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From silken stories to timeless tapestries

Rooted in Borås, Sweden’s textile mecca, Lena Jiseborn’s journey has always been intertwined with the rich fabric of design. From influencing hand-knitting trends in the 80s to shaping interiors at Saab and Volvo Cars, her trajectory eventually led her to Kasthall. Here, under the overarching legacy of the ‘Queen of Rugs’, Gunilla Lagerhem Ullberg, Jiseborn stepped in as the Design Director in 2015.

Her profound reverence for heritage, combined with a keen eye for innovation, mirrors the values that we at TypeO hold dear. This synergy made us eager to delve deeper into her creative realm, leading to our candid conversation with Jiseborn, which we are thrilled to share with you.

Lena Jiseborn Kasthall
Lena Jiseborn Kasthall

The Kasthall Design Studio in Kinna, Sweden, is a place where creativity is at the centre of the design process. Can you describe what a typical day in the studio looks like?

In our design studio at Kasthall, there’s no such thing as a typical day. Continuously, we evolve our collection, introducing new designs and revitalising established ones with fresh colours. This ongoing process culminates in four major releases throughout the year. Besides our collection, we work closely with architects and designers who approach Kasthall to realise their unique design visions. The proximity to our production facility is invaluable, with our tufting machines and looms literally next door, streamlining our creative process.

Driven by a desire to make the world more beautiful, we move from inspiration collages to selecting yarns, colour compositions and prototyping. Our intimate, hands-on process means that from initial concept to final product, it usually takes about a year. Interestingly, only about a third to a quarter of our initial designs make it into the final collection.

Lena Jiseborn Kasthall

While we might not veer towards Barbie-pink, we’re eager to dabble in diverse colour palettes.

Lena Jiseborn Kasthall
Lena Jiseborn Kasthall

Kasthall rugs are crafted with a focus on quality, beauty and durability. Can you share some insights into the thought and design process behind designing a rug that will meet these high standards?

At Kasthall, the foundation of our rugs lies in sourcing the very best raw materials. We exclusively use natural fibres, specifically wool and linen. The wool hails from New Zealand, and our linen grows in Normandie. These fibres are chosen for their superior quality and length. After selection, they are processed and spun into yarn in Germany and Italy. Kasthall boasts a rich design tradition, with an in-house design department that’s been active since 1954.

Throughout our history, we’ve consistently championed timeless design. Inspiration for our creations often comes from art, fashion and interior design. Yet, we also draw from our own rich design heritage, with an extensive archive filled with sketches, product samples and historical yarns. Additionally, the stunning natural beauty surrounding us serves as a continual source of inspiration. Designing our rugs is akin to crafting fine wine – beginning with the best grapes, cultivated in the most optimal soil, nurtured and aged to perfection.

Lena Jiseborn Kasthall

Can you highlight your personal favourites – rugs that encapsulate the brand’s heritage and craftsmanship?

Choosing a favourite rug is truly a challenge as there are many that I deeply admire. Among the many rugs that embody Kasthall’s essence, a few stand out for their distinct character.

The Harvest rug, woven from residual yarns from our production, showcases a melange of colours, with each piece being uniquely distinct, symbolising our sustainability ethos. The Feather rug, with its intriguing bouclé base framed by a long, feathery fringe, encapsulates our playful yet elegant design philosophy. Poetry, a woven masterpiece, resonates an essence through its intricate chenille yarn details, exemplifying our artisanal craftsmanship. Lastly, the Karusell rug was reimagined to celebrate the 100th birthday of Kasthall’s first chief designer, Ingrid Dessau, capturing both the brand’s legacy and her design brilliance. Each rug tells its own story, revealing the layers of our brand’s commitment to design, heritage and the art of rug-making.

Lena Jiseborn Kasthall
Lena Jiseborn Kasthall

Kasthall has collaborated with some of the world’s most prominent designers and architects. What do you look for when choosing a partner for a collaboration?

Our collaborations with global designers and architects are more than just partnerships; they’re a journey of shared values and aspirations. We gravitate towards those who mirror our brand’s ethos and have a kindred spirit. Renowned names like David Chipperfield and Ilse Crawford resonate not just for their design acumen but for their meticulous attention to detail and a deep appreciation for the material’s integrity.

Collaborative journeys often begin with immersive visits to our factory in Kinna. Here, we delve into our rich archives, engage in dynamic workshops, and draw inspiration from the nuances of nature and art. This mutual exchange of ideas not only enriches our legacy but also challenges us, pushing our boundaries and encouraging innovation. Kasthall thrives on such challenges, seeing them as opportunities to infuse fresh perspectives while celebrating the essence of craftsmanship and design.

Lena Jiseborn Kasthall

Kasthall’s rugs are made to last a lifetime. Can you tell us about the sustainability initiatives or practices in place at Kasthall to make this possible?

Our rugs are designed not just to adorn spaces but to endure for lifetimes. This commitment begins with our choice of the very best raw materials and the highest quality yarns, resulting in rugs that are both stable and durable. This inherent quality is reinforced by the dedication of our team and the significant hands-on craftsmanship that each rug undergoes. Our design ethos is guided by a philosophy echoed by Sven Lundh, the founder of Källemo [editor’s note: a Swedish design brand], which is that our designs should “withstand the eye’s wear and tear”, ensuring they remain timeless and perpetually appealing.

Our responsibility extends beyond just the creation of the rug. We’re committed to its entire lifecycle. We provide our customers with personalised advice on caring for their rug, from understanding colourfastness to the nuances of pigments. If, over the years, a rug shows signs of wear, we are on hand to assist with repairs and restorations. Additionally, we offer recommendations on the most suitable methods and venues for having the rug professionally cleaned, ensuring it retains its beauty throughout its lifespan.

Lena Jiseborn Kasthall

Looking ahead, what are some influences you’re excited to explore in future Kasthall designs?

Looking into the future, sustainability remains at the core of Kasthall’s vision. We believe in continuous innovation in this domain, never resting on our laurels but constantly seeking new methods and avenues. Flipping conventional ideas on their head and challenging the norms excites us. We champion the ethos of ‘less but better’, with a particular interest in local sourcing and design that resonates at a deeper level, appealing to both the eyes and the soul.

In the short term, colour is where our enthusiasm lies. Given the current global landscape, there’s a longing to embrace vibrant hues that uplift and invigorate. While we might not veer towards Barbie-pink, we’re eager to dabble in diverse colour palettes. Drawing inspiration from the legacies of Gunilla Lagerhem Ullberg and Ingrid Dessau, we aim to propel Kasthall’s designs into a realm that marries the past’s heritage with the vivacity of the present.

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