Designed by Ulrika Mårtensson
& Margot Barolo
The ‘Curly’ throw was born when designer duo Margot Barolo and Ulrika Mårtensson was experimenting with sculptural patterns by getting a knitting machine to go ‘wrong’. The tension of the yarn and its elasticity caused the piece of knitting to turn itself round, thereby creating a living structure which is both stylish and unruly in expression. Thanks to its billowing form the fabric feels airy on one’s skin when it is used as a throw or a shawl.
Is it not inherently interesting that the rather modest assignment that we allot to a throw or blanket — something that can be pulled up underone’s chin when the cold weather sets in — is among the most important of human tasks? Architecture, with very much greater pretensions, is basically concerned with the same mission. Buildings keep us warm, shutting out the wind and the extremes of temperature and providing us with a pleasant atmosphere in which to live. But textiles are not viewed like this. Such is the opinion of Margot Barolo and Ulrika Mårtensson who designed Curly, a throw that can hardly be used for building rooms but which cannot be reduced to a two-dimensional coloured surface.
“Textiles are base materials with a high degree of three-dimensionality,” Ulrika Mårtensson claims. “In our view, textiles are treated too simply, being seen as basically flat surfaces.”
“Sadly, textiles are viewed as though they were colours,” her colleague Margot Barolo adds. As though to emphasize their claim, Curly’s most prominent characteristic is precisely that it is overspun in a manner that creates a three-dimensional ‘surface’.
Convention is a potent force, even among the people responsible for manufacturing the throw. In the factory where Curly is made the machines have been intentionally programmed in a manner that is normally considered ‘wrong’. Extreme tension together with the fact that the yarn is overspun is what gives the throw its three-dimensional effect. But the manufacturing staff have had to work hard to counter the impulse to steam the wool in order to flatten it.
It is expressions like this that lengthy experience of textiles gives rise to — a need to adapt one’s expertise and a need to understand which rules have to be broken in order to achieve the designer’s goal.
“We often ask ourselves: can you really do this? Let’s try. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it does not, but then at least we have tried. One of us works in small scale with details, pragmatic and pondering. The other one thinks big, on an architectural scale. Our work is a hybrid of both.”
The design studio Barolo/Mårtensson works in a broad field with clients like IKEA, Svenskt Tenn and Rörstrand.
Margot Barolo is a product designer who has delved into the issues of production, challenging the image of
the Swedish crafts and design industry and how we evaluate the creation/design of an object.
Ulrika Mårtensson is an architect and textile designer. She has been working with large-scale textile installations and development of sound absorbing textiles for public spaces.