Can you even talk about home right now without mentioning the pandemic? Nobody used to be at home 24 hours a day, and the very definition of home has changed. British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes and IKEA designer Paulin Machado are no exceptions. When we had a virtual sit-down together, each of us still at home, to talk about the work with the coming KARISMATISK collection, they both agreed that it is a matter of quality of life to have a home that brings both wellness, fun, and also expresses who you are.
“Home furnishing to me is dressing your home. Instead of dressing your body, you surround yourself with things that make you happy, particularly in the times we live through now. I have an emotional affinity with colour; having it literally take over my surroundings makes me feel happy,” says Zandra.
Together with Zandra Rhodes, IKEA decided to explore how her vibrant style and bold patterns can be designed in an IKEA home context with unique and expressive pieces where fashion and function go hand in hand. Zandra and IKEA designer Paulin Machado first met a year ago in London, and a few weeks later, Zandra and her team came over to Sweden bringing bags full of pleated fabrics, prints and jewellery.
Zandra and Paulin at a workshop early in the project.
Paulin: “I recently looked at the photos I took when you were here, Zandra, and realized that the KARISMATISK collection we created looks very much like our very first ideas. Pretty much everything we doodled down resulted in a product.”
After working with fashion for over 50 years, what is the difference working with an IKEA collection, Zandra?
Zandra: “It is like coming home. My training was actually wallpapers, home décor fabrics and carpets. When I tried to sell my textiles, nobody wanted to buy them, they were too extreme. Then I put the patterns together on dresses and learned to make lovely shapes. You know, I got into fashion to use my textiles, and now, doing this with IKEA, it’s a dream come true to be able to dress things at home.”
What does fashion mean to you, Paulin?
”Fashion is innovative and expresses something about the times we live in. Fashion for me is also about dressing up and being different characters depending on the mood. I love that part and have enjoyed it since I was a kid. The way you dress can make you feel more empowered and comfortable. There are, of course, certain things I have always loved, like the robe and slippers with a lot of junk. Maybe not always functional, but they make you feel glamorous and in your own space.”
Zandra: “I think that’s a lovely way of putting it. When spending more time at home you can make your dressing gown and your robe more important. You don’t just slouch around, and you actually accent the things in your home, which is fun. I think it is important to dress up for moral!”
Paulin: “Exactly! Then I feel ready for the day.”
Zandra: “Then you are ready for the day, ready for what might happen and not be worn down by circumstances but create the atmosphere, so you feel good and can approach the world.”
Paulin: “It’s the same thing with our home. Some people wear a lot of jewellery and others less. Zandra has many attention makers in her design, and that is what I feel we have done with the KARISMATISK collection. It’s still up to the customer if they want one cushion to bring a spark of life or do the whole Zandra package in a lovely way. Zandra has taught us how to combine different patterns and that it’s not always enough with two patterns. You need a third and a fourth!”
The candle tray and candlestick you have designed together. Describe how they are both IKEA and Zandra?
Zandra: “When we came over to Sweden, we brought different bits of pleating, and it was magical because of Paulin’s knowledge of what could be done, we worked out how those could be practically turned into products for the IKEA customers.”
Did you see a candle tray and a candlestick immediately?
Paulin: “When you google Zandra, you will see the runways and all the dresses. However, Zandra also brought a lot of jewellery made of pleated metal, fantastic collars, and that started everything. We went a little crazy there! Do you remember the pleated glass bowl with two arms, Zandra? One of the technicians got worried and whispered to me to think about the production too!”
“You want to brainstorm like everything is possible, but of course, there is a reality.”
Zandra: “It is always a balance. You want to brainstorm like everything is possible, but of course, there is a reality. It is fashion adapted to different things, given different functions and Paulin’s knowledge of what we could do with it where to turn to develop it was essential.”
Are you happy with the result?
Zandra: “I love it! Colour makes me feel very good, it definitely does, and I don’t think people should be frightened of colour. You can use a little bit of it, so you don’t have to feel you’ve been punched with colour. People are going to be able to have exciting touches that will make their lives feel lively.”
Paulin: “Any piece of the KARISMATISK collection has the power to enhance and enrich any space in any home. For those who love mixing, matching and clashing patterns – this collection will tickle you pink. If you are still working up the courage to go full-pattern – this collection is for you, too!”
We asked Zandra and Paulin to prepare questions for each other. This is what they were curious about:
Zandra: India is such a special place to me, as you know, and I know you lived in India working with IKEA. How did it inspire and dictate your working process, ethics, and design aesthetic? What have you taken from living in India that you use day-to-day in Sweden?
Paulin: “Cooking with chilli! Another thing we started to love is the tradition of using stainless steel for cooking and eating. It was a fantastic way of making a product last forever, and we brought a lot back with us. For me, it was also being able to visit suppliers, professional people who know their craft. You don’t need to speak the language because you can speak through crafting techniques.”
Paulin: I’m curious to know if you strive for inner Zen and what is it for you? I see you as the ultimate entrepreneur — your home and business are one with people constantly around you.
Zandra: “I’m driven by something, but I think of Zen as having some form of inner peace, and I wouldn’t define myself as someone with inner peace. I’d say that I’m a person that loves other people. I also love my home, and I’m most at peace when I’m drawing. I could lose myself in drawing. I was drawing dead leaves the other day that had fallen on my terrace. I always bring my book and my felt pens.”