Claudia Caviezel is a textile designer with a curious mind and a sharp eye for the potential of things all around us. Following her training at the Lucerne University of Applied Arts and Sciences, Caviezel has worked for the haute couture fabric manufacturer Jakob Schlaepfer, and engaged in a number of parallel projects at all scales — from fabric to lamp shade, from carpet to wall print. In all her projects, her experimental, open-ended approach combines a unique instinct for pattern and colour with expertise and knowledge of technique and materials. She is currently in charge of fabric design and development for Akris, in St. Gallen.
The Confederation has distinguished her with a Swiss Grand Award for Design in recognition of her talent and influence in changing the contemporary textile design scene in Switzerland. Prior to the Grand Award, Caviezel has won the Swiss Design Award in 2003, 2007 and 2010.
Claudia Caviezel’s diploma project tape it instantly captivated me when I saw it in Lucerne in 2002. Her clothing and textiles assembled with tape and her taped floor coverings and curtains were delightfully different. This was a young woman who had the courage to do what she felt like doing and who blithely overstepped the boundaries of traditional design in Switzerland. Caviezel’s work was not conventionally produced nor was the design reduced ; it was at a startling remove from anything typically associated with Swiss attributes. tape it was colourful, wild and unconventional. In her diploma project, this brand-new design graduate introduced a method that has continued to motivate her work ever since: the chain reaction. As she explains it, “I first think about the idea for a project in my head. When I have the feeling that I know what I want it to be like, I get to work; I try things out, elaborating on the idea and never ruling out chance.” Caviezel chooses and combines materials and techniques in unprecedented ways. While working, she takes inspiration from experiments and listening to music. In fact, music looms large in this designer’s life, so much so that one can certainly compare her approach with that of contemporary musicians. She similarly recycles and samples found pieces from her life, takes them apart, rearranges them and repurposes them until they become a personal, artistic work in their own right.
Claudia Caviezel’s unconventional and effervescent projects are unique in the field of Swiss design. She has created an extremely personal, distinctive oeuvre by blending old and new crafts, relying on unusual materials and techniques and making singular use of colour and structure. She is refreshingly uninhibited in appropriating the ordinary and the simple, cleverly redefining and incorporating the familiar into her designs. Her intuitive and concentrated approach produces astonishing results. Only those who have no qualms about taking risks can override norms and ideologies as successfully as Caviezel does. Constantly testing the push and pull between design and art, between series and one-off ; never accepting givens as givens : these are the forces that motivate this designer.
A look at two of Caviezel’s projects gives revealing insight into her work. For her 5 x 8 metre wall covering on view at the Westbund Art and Design Fair 2014 in Shanghai, she applied untold washes of paint with squeegee and scraper to old plastic sheeting on which her projects had been printed. Occasionally the former prints could be seen shining through. “I scanned and enlarged the combinations of colour that I liked best, then modified and reassembled them,” Caviezel explains. She placed a vibrant array of flowers and animals against this colourful background. Many of the motifs come from her extensive collection of photographs and sketches, produced in the course of her travels. The opulent wall piece was an eye-catching favourite among visitors to the Westbund Art and Design Fair. Innumerable Chinese visitors had pictures taken of themselves standing in front of it. Caviezel’s contribution in Shanghai did not escape the notice of people in Switzerland and, in fact, internationally, with reproductions of the work appearing in publications all over the world. This has led to commissions for new wall pieces and interior design projects both at home and abroad.
Many people from Switzerland are familiar with Caviezel’s designs through her collaboration with Atelier Pfister. Since 2011, she has created pillows, linens, blankets, carpets and a sofa for the furniture company. She is currently working on a new carpet project. After experimenting with a number of knotted and woven designs, she finally settled on making a tufted carpet. This time she started with a puzzle from her childhood. It consisted of a cube, with a different colour on each face and, in some cases, two colours that divide the plane diagonally into two triangles. Caviezel had a cube produced to match the proportions of the carpet. She laid out pattern after pattern and took pictures of them. At the computer she added shadowed joints between the cubes, thus filling the planes with a variety of colours and structures. “If I had started designing at the computer straightaway, I would never come up with such ideas. I need the transfer between analogue and digital, between small and large dimensions, between low and high tech.”
Since finishing her training almost 14 years ago, Caviezel has branched out in several directions and created a job context of her own. In addition to designing fabrics and products, she is devoting herself increasingly to large-scale images and projects for interiors in collaboration with architects. Although she is still relatively young, there is no mistaking how much she has experimented and achieved in the course of her professional career. As a long-standing fan of Claudia Caviezel, I am excited and curious to see how this passionate and fearless designer continues to expand her effervescent universe.