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While in Milan, we discovered the unique creations of Salem Van der Swaagh, an emerging and exceptionally talented textile designer out of Berlin, Germany. The designs complement SUITE NY’s aesthetics beautifully and it was an easy decision to bring these pillows, rugs and throws into our collection. This week, we would like to introduce you to Salem and who better to do so than Salem herself?
“I am committed to making tactile products that have both environmental and social impact. Our carpets and pillows are designed and hand woven in Berlin, using 100% waste material from industrial weaving. For this first collection I am inspired by the color white, and all the nuances and shades that exist naturally in wool.”

Although originally from America, Salem now lives and works in Berlin, Germany, which has a rich tradition of hand-weaving. “One of the great things about working in Berlin is the space: both physical space and mental space. The studio I work in accommodates three large hand looms, with room to spare. Berlin is also still quite open, in terms of new designers and crafts people. It is a big city, with a lot of new people coming, but this creates something supportive, even electric in the city, rather than competitive.”

Sam, who is legally blind due to his ocular albinism, has become integral to Salem’s process. “He reached out to me, seeking an apprenticeship in weaving. We have worked on developing products that are highly tactile, and technically simple to weave. The tailoring of that process has informed the choice to focus on the materialization of the nuances and subtleties of the single color white in wool in our first collection. These works favor tactility. Through this experience, Sam has become an accomplished weaver and has produced much of the collection.”

When asked about the inspiration behind her one of a kind pieces, Salem playfully explains, “I am inspired by texture. I love when a textile really looks like a textile; where there is an aesthetic connection to the source of the material, so I like making things that look like sheep!”
Her lively reasoning doesn’t stop there. Salem continues, “I love to touch soft things, to feel the surface of something. I am less interested in intricate patterns and motifs, at least in my own work. The work I make has to be made by hand. The material is too bulky to be woven industrially, and I am inspired by this – to create a product that can not be made any other way than by hand.”
“I am also inspired by interiors. I think textile can add so much dimension to an interior when it plays off the other elements in a space. I love the contrast of the wooly rugs and pillows against a concrete floor for example. Textile can add so much texture, can instantly make a space feel cozy and complete. I find designing in this context very inspiring.”