From coaches in Sweden to homes across the world
Imagine riding in a horse-drawn coach in the 1700s or 1800s. The clip-clop of horses' hooves. The slight back-and-forth swaying. A richly detailed cushion on the wooden bench beneath you. This was the inspiration for a modern spin on historical handicraft—a cushion for today's homes that embraces the Swedish tradition of wool embroidery and coach cushions.
Travelling by coach would certainly take longer, but by train it takes about an hour from the IKEA headquarters in Älmhult to reach a museum called Regionmuseet. The museum houses a permanent collection of textiles dating back to the 1600s from Scania, Sweden's southernmost region.
Designer Eva Lundgreen and IKEA design coordinator Susanna Leo were part of the textiles team that visited Regionmuseet.
"I was inspired by the traditional Swedish wool embroidery that stood out in the otherwise simple homes," Eva says.
The team was especially drawn to embroidered cushions of the 1700s and 1800s from Scania. Back then, women crafted lots of textiles for their homes and started at a young age to make pieces for their dowry that would become part of their new home once they were married.
"I imagined how women used their plant-dyed yarn to weave and create wonderful textiles by candlelight," Eva adds.
Women even made coach cushions so that journeys would be more comfortable. These cushions were used at home, too. The most detailed and cherished coach cushions were traditionally used on the way to church, especially for weddings.
"The coach cushions were so striking because of the free, naive way of embroidering combined with the strong, beautiful colours," Susanna explains. "Each cushion is unique and carries its own history. It's creativity on the highest level."
Designed with imagination and modernity
Plants, people, geometric patterns and animals like deer, birds and lions usually appeared on the traditional Swedish coach cushions that inspired RÖDARV cushion.
"The motifs of the old coach cushions are full of fantasy and aren't always perfect or symmetric, which shows traces of the hands that embroidered them," Susanna says.
Eva says she may have seen dragons on an old embroidered cushion that sparked her creativity for the whimsical animals of RÖDARV. And her imagination ran free as she thought about all the flowers picked in wild meadows.
"Eva was able to interpret traditional patterns in a modern way and precisely captured the genuine feeling we wanted," Susanna says.
Even though our modern lives don't call for coach cushions anymore, maybe you'll hear a faint clip-clop of history the next time you cosy up with a RÖDARV cushion.