Dezeen Magazine

Kvadrat showroom by Peter Saville and David Adjaye

Graphic designer Peter Saville and architect David Adjaye have collaborated to design a new London showroom for Danish fabric producers Kvadrat, which opened yesterday.


Located in a former Victorian factory, the showroom includes a staircase with coloured-glass balustrade, which will also be used as seating for viewing projections on the opposite wall.


Downstairs, a kitchen and dining room are furnished with bespoke concrete tables.


Photos are by Ed Reeve.

The following information is from Kvadrat:


London flagship showroom

19 March 2009 we open a new flagship showroom in London

The new space is double the size of Kvadrats's previous building in Holland Park. In addition to offering a showroom, the 400 m2 location will also server as our headquarter and offices in UK


The showroom is a product of an unusual collaboration between the legendary graphic designer and art director Peter Saville and acclaimed architect David Adjaye.


Design statements by David Adjaye and Peter Saville

Peter Saville, “The showroom is about making visitors feel that they’re entering the world of Kvadrat – there is a synergy between the place and its purpose which epitomizes their values. It’s human, welcoming and open. Colour, warmth and nature define the design concept and it’s very much purpose-led rather than market-led. What strikes me about Kvadrat is that they are cultured, free-thinking and supportive – this is why I enjoy working with them and therefore why I had no hesitation inviting David, who I greatly admire, to work on this project.”


David Adjaye continues: “The initial discussions with Peter were about the fact that this wasn’t just meant to be a conventional showroom but a design hub. We wanted to create a place for both stimulation and the incubation of ideas about design and also a destination that people would use on a regular basis – a social space – and this very much fits with Kvadrat’s philosophy and values. It’s all about hospitality, communication and dialogue.


Interpreting the Kvadrat brand architecturally, we’ve taken a very unusual plot and turned it around. The classic corporate showroom style would be to have the staff in the basement and the displays above. Here, the staff are at the top in a very light-filled space. We removed part of the floor in order to create a dramatic, singular hall-like space, which will be used for events: a place to showcase ideas etc. The central staircase has always played a very important part in architectural design. In the Kvadrat building it’s not just a means of going up and down but is almost like a piece of furniture and a place to sit to view film screenings and projections on the wall opposite. The stairway is lined with a spectrum-coloured glass balustrade, again using light and colour, recognising their importance in design, perception and obviously their relevance to Kvadrat.


The area at the foot of the staircase is like a grand living room with an open kitchen and dining area with bespoke concrete tables. We gave a great deal of consideration to the emphasis that Kvadrat places on entertaining, particularly through cooking for people and this strategy also references the idea of The House, which very much defines their HQ in Ebeltoft.

It was very much Peter’s idea for us to work with Kvadrat and he was involved in early discussions about the space – and was instrumental in giving us the context of Kvadrat and articulating the brand. Peter also acted as a sounding board, for example on certain important design elements e.g. the coloured glass. Also through conversations with Peter, we understood the importance of leaving space, which can be curated by Peter (or guest curators) to showcase art, design and moving images – creative endeavours that Kvadrat actively supports. It was also essential that Kvadrat can display the artist/designer special projects that it commissions.”

David Adjaye and Peter Saville design London flagship showroom for Kvadrat

Kvadrat, the leading Danish supplier of textile and textile–related products for interiors, will open a new flagship showroom in London on 19 March 2009 to complement its other major showrooms in Milan, Stockholm and Copenhagen (opening 14 May 2009). “Over the last ten years our business in London has quadrupled,” Anders Byriel, Kvadrat CEO explains. “Having a presence in London is very important for us. I would say it’s the only ‘mega city’ and the most important international centre now for the architecture and design community.”

The new space is double the size of Kvadrat’s previous building in Holland Park. In addition to offering a showroom, the 400m2 location, in Shepherdess Walk, Shoreditch, will also serve as the brand’s UK headquarters and offices.

The choice of location was also made in response to the architects and designers – Kvadrat’s primary clientele – who are increasingly relocating to this area of London.

The showroom is a product of an unusual collaboration between the legendary graphic designer and art director Peter Saville and acclaimed architect David Adjaye.

Peter Saville’s relationship with Kvadrat began five years ago when he was appointed to rework the company’s graphic identity. Since then his role has evolved into a communications consultant for the brand. Working on the new showroom was therefore a natural extension of this collaboration, since, “Kvadrat’s showrooms are a portal into the culture of the company,” he explains.

“Peter had a very strong impact on us,” Byriel adds. “His art direction has always been so convincing. We wanted to extend our co-operation with him since he has been someone who has been important for us philosophically. One of his key insights has been to view the business like an institution in a positive sense; there is so much content in what we’re doing – a Kvadrat showroom is like a public institution where art works are presented and discussed.”

The choice of architect needed careful consideration, given that many of Kvadrat’s clients are also architects. As Peter Saville explains, it needed to be someone who wouldn’t “polarise opinion.” Peter Saville, who was already an admirer of David Adjaye’s work, approached him for the discreet innovation he could bring to the project. “Adjaye has a very light touch,” the designer explains, adding: “He seems to know where he can push the boundaries and where to be sensible.”

“David Adjaye’s work is very subtle and understated and that ends up in very convincing aesthetics,” Byriel adds. “David has a very strong understanding of how to alter spaces. By taking out one level of the building he has really transformed the space and exceeded our expectations.”

The showroom, which is housed in a former Victorian Factory, operates on two levels, with office spaces on the ground floor with the showroom located on the basement level. A key element of David Adjaye’s solution, to what was a challenging space, was to remove a large part of the floor between the two stories, allowing for a dramatic staircase, which is a central feature of the building.

Flexibility, and creating a context for showcasing colour, were two key considerations in the design of the space, which also reflects Kvadrat’s brand values.

The relative simplicity of the showroom creates a perfect backdrop for exhibitions, as well as projections and screenings. To that end, Peter Saville is in the process of developing film projects for the space.

One, a typographic piece about colour, will feature, “words we use for colours but which aren’t colours.” A selection of films which echo the notion of colour in their titles, such as Blue Velvet or Grey Gardens is also planned.

The Scandinavian tradition of hospitality is extremely important to Kvadrat. The space is designed to be sociable, offering a kitchen and custom-made concrete tables, which can seat up to thirty people.

Kvadrat enjoys close relationships with its clients and places a big emphasis on hosting weekly social events. In Denmark, the Kvadrat head office is called ‘Et Hus’ (the house), and the London showroom will embrace this spirit of sharing and togetherness.

Colour is a central element to Kvadrat’s textiles. This is reflected in a key design element: a glass balustrade, featuring the colours of the spectrum, which lines the stairway. This feature is also a playful nod from David Adjaye to Peter Saville’s iconic record sleeve design for New Order’s Blue Monday, which famously did not print the title or the band’s name, but used blocks of colour as a code with which to transmit them.

Peter Saville was involved in choosing many of the colour accents, particularly focusing on the selection of fabrics. He chose to work with Kvadrat’s famous Hallingdal fabrics, in kaleidoscopic colours, for the chair coverings in the office space. Each chair is a different colour, allowing staff flexibility and choice.

“Lots of projects don’t allow room for individuals to enter in,” Peter Saville explains. “We were concerned with the fact that people have to work there every day, so we needed a bit of everyday pragmatism. We were not trying to make an architectural statement but create something that is fit for the purpose, and a key element with this space was to allow room for interpretation.”

Showroom address
10 Shepherdess Walk
London N1 7LB

Kvadrat was established in Denmark in 1968 and now holds a leading position in the European market of design-textiles supplying renowned architects, designers and furniture manufacturers throughout the world, for use in upholstery and curtains. The company continuously seeks to push the aesthetic, technological and artistic boundaries of textiles, working with a roster of the world’s top designers, architects and artists including Alfredo Häberli, Peter Saville, Akira Minagawa, Tord Boontje, David Adjaye and Olafur Eliasson.

Kvadrat fabrics have been used in some of the world’s most intriguing architectural developments such as The Gherkin, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles; Reichstag, Berlin; Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao; Copenhagen Opera House, Denmark; Yves St. Laurent, Paris and the new Opera House in Oslo.

The new London showroom will complement Kvadrat’s existing international showrooms which include Milan, designed by Alfredo Häberli, Stockholm, designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and Copenhagen, also designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, which is due to open in May 2009.