Renee Merckx is the creative director of the knitted textiles company Kvadrat Febrik, which she co-founded with her partner Jos Pelders in 2013.

"I can easily spend hours creating colour compositions, playing with different textures, or getting tied up in yarn development. I love to experiment on the knitting machine, playing with 3D techniques and finding ways for the seemingly impossible."

Q: How did your journey at Kvadrat begin?

In 2018, Febrik took a significant step by teaming up with Kvadrat, kickstarting an exciting new chapter for us. After five years of establishing our own brand, we investigated options to continue our successful journey. Joining forces with Kvadrat was our number one choice; we have so much in common, we respect each other. With the merge, we could add our knitted textiles as a new category to the Kvadrat portfolio. By pooling knowledge, ideas, sales, and logistical strength, our precious knits were lifted to a higher level.

Q: How would you define Kvadrat as a workplace?

Becoming part of Kvadrat opened the door to another dimension. Now we are part of a worldwide community and feel at home in many places around the globe. It is very special to be closely connected to many like-minded people, bonding over the same brand. I really appreciate the exchange between the many nationalities and hearing their points of view. There are so many inspiring colleagues who support each other with their individual talents

Q: What is your passion and how does it fit in your current role?

I come from a family background in the furniture industry, thanks to my father, who is a furniture designer. It felt natural for me to explore knitting techniques for upholstery. People thought I was crazy, they said that knits were not strong enough and only suitable for sweaters and garments, but I was determined to prove them wrong.

Now, you might think it’s only about knits for me. But this wouldn’t do justice to my fascination for textile applications and the influences that shape them. I can easily spend hours creating colour compositions, playing with different textures, or getting tied up in yarn development. I love to experiment on the knitting machine, playing with 3D techniques and finding ways for the seemingly impossible. It’s a continuous journey of challenges, enriching the market with new designs.

Besides the aesthetic part, it could also be a novelty in sustainable production solutions that catches my attention. In these times, all eyes are on saving resources. It is a topic close to my heart, and I am excited that Febrik is in the process of replacing virgin fibres with post-consumer, and our own waste. It’s so rewarding to accomplish an environmental improvement as we had with the success of saving 80% of water by changing the finishing process for Mizmaze and Arda.

Q: What are you most proud of accomplishing in your role as Creative Director for Kvadrat Febrik?

Every day we surround ourselves with knitted textiles, typically through the clothes we wear. Knits feel so nice, smooth, and soft. They are comfortable, they stretch around our bodies. Although knits have always been used in fashion, they weren’t common in interior design until a decade ago. Furniture manufacturers only used woven textiles as it was the standard. Because of this, many people doubted if knits could work in the way we envisioned. But we didn’t let that stop us! The way we construct our upholstery textiles creates surfaces full of character with their own benefits. It’s been like unveiling a hidden chair in a crowded room, building this new market for high-end knitted textiles. This is something I’m proud of accomplishing.

Q: How are you able to fulfil your potential at Kvadrat?

Initially, our journey with Febrik focused on creating circular knitted textiles. Since then, we have expanded our horizons and begun experimenting with flat-bed machines, which has opened a whole new world of possibilities. One of our projects was creating Cilos for the new Kvadrat showroom in Los Angeles. It is a great example of our curiosity and our desire to explore new developments and techniques.

We have also already ventured into producing small tubes for chairs and audio products. We want to highlight the diverse applications of knits and their uniqueness. So, it’s ideas and finished projects like this that fulfil my potential as well as the potential of the knits. The combination of technological innovation and design-driven perspectives is quite unique. Our goal is to offer a wide range of knitted solutions.

Q: How do you think of Kvadrat as an inclusive company?

I am particularly proud of what we achieved with the design project KNIT! As a company grows, there is a responsibility to bring in new talent and KNIT! was instrumental in this aspect. It enabled us to collaborate with designers from various backgrounds, provided a stage for unique perspectives, and fostered a culture of inclusivity within our organisation. I feel fortunate to have worked with such a diverse group of talented individuals.