Lege Alto | Moscow
"So many of our projects have been a success because of the Zimmer + Rohde fabrics. We've often decorated whole houses in them!"
Elena Ermakova welcomes us with confidence at the design studio "Lege Alto" in the heart of Moscow. Wherever we look we are surrounded by whole rows of chandeliers and precious draperies. Upstairs and downstairs business is bustling. How many people actually work here, trying to make every kind of wish come true? The firm here is synonymous with professional European interior design. "I act as a bridge between the top European labels and our clients" says Elena. The Russian customers seem to have slightly different preferences somehow. "They have a downright colour phobia! Grey, beige, brown, white – like our weather. It's my aim to make our living spaces more colourful, more appealing!"
She's been working on it for 10 years now – with our fabrics. “The Zimmer + Rohde collections are international, they don't just represent a particular market, like Germany for instance. There is the wool and silk from Hodsoll McKenzie – ideal for the Russian winter. Then the rich patterns of Ardecora with embroidery and gold effects. People love that here!" Yet there is another reason for Elena's loyalty: "The service you get from Zimmer + Rohde is totally reliable. They listen to us, understand our problems, always help. And you can order more of the same fabric for years and years! With the Germans it's just chop-chop. Everything runs like clockwork…!"
Hirsch Bedner Associates Design Group | Hong Kong
"Zen and calmness are etched into the way we live today here in Hong Kong - far removed from the strong red colour of former years. The hectic lifestyle awakens a need for a place where your thoughts can find peace. That's why we value the quiet, sophisticated design inherent in Zimmer + Rohde fabrics."
Fiona Bagaman – Associate with HBA Hirsch Bedner Associates Design Group, has worked with Zimmer + Rohde textiles for 8 years.
Taylor Howes Design | London
"Real chic is certainly a mixture of the classical and the modern. The Zimmer + Rohde collections get right to the heart of that mix! That's why we live with them in our own homes!"
Gail Taylor and Karen Howes have done their bit to see that London is swinging again as the secret capital of design. This high profile pair have been dressing the interiors of houses, hotels and restaurants for 20 years - always hot on the trail in their search for something new and special. For 20 years they have both worked with fabrics by Zimmer + Rohde. "Just like old friends …" is how Gail describes the time they've shared together. "The Zimmer + Rohde team satisfies our every wish, however eccentric it may be, absolutely as a matter of course. They have simply got this can-do approach!" As a company, "the girls" are well known for their wholly individual approach to their demanding clients. "We include the elegant Zimmer + Rohde fabrics almost everywhere. The quality is perfect, the textures and range of colours fantastic. These wonderful dark purple shades - and now the trendy taupe with that tingly buzz of yellow!" Gail rhapsodises.
And in unison: "These textiles embody the soul of an interior!" They both feel that style in London has really developed, in recent years becoming more international and they welcome this change opening possibilities away from just an ‘English’ look. "Our style is a combination of the classical and the modern, and that exactly describes the Zimmer + Rohde collections. Very stylish…!"
EW Interior | Frankfurt
"If I didn't have fabrics, I just wouldn't know how to decorate!"
If, like Elke Winter, you have been remodelling the best addresses for 20 years, you have a wealth of experience and you know the industry. In her Frankfurt design studio she reflects over the decades with ease. "For as long as I've been involved in interior design, I've worked with Zimmer + Rohde. That means a lot to me. Not just because fabric is my favourite medium and I really like the design of these collections, it's the people, too. There is an atmosphere of warmth at Zimmer + Rohde, we know each other well and that creates trust between us. Everything runs smoothly - and that in turn helps me to do a good job."
It’s also about much more than just a good-looking product: "Even outstanding design alone isn't enough. For my German clients, a fabric must be washable or at least be able to be dry cleaned. Zimmer + Rohde textiles have all these qualities." In addition, in Elke Winter's day-to-day experience, subtle nuances of colour often set the tone. "You can create wonderful worlds of colour with these collections. The high quality pattern books are a fantastic help when you're working with clients." Her enthusiasm is spontaneous and very deep . "The elegant silk 'Aphrodita' is one of my favourites, for example. It was once the source of inspiration for an entire room concept…!"
David Kleinberg Design Associates | New York
"It's in our nature as human beings to need textiles for our 'nest' - they do us good and they have value. When we touch the cover of an armchair, it triggers an emotional response within us. We interact with fabric. So the way a surface and its texture feels are very important aspects."
David Kleinberg – the interior designer und Principal of David Kleinberg Design Associates has used Zimmer + Rohde fabrics for 25 years.
Zimmer + Rohde | Oberursel
"Zimmer + Rohde is a family company. The human touch underpins everything here - amongst colleagues and with customers. You don't find that everywhere. We're proud of that."
Actually, she's still got lots to do, as ever. But there is always time to fit in a few kind words. And when Fabiola Morlang-González says "I'm happy, I like working here!", you can see just by looking at her that she means what she says. She has worked at Zimmer + Rohde for ten years, including her training. "You feel the comfortable atmosphere of a family company here. I can completely rely on my colleagues and the management doors are always open for a chat too.
Great teamwork, which is based on mutual respect. My friends envy me and say 'lucky you'!" She is certain that this is one of the secrets behind the success of Zimmer + Rohde. "I believe that everyone who works here gives more than one hundred percent. It's not just a case of following instructions – we see our customers as people with individual concerns, and we commit ourselves to that, even if that means we need to go a bit further. That's what we call service." Behind Fabiola's loyalty to the company however, something else is at play: "I completely identify with the product! One fabric even carries my name. Just recently I treated myself at home to cushions from the Ardecora silk velvet 'Desir' range. The moment you touch it, you fall in love with it...."
Vignelli Associates | New York
"I like design to be visually powerful, intellectually elegant, and above all timeless."
Massimo Vignelli – designer and recipient of numerous international awards, developed the corporate design for and has been intimately associated with Zimmer + Rohde for many years.
Horst Zimmer | Oberursel
"It still brings me such joy that our family firm always was and still is based on enthusiasm for the craft itself combined with a great love for fabrics. The fact that this has been and still is the case, from generation to generation, is something quite magnificent!"
Horst Zimmer – managed the Zimmer + Rohde company from 1950.
He retired from the executive board in 1990.
Weverij G.G. Delabie | Ghent Ingooigem
"For me the challenge is all about manufacturing the finest and most beautiful quality possible… we don't do average here."
With his sleeves rolled up and a direct gaze, he stands in the great room, surrounded by all his looms. Their thumping rhythm pervades everything yet Yves Valcke long ago ceased to notice it. He is one of the few weavers who keeps the centuries-old tradition of velvet manufacture alive here in Belgium. And he takes his chosen mission very seriously. It's out of the question for him to produce just any old velvet or some mass-produced fabric. "What we make here comes very close to the hand-woven velvet creations of the 18th century, like velours de Gênes or velours de Lyon, a fascinating Jacquard weave!" In order to achieve these ambitious goals, he naturally does not work with just any old machines, but with wire looms. "They look as if they have come from a museum but they are more recent and the principle is still exactly the same as it was for those looms of the previous eras." He has good reasons to stick with the operating methods that have been handed down through time. "The possibilities are enormous! We can interweave far more colours and we never have to restrict the designers as far as colours are concerned. Apart from that, we achieve velvets which are significantly finer and with great density; we can weave in more interlaced patterns and we have this subtle effect of looping. The distinctive feature is that a part of the loop in the pattern gets cut into again. No other loom achieves that. It's like hand-woven velvet – I just love that. Voilà!"
Yves puts his heart and soul into weaving. His deep passion is evident when he talks about his velvets even though these fabrics can at times behave like divas. "Even the slightest change can be enough to make a fabric suddenly cease to be weavable. Fluctuations in air humidity for instance or simply a change of colour. Often a weave is going really well in yellow on the loom but when you change it over to red, the machine doesn't want to play any more. Just because the thread is a tiny bit stiffer because of the pigment - especially with red! Even a tiny problem with the thread tension can cause the whole thing to pack up. Sometimes it just feels jinxed!"
The logistics of each working loom are amazing 3200 spools of thread are running on each of its 35 looms. The gentle clacking that can be heard everywhere is made by the counterbalances which hang on every spool to regulate the tension. Whenever the colour or pattern is changed, all 3200 weights have to be readjusted. "As well as that, the speed of the wire looms must be controlled. We can weave about 25 metres of cut double-cloth velvet per machine in a day. You see, the threads have to lie in loops above the steel needles. If we were to weave more quickly, they would get too hot or spin around everywhere. After all, they're not even one millimetre thick. Our competitors weave twice as much or even 200 metres a day using different machines." But Yves isn't interested in the competition. "Here it's quite simply about our love for the fabric! About being unique. It's my ambition to go right to the edge of what is feasible. As a weaver, I want to get to a place where no-one has ever been before. Voilà! "
Large amounts of patience and experience are needed from Yves and from his colleagues. And the strong ability to empathise - with his machines, with the thread, with every single colour and of course, also, with the designers. However that's something that is based on reciprocity. "We've been weaving the velvets for Zimmer + Rohde now since 1995 and I have to say it's a real pleasure for me! They don't just have a clear vision of what they want, they also really understand a lot about what they do. If you want to create this standard of velvet, you have to know and accept the technological constraints of what is possible. The designers at Zimmer + Rohde visit us here and we develop every fabric together. They listen carefully, we listen carefully. It's a dialogue. I believe that we have a mutual need for each other. That's the secret of our success…!"
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Damien Langlois-Meurinne | Paris
"To my eyes a Zimmer + Rohde fabric brings an interior to life. Colour and emotion, even happiness come into play and that's just what people need."
Pleasantly reserved, Damien Langlois-Meurinne sits in his showroom in the Marais district of Paris. No loud statement at all is necessary for this much sought-after designer and interior decorator. From residences in St. Tropez to artist studios in Montparnasse, he furnishes the top addresses. His talent does not stop there: he also designs furniture and the whole Zimmer + Rohde furniture range carries his signature. Damien sees wood and metal as primarily cool materials. "The emotion is within the fabrics! It's the textiles which bring the magic and tenderness. They are the gowns for the interiors. And from Zimmer + Rohde they are undeniably haute couture!" He settles down to work on the Zimmer + Rohde furniture with professional modesty. "I aim for an elegant but unobtrusive design, which enables the character of the fabric and all its inherent beauty to unfurl."
Andreas Zimmer counts himself lucky that the classical yet modern style of Zimmer + Rohde is so perfectly presented in Damien’s furniture design. Damien is very happy to return the praise. "I simply like the man – his personality and the passion with which he gets on with things. A huge asset to Zimmer + Rohde. These collections are always exactly on trend, the perfect liaison between old values and future vision. So many of the fabrics are glamorous and sexy…!"
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Concept & Interviews | Photos | Text
Nicole von Alvensleben, New York | Luca Vignelli, New York | Elisabeth Berkau, Munich