Kvadrat’s First New York Showroom Is an Elegant Homage to the Square
Squares, with their even proportions and sharp corners, evoke a sense of honest, hard-edged rationality. The shape has deep connections with Kvadrat, the 54-year-old Danish textile company known for its forward-looking, often vibrant fabrics and artistic collaborations. The brand’s very name is a Danish word for the four-sided form, which, in the old days, before the advent of computers, covered the graph paper used to record textile patterns. The square literally lay at the core of its fabrics’ structure.
Appropriately, the square plays a prominent role in the design of Kvadrat’s first physical New York space—its third in North America (a fourth, in Chicago, is slated for next year)—expressing the company’s history, mission, and values in both specific and symbolic ways. Opening today, by appointment, on the corner of Park Avenue and 58th Street, the 8,000-square-foot, two-story showroom combines two areas—a main room for Kvadrat’s contract offerings, and an adjacent library-inspired room for its residential collections—each with its own entrance, in an environment that invites people to experience the brand, and its entire portfolio of products and services, firsthand.
Kvadrat’s abiding bond with the square captured the imagination of Jonathan Olivares, a longtime Kvadrat collaborator who designed the showroom’s central space using his signature blend of intensive research and conceptual thinking. Laid out on a 6-by-6-foot grid, it’s his version of an homage to the square, skillfully woven together into an elegant reflection of the brand.
The space’s defining feature exists overhead in the form of a recycled aluminum catwalk, which lines the perimeter of the second level. “It creates a skyline over the showroom,” Olivares says, noting that the Pepsi-Cola Building across the street, by SOM’s Natalie de Blois and Gordon Bunshaft, is one of the earliest examples of aluminum construction in architecture. Painted a calming sky blue, the walkway provides a neutral background for the textiles, bridges upstairs offices and conference rooms, and offers visitors a bird’s-eye view of the ground floor below. In a subtle wink, there are indeed airplane-like qualities to its highly engineered details.
There, among meeting rooms, offices, and free-hanging bolts of fabric, Olivares translated the square concept into workspaces for architects, designers, and their clients. Colorful iterations of his playful Square chair, created in collaboration with Moroso, fill the space, as do custom wood and metal tables, whose craftsmanship references the attention to detail that Kvadrat champions, and angular wood side tables that riff on the showroom’s geometric theme. The upholstery of each Square chair appears in a range of colorways from a given Kvadrat collection. For the opening, fabrics from Olivares’s 2018 Twill Weave line, along with those from his new Broken Twill Weave line, cover the seats. Olivares developed hues for the latter series, marked by its intricate herringbone structure, based on the landscape of an experimental house he conceptualized in Mexico, where pine cones, agave plants, and flowers abound. (The home will eventually serve as a site for Olivares and other creative minds to explore textile design.)
Elsewhere, walls are covered in right-angled Kvadrat Acoustic panels, providing quiet and warmth, or painted drywall, enabling the showroom to function as a gallery or event space. In the library-inspired room, which follows a concept developed by Vincent Van Duysen Architects for Kvadrat’s residential showrooms in London, Paris, and Milan, visitors can explore Kvadrat’s residential collections and brands—Sahco, Kvadrat/Raf Simons, and Kvadrat curtains and rugs—in an environment illuminated by fixtures from Van Duysen’s Infra-Structure lighting series for Flos.
The mood Olivares hopes to evoke is rooted in his experience at Kvadrat’s headquarters in Ebeltoft, Denmark. “There’s a calmness to the environment,” he says. “You can swim in the still water or the North Sea, walk on the grass fields, and take in the sky. Then your attention turns to their textiles, which are so abundantly varied, vivid in color, and rich in texture.” He tried to carry that dichotomy into the Midtown Manhattan showroom. “On Park Avenue, there are cherry blossoms and tulips in the median, and it is one of the wider avenues in the city with a big view of the sky,” Olivares says. “Then the blue catwalk brings that calmness inside. Visitors will feel that they are in a tranquil environment, where a world of color and texture unfolds.”