Whether you’re calling it cheerful modern minimalism, langom (the Swedish attitude toward living a tidy, balanced life), or hygge (that buzzy Danish tendency to take pleasure from soothing things), the overwhelming urge to stay cuddled while keeping unnecessary clutter at bay is only growing stronger as the dead of winter keeps us parked on the couch.
“While it seems obviously trendy right now, I love the timeless philosophy behind making the best of long, dark winters and cozying up with friends and family,” enthuses Carly Martin, the New York-bred, Wicker Park-based artist and founder behind The Clementine Studio’s charming watercolor prints. “I wanted to create something tangible for years," she says. "I'm always cold with plenty of blankets on hand, especially now that I live in Chicago, so I had the idea of designing something functional that I could use to keep warm—and that could look pretty just sitting on a couch.”
Inspired to turn a tightly edited list of paper and ink creations into just that, Martin sought out a small, family-owned business in North Carolina that could transform her work into handwoven, 100% recycled cotton throws. Functioning as both a showpiece when perched like a tapestry on a wall or a cloud-soft blanket when draped over the shoulders, the final result lacks only a bad angle.
Not everyone may feel the need to collect paintings and sculptures, but these blankets serve as a well-designed home good that can be enjoyed every day.
“I can’t get over how well the watercolor translates to the woven cotton,” Martin notes of her vibrant pieces that range from a thoughtful Frida Kahlo surrounded by botanicals to a coyly posing tiger (which she displays on a wall in her living room). "One of my favorite aspects of these blankets is the flip side—it shows all of the different colored threads used to create the design and ends up being a beautiful reverse image.” Martin intentionally priced the blankets to sell, at under $100, as she tests out her dream project, with plans to expand into boutiques in 2018.
She isn't alone in her material instincts. Coming in toasty warm from the west coast, fellow artist K'era Morgan also launched a line of handwoven blankets from her collection of art prints this October under the label k-apostrophe (a subtly eponymous nod).
Blending her mixed-media collage, painting, and mark-making work with her love of textiles, Morgan’s fascination with global traditions worked its way into her hand-finished, American-made cotton throws. “Textiles from around the world are rich with culture and history—I like the cross section of form and function,” explains Morgan of her foray into woven expression, which also serves to broaden the scope of her clientele, since now, even “super stylish yogis can use them as a prop or extra warmth during Savasana.”
Not everyone may feel the need to collect paintings and sculptures, but these blankets serve as a well-designed home good that can be enjoyed every day. “They're precious, but sturdy enough for everyday wear and tear,” she promises of the brightly-hued masterpieces, with cerebral names like Practicing Restraint, comprised of floating shapes of soft yellow and watermelon pink, and Tiebele (inspired by the African village in Burkina Faso of the same name), its vivid green and blue strokes surrounding graphic black and white markings.
“Funny enough: It isn't the textiles that I love from that region, but rather its colorful windowless homes also known as ‘sukhala’—the curvy structures are hand-painted in these bold chevron and harlequin patterns by the women of the Kassaena Tribe,” Morgan shares. “I was intrigued by the idea of interpreting these motifs that are outside of their homes on hard protective surfaces into something that you can take inside a dwelling and literally wrap around you as a shield.”
And that she does, admitting that she walks around her studio regularly dressed in her work, draping it over her shoulders like a cape. “We get blankets as babies and it shouldn't stop when we enter adulthood, they are the ultimate functional home accessory, adding a bit of style and color when draped over the sofa or across the bed. It's like giving the gift of warmth and relaxation.”
Everyone could use a tip or two on staying warm in the dead of winter, so here are some chunky knit blankets that will keep you toasty and this is how to make your bed into a total sanctuary.
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