My Mirrors is made up of laptop cases, clutches, envelope bags and bracelets in felt, leather and lacquered leather, all with large, round, shiny metal buttons. It marks a departure for Wallén’s work, with a more distinct focus on fashion rather than product design. Or rather, a focus on accessories for the person, rather than the home.
Wallén came to prominence in the early 1990s when her Crux blanket first launched. Made from felted wool and with a graphic pattern of crosses in contrasting colour ways of white and red or white and black, the blanket came to symbolise a new wave of Swedish contemporary design that received international acclaim during the 1990s.
The blanket was followed by Wallén's Unisex Slipper, a design that features a prominent contrasting zig-zag stitch down the middle. Together with the blanket, the slippers are still in production.
It’s an incredible longevity, even in the design world. These products now have a similar iconic status to modern design classics like Konstantin Grcic’s Mayday lamp for Flos or Jasper Morrison’s Air-Chair for Magis.
“Many of my products have now been around for over 20 years, which is great, but I really don’t like only being known as the ‘slipper lady’,” says Wallén. The success of these products has brought benefits however; they have afforded Wallén a certain freedom to pursue her own agenda, free from the deadlines of either the fashion or design industry.
The early success lead to a visibility in the design world, with projects for Capellini among others, but Wallén is first and foremost a fashion designer. “I studied fashion design at Beckmans in Stockholm and fashion was always my first love,” she says. "This interior focus just happened by coincidence and I’m now trying to change that.”
As a result My Mirrors coincides with a redesign of Wallén’s packaging and her website. “I want to start a dialogue with fashion again, I have really missed that,” says Wallén.
However, this doesn’t signal a change in Wallén’s choice of materials or colours – felt is still prominent and the lacquered leather has a similar tactile quality, even if the impression is less wholesome; more sexy.
Like the stalwarts Crux and Unisex Slipper, My Mirrors’s strength lies in its minimalism – the collection utilises clear and graphic shapes that can be read as symbols. But while Wallén’s blanket and slipper haven’t got obvious genders, My Mirrors is clearly feminine. “These products mirror me I guess,” says Wallén.