Christoph Hefti makes - and lives with - exuberant rugs and textiles inspired by magic realism and Latin American design.
WHEN THE SWISS textile designer and artist Christoph Hefti aworked for the Belgian fashion designer Dries Van Noten in Antwerp from the late 1990s to 2010, he was involved in many stages of the process, from fabric design to budgets to collaboration with Italian engravers. "It was gratifying," says Hefti. "As a member of the team, we built a vision with a lot of focus and mutual understanding. " When Hefti left the company to become self-employed, he eventually became frustrated - he did. is found alongside Van Noten 's holistic approach: "I design the fabric but someone else develops it in the final product, and I started to realize that it was not sufficient. I wanted to do something that was completely mine. "
In an attempt to recharge his batteries, hearque in 2011 for a five-week trip to Latin America, from Argentina to Mexico; wherever he traveled he noticed rugs, which were ubiquitous and had been created primarily for tourism purposes. “All were sized to fit in a suitcase,” he says, “and in tourist markets they all looked more or less alike. ” But one day in La Paz, Bolivia, he spotted an unusual carpet , of an unexpected abstraction, which seemed to have been pleated in a pattern of waves inflected by Art Deco. When questioned, the seller of the shop told him that it had been woven by "a crazy mountain woman who never plays by the rules," he recalls. "She said she only bought the rug because she felt sorry for her." I bought it immediately, and that's when I knew I wanted to make rugs. " Image In the entrance hall, the Skeleton rug by Hefti (2016) and its wooden pouf (2020), covered with printed cotton viscose. Credit ... Frederic ik Buyckx Image A Metrò lamp by Piovenefabi, next to a chair in the shape of a hand. Credit ... Frederik Buyckx
Hefti, 54, shares this story from the dining room table of her 750 square foot apartment in the Saint-Gilles district of Brussels. the size of the apartment, each small room becauseree - a bedroom, kitchen, and living / dining room - resembles an immersive theater set, filled with vibrant custom textiles, curtains hanging from several windows that line the front of the five-story Beaux-Arts building in Paris. carpets, which cover almost every inch of the wooden floor. he living room, dominated by a wildly overgrown dragon tree and a Monstera deliciosa plant, a large rectangular rug depicts six huge blue hands throwing and catching lemons. "For a while, I continued to draw landscapes [which were] indirectly inspired by all the magical realism I read while traveling through Latin America," Hefti explains. Besides the rugs, the shelves and fireplaces are lined with ceramic objects, including French tea sets from the 1970s and thick-glazed ceramic sculptures made by his friend the Belgian ceramist Gregory Georgescu . Image In Hefti's dining room," Scared Bunnies "(2020) by Gregory Georgescu, on an oak painting by Sophie Nys. Hefti designed the limited edition hand-knotted rug World Mask (2014 ). Credit ... Frederik Buyckx Image Hefti's Inside the Bird (2019) printed cotton canvas hangs over her bed, which is covered with Scissors, a quilt of silk scarves that 'he manufactured in 1989. Credit ... Frederik Buyckx
WELL AS South America that inspired his now eight-year-old carpet business, Hefti produces his pieces in Nepal, with two craft businesses run by descendants of Tibetan exiles who live in Kathmandu. “There is always an exchange,” he says of his makers. “I come up with a design, and we discuss the technical possibilities from there. The pieces are sold in the Brussels design gallery Maniera , which is co-owned by two friends of Hefti, Amaryllis Jacobs and Kwinten Lavigne. “Rugs are an explosion of colors and textures, but they're not just about beauty. There is alwayssomething disturbing about them, ”Jacobs says, referring to their eerily realistic designs, which include human faces and wild animals.
Most of the Hefti's creative work is finished in his studio in a converted industrial warehouse on the Brussels canal, but he spends his free time between his apartment and a place he keeps in Zurich. The designer regularly commutes between the two cities by train, stopping in Paris to create textiles for fashion houses like Mugler. Switzerland is where he takes care of himself while swimming in Lake Zurich, while Brussels is "the interesting and messy place that inspires my work." I meet creatives, make unexpected encounters, work until 11 p.m. and eat fries for dinner. The city's avant-garde theater and dance scene regularly influences his work, includingcontemporary dance troupe shows Ultima Vez and performance artists Diederik Peeters and Miet Warlop , both merge elements of horror and absurd in their practices. Image Hefti seated on a vintage chair, resting on his Fox Rug (2019), which was hand-knotted in Tibet. Credit ... Frederik Buyckx Image In the living room, a hand-woven Oaxacan rug hangs in the fireplace; above the fireplace hangs an unstretched painted canvas of an abstract tree that Hefti picked up at a flea market. Credit ... Frederik Buyckx Image Hefti designed the curtain in cotton velor print, Landscape (2020), shown here. The scarf above the fireplace is by Sonnhild Kestler. Credit ... Frederik Buyckx
At the end of last year, Hefti held his own exhibition at the gallery of Dries Van Noten, Little House, attached to the brand's new boutique in Los Angeles. In addition to his rugs, Hefti created a surreal curtain with parts of the face floating in the woods and ottomans upholstered in fabrics in psychedelic colors, all now set up in her living room. The exhibit allowed Hefti to fully manifest her vision, and was made all the sweeter by the fact that she was facilitated by her mentor. "I look around. of me now and I see that I have built an object space entirely of my own making, "he says, adding that despite his recent success, he still views his rugs as" monsters on the floor with which you become buddies. These are often the strangest items in an apartment - but I have found that rugs befriended therest of the room very quickly. "