annewhidden

I am an architectural designer, and an independent design historian with a long-standing interest in textiles.

An interest in materials, how things are made, and the processes of making led me originally to architecture. Architectural training taught me both how to design and how to think about design as part of a larger social context. Further training in architectural history and historic preservation led to work that involved studying buildings, decoration, furniture and objects from different historical periods.

I have studied and practiced architecture in New York and Brussels and taught architectural design in Hong Kong. My textile interests over the years had a lot to do with where I was working and/or traveling: from ’60s Marimekko (Chicago); to textiles by Voysey, Josef Frank and Alvar Aalto (Brussels); to Japanese happi coats and obi, and Chinese robes (Hong Kong/Tokyo); to Bauhaus, Anni Albers and the Cranbrook weavers (New York); to ikat (Singapore); to African Kanga and Dutch import fabrics (Tanzania). I became fascinated with the ways the historical international trade in textiles set up design conversations between continents and countries.

Once I discovered Swedish mid-century rugs about ten years ago, I needed to know more.
They were graphic, colorful, well-designed: textile counterparts to the more famous mid-century chairs, light fixtures and silver jewelry I already knew. I am fortunate to live in New York City, where there are great design libraries, a number of dealers who handle Swedish rugs, and a number of professional “rug people” who offered encouragement as I started my research on Swedish rugs. I was prepared to start learning Swedish so I could do research, since it looked like most of the literature on these textiles had not been translated into English. Because Sweden is in the process of digitizing much of its craft history and museum collections, it also means that there are now many fascinating pieces of the puzzle to be found on-line.

This blog will be about what I have discovered and what I’m continuing to learn. It is primarily about several kinds of mid-century weavings and their designers. But it’s also about the whole culture of weaving and home design in twentieth-century Sweden. I hope you enjoy sharing my meanders in Swedish textile and design history.

I studied and practiced architecture in New York and Brussels and taught architectural design in Hong Kong. My textile interests over the years had a lot to do with where I was working and/or traveling: from '60s Marimekko (Chicago); to the Wiener Werkstätte and Bauhaus to Aalto’s textiles (Brussels/Finland); Japanese happi coats and obi, and Chinese robes (Hong Kong/Tokyo); Josef Frank to Anni Albers (New York); Fortuny (Venice); African Kanga and Dutch import fabrics (Tanzania). I became fascinated with the ways the historical international trade in textiles set up design conversations between continents and countries.

I had seen Swedish flat weave rugs before, not quite knowing what they were, but the first rug in my blog is the one that made me sit up and pay attention. I knew that the graphic quality of it looked sort of “mid-century.” But what were the initials in two of the corners, one of which was ID in the lower right. What did that mean? I was retiring from architecture, and decided this would be a good time to find out. It has been a journey of several years of intense research, —an almost full-time job!

Luckily I live in New York City where there are great design libraries and dealers who handle these rugs. And I was prepared to start learning Swedish so I could research these rugs, since it looked like most of the literature on them was in Swedish. Sweden seem to be in the process of digitalizing its entire history, so there are many more fascinating pieces of the puzzle to be found on-line.

This blog will be about what I have found out and what I’m continuing to learn. It is mostly about these rugs and their weavers, but also about the whole culture of weaving and design in Sweden, a bit about Swedish culture, and here and there a little just about textiles that catch my eye.