Cristian Zuzunaga and Kvadrat: the power of the pixel

Cityscape fabric for Kvadrat by Cristian Zuzunaga

‘I want to challenge the idea of the Burberry check’

‘I look rough today’ says designer Cristian Zuzunaga as I take his photo. I’m thinking the opposite and immediately I say empathetically that I feel the same about myself. Although we are both feeling a little off-colour at this breakfast press launch, Zuzunaga’s designs and our surroundings are the perfect tonic to lift our spirits.

This new range of colourful pixelated designs for the Danish textile manufacturer Kvadrat are as captivating and playful as their designer is when explaining them. Zuzunaga’s designs communicate a love of modernism through the application of rudimentary right-angled geometric shapes that form their own architectural quality. Zuzunaga says he ‘grew up with post-modernism but when I discovered modernism through graphic design I thought wow.’

This Barcelona-born designer has skillfully married the warmth and colour of the Iberian peninsular with the cooler climate of Denmark, the home to Kvadrat – the textiles manufacture of choice for many architects and designers. The printed curtain fabrics represent the man-made cityscapes of Barcelona, New York and especially Shanghai where the adornment of buildings with LED screens have become commonplace and represent ‘fragments of our time’ according to Zuzunaga.

Educated in graphic design at the London College of Communication and the Royal College of Art, Zuzunaga has skillfully demonstrated his multi-disciplinary approach by applying basic design elements of colour, shape and line to textiles. In a collaboration with design consultancy Digital Tea, visitors to the showroom were greeted with a spectacular series of moving images based on Zuzunaga’s architectural-inspired designs.

Cristian Zuzunaga at the Kvadrat showroom, London

Kvadrat stands alongside Louis Poulsen and Fritz Hansen as international exponents of the Danish design ethos. Kvadrat’s confidence in their product and the way it is communicated is reinforced through controlled brand management by Peter Saville of Factory Records fame. Saville’s recommendation for architect David Adjaye to design Kvadrat’s showroom on the fringe of Shoreditch illustrates the level of investment Danish brands like Kvadrat place in design to add value to their businesses.

Adjaye has removed part of the Victorian warehouse floor to create a staircase down to the basement. The resulting atrium hints at the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, and provides the necessary height required to hang meters of back-lit curtain fabric designed by Zuzunaga. The coloured glass panels that form the bannister are Saville’s homage to the pixelated squares on the Power Corruption and Lies album cover he designed for New Order.

Graphic design, architecture, interior and textile design all converge in Kvadrat’s design emporium where – to use Zuzunaga’s words – design becomes a ‘playful interpretation of reality’.

Fire, Cristian Zuzunaga for Kvadrat

This article was written for the London Design Festival Blog

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