See Raf Simons’ New Donald Judd-Inspired Interiors Collection

Pin It
Kvadrat Raf Simons Shaker System
Kvadrat Raf Simons Shaker System at Gallery Magnus Karlsson on Gotland. Axel Einar Hjort FurniturePhotography by Philip Messmann

Raf Simons’ latest collaboration with Kvadrat draws inspiration from the minimalist ethos of Shaker culture and Donald Judd, and encourages us to display our home possessions like sculpture in a museum

Despite being one of the most acclaimed fashion designers of the 21st century, Raf Simons has always had an equally sophisticated eye for design and interiors. Before launching his eponymous menswear brand in 1995, Simons studied industrial design at the LUCA School of Arts in Genk – and this approach to the arts, that favours the idea of the ‘gesamtkunstwerk’ (the German term for a ‘total work of art‘) has stuck with him ever since. Besides work for his own brand, Simons’ stints as creative director at Jil Sander, Dior Women, Calvin Klein – and now, as co-creative director of Prada – have all showed an aptitude for the bigger picture.

There were show-stopping walls of delphiniums, orchids, roses and peonies at his first ever Dior couture show, Sterling Ruby’s acrid, industrial redesign of Calvin Klein’s flagship store in New York, or the ingenious, Rem Koolhaas-designed faux-fur pandemic show sets. One glance at the Belgian designer’s house in Antwerp, too, proves that Simons is quite literally the high priest of high taste; his mid-century modernist, open-plan home features art by Brian Calvin and Mike Kelley, furniture by Pierre Jeanneret and George Nakashima, and lighting by Isamu Noguchi and Frank Lloyd Wright.

All of this makes him the perfect collaborative candidate for Kvadrat – a Danish textile company based in Copenhagen, which has deep roots in Scandinavia’s world-famous design tradition. Since 2014, Simons has been transplanting his feted taste to the brand, with a luxurious range of fabrics – some inspired by the pointillist, dotty painting technique popularised by Georges Seurat. This week, the pair have launched a new collaboration: a “lifestyle accessories concept” called The Shaker system. While living in the US, Simons was drawn to the Shakers – a religious sect from the 18th century that favoured an unsparing, minimalist approach to design. Considered by many as the forefathers of modern American design, Shaker culture acted as a precursor to the barren minimalism of Donald Judd and John McCracken – two artists who greatly inspired Kvadrat’s new collection.

In the brand’s new concept store located in the Old Town of Copenhagen – a street which also houses a boutique full of eccentric pieces by Danish fashion designer Henrik Vibskov – The Shaker system collection is hung on white walls like art in a museum, and proposes an alternative way of showcasing clothes outside the confines of a closet. Bumpy vidar caps, bags, soft woollen blankets and cushions, mirrors, and even leather magazine and newspaper holders are designed to be hung off “bars” inspired by Shaker peg rails, and come in a salmony pink, a forest green, black, and white colourways. 

For Raf, this is something completely different from fashion,” says Kvadrat’s accessories product developer, Stinne Knudsen, who worked closely with Simons on the collection for three years. “That’s something he enjoys, working differently, in a slower way.”

Despite their size, Simons believes these sculptural tableaus are versatile, and could work either in a huge home as a centrepiece or in a 35-square-metre apartment in Tokyo. “More than ever the home is the absolute centre of our lives and I wanted to create a system that would change it for the better,” he explains. “I am trained as an industrial designer, [but] just putting out beautiful products was not enough. I wanted to conceive something relevant to how we live today.” 

The Shaker system by Kvadrat and Raf Simons is available now.