There is in Denmark a certain given that the well being of the community and the environment are central to having an ethical life. That cultural concern for society and justice influences Danish citizens from early on. When Kathrine Gran Hartvigsen talks about the brand, AYTM, that she and her husband, Per, launched, it is with reverence for the weavers who make the rugs that this luxury home interior company sells. So it was only natural, she says, that Aarhus, Denmark-based AYTM should join GoodWeave®. Of those important principles that AYTM and GoodWeave share, Kathrine says simply, “It is just the way I am and we are in Denmark.”
Kathrine and partner and husband Per Gran Hartvigsen, are not new to the world of textile and design. The couple spent two and a half years in Bangladesh as agents for a Danish garment company. Their already passionate interest in design and aesthetics was fired up by those years spent in Asia, as was their desire to have their own company. “We took a chance when we finally left Bangladesh and our jobs to go out on our own,” she says of the birth of their first project, the home interior design and import company, GRAN LIVING. The success of GRAN LIVING in the home accessory field encouraged the creative couple to launch their own brand, AYTM that specializes in luxury home interior products for the entire home.
Among AYTM’s products is a line of 100% New Zealand wool, handmade rugs “STILLA” and “CONTRA.” Kathrine says the couple had wanted to explore the weaving crafts and feature rugs for their clients for quite a while. AYTM offered the opportunity and there was a lot to learn about all the techniques of the craft that they had decided to feature, Kathrine says. Even now she is still amazed at the work that goes into each rug. There is something special about carpets, she says. “They are ‘hygge’ (Danish for ‘cozy’). That’s the feeling they give.”
Although the craft itself is centuries old, the AYTM rugs are distinctively modern. Like the brand’s other home products the rugs are an international take on Nordic design with all the simplicity and elegance that comes with a Scandinavian aesthetic. Another principle that drives AYTM rug design is the desire for unconventionality. “We didn’t want to be too mainstream,” Kathrine says. That explains AYTM’s unusually shaped, “STILLA”, a drop shaped hand tufted, wool rug. Another experiment was to use rose for the rug, which as Katherine points out, is not “trendy”. This particular hue of rose, however, she says, has a sheen, which makes it decidedly more modern. “I even have one in my dining room,” she says laughing, “and I’m not a rose kind of girl!”
Producing the unorthodox shaped “STILLA” has been exciting and, as it turns out, commercially successful. That said, Kathrine admits that although AYTM does not want to be “normal”, it is still a balancing act to be interesting and original and at the same time, have a broad market appeal. Part of that balancing act is that AYTM also carries a very modern, but very traditional Nordic style rug, “CONTRA”. “CONTRA”, which is rectangular, is an understated, luxurious wool mix in tones of gray and bordeaux.
The CONTRA rugs were the first AYTM rugs to become GoodWeave certified and in the future AYTM customers will find the entire rug collection certified, including their iconic STILLA rugs.
Although Kathrine and Per have had a long history working in Asia and with textiles, producing rugs has introduced them to a new craft which, Kathrine says, still astonishes her. “There are so many techniques!” She is full of admiration for the weavers and is grateful for the opportunity to give them her business and at the same time through her membership in GoodWeave, help the children, she says. “The children are, after all, the future.”