In 2006, after 20 years as an independent design consultant, Kristie Strasen founded Place Textiles, a collection of her own designs. Herman Miller recently announced an alliance with Place that provides 16 new fabrics for its Classic seating designs.
How did you get started in textile design? I’ve always been interested in fabrics as an avocation, but my undergraduate degree was in English, and I actually taught high school English for three years. Then I traveled to Ireland to do research on folklore. While I was traveling, I became captivated by the weaving that was happening in Ireland at the time. I’d go down a country road and hear this clacking sound, and people were sitting there weaving. I absolutely fell in love with it.
I sent home all my research on folklore, and I traveled to the Orkney and Shetland Islands, through Yugoslavia and Turkey, into Iran and Afghanistan to see the weaving. When I got home, I went back to school and got a graduate degree in textiles.
Describe Place Textiles. Place is really about color, texture, and durable luxury. I love systems of color that integrate well; the entire Place line is organized around a clear color matrix.
I wanted the company to be about the integrity of the woven structure, and I wanted the fabrics always to enhance the sculptural characteristics of the furniture. So the focus of our company is very much in tune with Herman Miller, and in fact, companies like Herman Miller inspired me to start a company like Place—to create fabrics that enhance the seating rather than competing with it.
What does this alliance bring to Herman Miller’s fabric lines? Place provides Herman Miller with a little more upscale choice for its customers. All our fabrics are woven with yarns that have a huge amount of integrity. For example, wool is a fantastic fiber with characteristics that make it ideal for certain types of upholstery. One of the new fabrics, Balmory, is a beautiful nubby wool bouclé. It’s yarn-dyed, not piece dyed, so there’s a tremendous amount of nuance in the color. It will provide really good performance and the durability that a Herman Miller customer would absolutely expect.
There’s a wide range of neutrals in this collection, but where we have color, there’s no timidity about it, so we have some wonderful reds, some bright greens, some oranges.
I feel such a strong affinity with what I’m trying to do with Place and what Miller’s been doing all these years. For me, it’s about the integrity of the woven structure; for Herman Miller it’s about the integrity of the structure of the furniture.
Second photo courtesy of Jean Lin, otto architecture + design