A Weave For All Seasons
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 3/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
WHO: Helena Hernmarck.
WHAT: Tapestries that breathe life into corporate and residential settings.
HOW: "Before RTKL even asked me to collaborate on the Time Warner Center, they included one of my early pieces in a rendering submitted to the client—who asked them to call me again."
"I was no good at school," Helena Hernmarck says. "I wanted to do something with my hands." That something was weave. Her immense wool tapestries—some as long as 80 feet—are often hyperrealist expressions of nature.
After studying weaving in her native Stockholm, she set out Viking-style to conquer North America. She wove two tapestries for the 1967 World's Fair in Montreal and three for the Cunard Lines's QE2. Her first U.S. commission—for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's Weyerhaeuser headquarters in Tacoma, Washington—prompted her move to New York. So did industrial designer Niels Diffrient: The two married in 1976.
Her subsequent collaborators read like an AIA who's who: Pei Cobb Freed & Partners; Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates; Perkins + Will; Kallmann, McKinnell & Wood Architects. Thanks to RTKL Associates, the Related Companies commissioned her to design the four seasonally rotating tapestries in the lobby for the Time Warner Center apartments in New York.
Though Hernmarck lives and works in Ridgefield, Connecticut, she has her wool dyed and spun in Sweden—proving her tightly woven bond to her homeland.