Bolon: ‘If we were to flirt with other businesses, they should really be fashion brands’ 16.02.17

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Annica and Marie Eklund, the flooring company’s directors spoke to us as they launched three new collections in Stockholm

Last week during Stockholm Furniture Fair, flooring company Bolon launched three new ranges. The first two – Villa La Madonna, developed for the Bolon’s new Italian guesthouse, and Duet – were designed in-house and are available as rugs. Both integrate glittering wool threads with the company’s signature vinyl. Leading designers and manufacturers – from Doshi Levien and Färg & Blanche to Thonet, BD Barcelona, Gärsnäs and Moroso – were invited to apply these products as fabric on selected pieces of furniture. Bolon also released a collection by architect Jean Nouvel, known for his preoccupation with red, blue and black and his appreciation for shimmering, tactile surfaces. Icon spoke to the company’s directors, Annica and Marie Eklund, to find out more.

ICON What’s new at this launch is that the materials you usually produce to cover floors has been used to upholster furniture. How did this idea come about?

Marie Eklund We experimented for many years, but we finally committed to weave with other materials to introduce a more tactile element to the collections. We’ll never leave vinyl, because that’s our signature material, but we started introducing paper, wool and glittering yarn into the weave, just to try it out. When we saw the first sample, we were like, ‘wow’, because we liked both the character of the prototypes, but also the design, look, quality and durability of the result. It got us thinking – today we dress the floor, but we could be dressing the rest of the interior. So we decided to invite our collaborators, and were happy when they saw the materials and accepted.

Annica Eklund Over the years, we have also met many architects who use our products on the floor, but liked the quality and asked whether they could use it on walls or as upholstery. It’s exciting to finally be where we are and to be flirting with a new chapter for Bolon.

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The Villa La Madonna collection, for the Eklunds' guesthouse in Italy

ICON What was the collaboration with Jean Nouvel like?

AE We have worked with our designer friends for a few years now, but we also wanted to collaborate with architects. Our first choice was Jean Nouvel, so we wrote him a letter, because we knew he used Bolon on one of his earlier projects. He invited us to his studio and we presented our thoughts about the collaboration, and after a few days they called back saying, ‘We love it, let’s go for it’. This was some time ago – he designed a stand for us at Stockholm Furniture Fair in 2012 – but he mentioned then he’d like to collaborate with our R&D team. For the new collection, we went through 150 different samples. This is only the second time an external collaborator has designed a collection for us, after Missoni in 2012.

ICON You speak a lot about designer friends. Do close relationships like this help you select your collaborators?

AE We are guided by our heart as well as our gut feeling. Our collaborators need to match our philosophy and thinking.

ME It’s about sharing passion for design. We meet a lot of people, and when you start talking, you immediately feel if there’s a connection. When we met Missoni, it was immediate and it felt like talking to family.

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Färg & Blanche Couture chair for BD Barcelona upholstered in Bolon's Duet

ICON It’s noteworthy that you’ve chosen to invite such a wide range of designers, from younger ones, such as Färg & Blanche to more established ones like Doshi Levien to use your materials on their furnishings.

ME That’s always been important to us – mixing generations.

AE We’re always inspired by young designers. They don’t need to be famous, only to have good ideas. The combination is so exciting for us, because we’re able to try and learn new things all the time.

ICON Who is on your wishlist for the next collaboration?

AE We’d like to collaborate ever more widely, and we think someone like Phoebe Philo, who designs for the fashion brand Céline, would be great. She has a great sense of style and elegance, which she combines with high quality materials...

ME And she also works with strong, graphic lines. We want to stay on the contract market, but if we were to flirt with other businesses, they should really be fashion brands. They’re so creative and they play with the material, which fits very well with what we do at Bolon.

 

Words

Peter Smisek

 

Above: Bolon by Jean Nouvel

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The class divider is decorated with dotted chains that are supposed to represent a bead curtain

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