The designer, Solvejg Makaretz, has a passion for modern patterns, bright colors, vivid graphics and she wants to share it with the world. She is an architect that has turned her passion into her day job. She studied Textile Design and Techniques at Polhemskolan in Lund; Fine Arts at Konstskolan in Kristianstad; and Ethnology at University of Lund before starting her architectural degree at the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts. She later received her Masters of Architecture from University of Pennsylvania. All this studying and training has set her up to be a successful home textile designer, so after spending more than 25 years as a licensed architect, she started a home décor design business.
She grew up in Scandinavia, and her work reflects that. Scandinavian culture is shaped by their natural surroundings. Winter is 9 months of the year, so their furniture & soft goods design echoes this harshness and beauty. The Scandinavian design style is known for high quality and minimalism mixed with a humble lifestyle.
From an early age, deeply caring about her surroundings was a natural attitude that was cultivated and encouraged. Solvejg grew up in a household where environmental preservation were cornerstones of everyday life and culture. While textiles can be made cheaply halfway across the world, Solvejg finds it wasteful. The use of so much fossil fuel to ship products to the US is unnecessary. Secondly, nurturing crafts and manufacturing in this country are also very important. These are two industries that have seen a huge decline in the last few decades and has left many parts of the country with the loss of jobs and the loss of manufacturing know how.
Solvejg has been in Maine for almost 17 years. She loves the woods and the abundance and proliferation of wildlife. Her love of the proximity to outdoor activities such as hiking, boating, skiing was the biggest enticement. There are a lot of similarities between the outdoors in Maine and the part of Sweden where she grew up.
As a result of the most recent recession, there were fewer opportunities in architecture in the northeast, which she calls home. So it was only natural to find other opportunities…just in case. Before she studied architecture, she studied textile design and techniques, fine arts and ethnology at the University in Sweden. She always loved making things – mostly textiles- knitting, sewing, weaving etc. Initially she ran her design shop and architectural business simultaneous. Once her product line expanded, her design business picked up steam. Naturally, she gravitated toward pursuing her design business full time. The idea of setting her own hours, being her own boss and working from her studio was too enticing to pass up. Solvejg enjoys making patterns and most recently delving into art-licensing. She exhibited several times at Surtex in New York city and at Heimtextil in Frankfurt, Germany. She has enjoyed many aspects of architecture and is still a registered architect, but is now happy that she gets to use more color!
To pay homage to her roots, she named her design studio after a little lake, called Tröskö, in the region of Sweden where she grew up. The studio has windows on three sides, so it’s very bright and cheerful, which helps with inspiration. Who wouldn’t feel inspired in a studio adjacent to a forest and surrounded by a garden while you can see neighborhood kids walking to and from school?
Solvejg’s designs start as small sketches on anything from napkins to graph-paper or the back of a receipt. She then transfers these idea into the graphics computer program using Adobe Illustrator. She comes up with new patterns all the time and continually asks family, design friends and retailers for their feedback. Most of her wholesale customers are located on the coast, so they prefer nautical themes, but for art-licensing, she can expand her creativity to designs like animals, florals, holiday themes, plants, birds, geos, etc. Her designs are bold and beautiful and the quality is unsurpassed.
Solvejg choses to work with cotton twill and linen fabrics for her pillows. Some of the fabrics she uses are supplied by her local print shop. The color-rendering qualities of these two fabrics are excellent, and she prefers the casual, yet, elegant look and feel of both materials. Some fabrics, like quilting fabrics can be a too thin. She typically doesn’t keep stock but keeps a detailed list of what she wholesales and what was sold at crafts shows the year before so she can forecast demand. Every few months she plans out her upcoming calendar based on the previous year.
She screen prints and digitally prints her pillows, depending on which design is used. The screen printing for her pillows is done twelve miles from her studio, so it’s very local. She would love to have all of her fabric screen printed, however the biggest difference in screen printing and digital printing is price. You pay for each color screen that you print when you screen print, so you have to limit the number of colors in the design or it becomes cost prohibitive. When printing digitally you can use any number of colors since all the colors are printed at once. Solvejg uses screen printing for limited runs or designs that only use a small number of colors. About 20% of her products are screen printed.
The digital printing is done in North Carolina. Press checks are a must before a large run of fabric is done. Solvejg works with the printer by checking a few samples at a time to make sure the screen and digital printing are exactly how the colors should look. Going from a computer design to the printer has its nuances, so adjustments in color and color combinations are a must when at the press. They make tweaks along the way to get it just right.
Over time the most popular colors have been the blue hues. Since getting the printing just right takes some time, she keeps some fabric in stock and adds to it at the beginning of the season. Solvejg briefly considered investing in a digital printer, but decided that she would rather concentrate on making more designs than learning a new trade and happily leaves the printing up to the pros.
The skill set that it takes to become an architect mirrors the skills needed to be a successful designer – drawing ability, and eye for detail, the ability to take your surroundings and translate it into functional, yet, artful design and lastly, creativity. The training she went through to become an architect has served her well as a designer today.
To see some of , please visit www.cottageandbungalow.com
Photo credit: Carol Liscovitz
Photo credit: Carol Liscovitz