DISEGNO #12

Reflex

London

8 November 2016

The stripe has a particular position in 20th-century design.

While its endorsement by Coco Chanel – who donned the traditional striped marinière jumper in the 1920s – made the previously controversial pattern de rigueur among fashion houses, it was relatively slow to gain a foothold in interior design. It wasn’t until the 1960s, when Scandinavian textile brands such as Marimekko and later 10-Gruppen championed bold block stripes for interiors, that it gained desirability, an impact enhanced by French artist Daniel Burens’s striped room installations.

In previous centuries, wearing stripes had been considered degenerate and was reserved for prison uniforms, court jesters, servants and prostitutes. In the world of interiors, they suggested grandeur – think dainty rococo stripes or 18th- century wall hangings. As a result, it seems that the pattern’s Venn diagram of clothing, furniture and acceptability only found a happy medium in the late-20th century.

Raf Simons’s decision to use stripes for his new collection of interior textiles for Kvadrat is therefore historically loaded. Unlike the garish block prints of the 1960s – more sun lounger than chaise longue – Simons’s textiles are woven in beautiful wool by a family-run factory in Norway, adding a richness and quality to an otherwise cheap and cheerful stripe. After centuries of impropriety, perhaps it even adds an air of respectability.