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Who: Katharina Schmitter, Textile Designer
Where: Paris, Frankreich
Her French is accent-free and her classic elegance typical Parisienne: Katharina Schmitter came as au pair to France, studied History of Art and Textile Design in Paris. There the Munich-raised designer lives since 27 years, works for Hermès and Boussac, before she came into charge of the design of the Ardecora-Collection by the German fabric producers Zimmer und Rohde. Luxury Hotels like the Costes are stocked with her creations. Eleven years ago she moved in a romantic, 110 years old turn of the century-villa in Fontenay-sous Bois on the outskirts of the French capital, hidden behind walls clad in ivy and a high, squeak gate where she still lives with her family.
MyStylery: Your house could have been served as a set for the movie „Amélie“…
Katharina Schmitter: Indeed! It was love at first sight when I found the house in an advert. It’s important to me that the children grew up in a green environment rather than in an effervescent city centre.
MS: Isn’t it a great temptation to put up new curtains in your house for every season? I mean as a textile designer you’re close to the source…
KS: No, quite the reserve in fact: at first I didn’t want to have any of my collections in my house. I thought I would need some space. But then my family convinced me and on the contrary they’re hanging now.
MS: Besides the decorative part, do textiles not also convey a feeling of comfort and warmth?
KS: Not necessarily. There are textiles that should create the opposite. They radiate a cool elegance. But this isn’t me. I’m not interested in industrial manufacturing or smooth surfaces. There are so many cold and unstructured things that surround us already.
MS: Your textiles remind of a homage of magnificent, times long past…
KS: Yes they’re very precious and extraordinary, handcrafted after old traditions. Hereby the whole thing gets its liveliness and emotion. My textiles are mainly such dominant as they could get in concurrence to pictures.
MS: Does that mean that one should rather abandon art, if one decides for your textiles?
KS: The question lies in the focus. Where is the creative focus in the apartment? There’s no need for opulent curtains if there are great paintings and art on the wall, which dominate the room already.
MS: Are you thinking of sales figures while working on your new collection?
KS: My textiles suit best in big old houses that have a patina. That’s what I’ve got in my eyes when I’m working. It’s all about luxury and quality and also about the “special something” that didn’t exist before, but is still requested by the costumer.
MS: Your dressing room is literally bursting at the seams – how many dresses and pairs of shoes do you have?
KS: Many! Too many! Textiles attract me, in every respect. Dresses and shoes are my passion. And that’s why I always need more space although I already get rid of things sometimes – that’s a question of the right moment though. However my absolute “shrine” is the handwritten cookbook of my mother that contains all my favourite German recipes back from my childhood. It’s my favourite memento. BvH
The fantastic world of Katharina Schmitter