Most collections are sparked by an outside inspiration. It could be a historic chapel, an expressive watercolor, the waves of the sea at sunrise. That wasn’t the case this time for Christiane Müller. As the Amsterdam-based designer and partner at Müller she turned inward to ask: What had driven her throughout her 30-year career? “I thought I would like to do something inspired by the idea of textile itself—the making of it,” she says.
Christiane immersed herself in the techniques makers have used over the millennia, from weaving to quilting to embroidery. She pored over historical texts to learn how they developed, where, and why. Quilting, for example, arrived in Europe in the 12th century. Crusaders brought the technique back from the Middle East after realizing the padded fabric worn under their armor would both keep them warm and offer additional protection.
Beyond the research, Christiane dug deep into her own memory, too. The first textile she remembers is a plaid wool blanket her family took everywhere—nestled in the back of a sleigh in the German countryside, tucked in the car on a road trip, spread out on the forest floor. It’s a fabric that shaped her childhood. And in her latest collection with HBF Textiles, appropriately titled Lost & Found, she set out to create seven new materials that would shape the lives of countless others.
Ancient But Modern
Christiane says this collection is not meant to be sentimental or about the past. While the materials pay homage to the traditions she’s studied, they’re crafted by modern mills. HBF Textiles worked with six different manufacturers around the world for this collection, each one utilizing the latest textile technology. For Christiane, this fusion of old and new is essential. Throughout the design process, her question was always: How could we transform this and put it into now?
While synthetic materials were once scorned in corners of the design community, today they’re appreciated for their performance and sustainability. That’s certainly the case in this collection, says Mary Jo Miller, vice president of design and creative direction for HBF Textiles. “The mills created fabrics that look like they were handmade,” she says. Christiane’s creativity and knowledge got our mill partners onboard.” As a result, the fabrics are durable, easy to clean, and suitable for various types of applications, from wrapped panels to upholstery to drapery.
For many design applications, it’d be prohibitively expensive to source handmade knits and quilts. But Christiane doesn’t feel materials of the highest quality and artisanship should be available only for those able to spend a lot of money. By crafting fabrics in a mill, HBF Textiles is able to create an industrial manufactured collection that’s affordable yet has the character of a custom piece.
So much comes back to relationships, in this collection as in life. Mary Jo says mills wouldn’t custom-die yarns for just anyone. But because Christiane is a world-renowned color expert, they were willing to take the plunge into new hues. When you look at the colors together, from earthy hazelnut to turmeric to delicate rose hip, they’re all part of a common family, one rooted in the natural world but at home in the modern one. And there’s just enough variation to give them character. “When I see something totally perfect, it doesn’t appeal to me if it was made by a human,” Christiane says. It’s that balance between craft and science that gives the collection its soul.
This article originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Sixtysix with the headline “Christiane Müller.” Subscribe today.
Produced by Studio Sixtysix
Words by Margaret Poe
Photos by Went&Navarro
Studio Sixtysix is the in-house creative agency to Sixtysix magazine. Studio Sixtysix stories are conceived, produced, and edited by Studio Sixtysix.