Asa and Calle Henzel–founders of the custom rug company byHenzel based in Gothenberg, Sweden–never stop experimenting with color, texture and shape. Their avant-garde wool and silk, hand knotted and hand tufted rugs are found not only in private homes, but also in boutique hotels, diplomats’ residences and public buildings such as the New York Public Library. ByHenzel’s success with architects, designers and art collectors is heady stuff, but when it comes to serving justice, the Henzel’s feet are planted firmly on the ground. They have always supported children’s rights and been active in Swedish children’s charities, so joining GoodWeave® was a natural decision. For both Asa and Calle, it is simply unimaginable that someone could purchase a rug made with child labor. “Absolutely everyone who works with rug manufacturers should have a certification,” Asa says firmly.
The couple comes to rug design from art and fashion backgrounds. Asa, a technical designer, worked in the fashion industry and Calle was and is a highly sought after painter. The idea of rugs as a medium for Calle’s paintings and collages fascinated and challenged the couple. “Could we make the same collages experimenting with different piles and gradations of colors?” they asked themselves. “And could we experiment in this medium as interestingly as we have in the plastic arts?” The answer was “yes” in both cases, so the process of research and invention for the byHenzel rug collections has never ended.
Perhaps their boldest experiment to date is the one that led to their groundbreaking collection “Diamond Dust/Nordic Raw.” The couple produced a series of rugs, took them to northern Sweden, and left them outside to be worked upon by the sun, snow and wind. They returned seasonally to examine how the weathered rugs were becoming more interesting in color, texture and design. The shredded leaves on the rugs in fall produced “Frozen Dyama & Dyama Giardino Melt Edition” The ice and snow on the rugs in winter inspired “Nobu Nordic Windswept.”
The bold raw edges of many pieces in the collection imitates the toll severe weather took on the rugs over the year.
Of course, the dark and frozen winters of northern Sweden aren’t the only places the Henzels look for designs. “We really love cities!” says Asa with excitement in her voice. New York and Hong Kong–with their crowds, riotous colors, skyscrapers and street art–are among their favorites. That urban energy is found in byHenzel’s “745 New York/Milano” and “Paparazzi Vegas Lucy.”
After seeing these edgy designs it should come as no surprise that Calle, once part of the DJ collective French Friends, says house music and jazz permeate the byHenzel studio. The “Memento From Second Session” series has a Warhol-like take on LP album covers. The artist’s imagination is nourished on contemporary music, the work of artists like Jack Pierson and Marilyn Minter, and the bold and colorful paintings of Mickalene Thomas with whom Calle collaborated at Art Basel.
It seems as though there isn’t anything the team of Asa and Calle Henzel won’t take on to push the boundaries of the rug medium in the 21st century. And it is equally clear that there is nothing they won’t do to further the cause of eradicating child labor in the 21st century. Asa says, “Anyone who has children of their own knows this kind of treatment of children is completely unacceptable!”
Learn more about byHenzel rugs at www.byHenzel.com.