fixed functions, but rather furniture with a degree of flexibility that can be repurposed as their lives change. Life evolves, and furniture needs to evolve with it. For instance, SINNERLIG includes a dining table that can be a worktable, a bench that can be a console, and a stool that can be a side table.

ME : Why did you decide to use cork in the collection?

IC : We are drawn to it because it has acoustic properties, it’s soft, it’s warm, it’s affordable, it’s natural and, of course, it’s sustainable. It’s pretty much a waste-free material. There is also a lot of research into getting the natural feeling of cork when it comes to coatings. Now you can throw red wine on it without any problems. You often put human behaviours at the centre of your work.

ME : How did you do that with SINNERLIG?

IC : It’s important for us to get human qualities like warmth, well-being and care into the end product. In practice, it’s a rigorous process. It’s about addressing how we move intuitively, how we come together socially, and understanding the things that connect us on a human level.

“To evolve, be interesting and make great design available for the many individuals, we need great partners with whom we can engage in inspiring collaborations.” Marcus Engman, Design Manager, IKEA

Ilse Crawford is also the designer of the ‘young’ but much celebrated Ett Em, a 100-year-old house in Stockholm converted in a small but warm boutique hotel. Last year she was also invited by Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb during the London Design Festival along with designers Patternity, Raw Edges and Jasper Morrison to take part in the project ‘A place called home’ in Trafalgar Square. She also took on the creative direction of Tina Seidenfaden Busck’s Copenhagen design gallery, The Apartment, as a guest interior designer. Also if you have recently travelled trough Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and used the newly refurbished Cathay Pacific‘s lounge you’d probably recognized StudioIlse’s design.

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