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Conceptual Collections

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June 1, 2008


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Clothes, stylish pouffes and even canine accessories vie for attention in the modern, light and airy room. The centrepiece is an extraordinary item of chill-out furniture: the Palm Tree Pouffe, designed to fit around a palm tree trunk. This is the studio in the Palma apartment of one of Sweden’s most exciting and creative designers, whose work has been likened to art. Mallorca has become both home and inspiration for Yvonne Börjesson. Originally from Gothenburg, Yvonne graduated with honours from the Boras Textile Institute in 1984, then became a designer of men’s active sportswear – working for several prestigious European companies.

Although proud of her roots, her goal was to leave Sweden – which has few designers: “I’m creative and wanted to be among other like-minded people. Paris was a natural choice.” She moved in 1992, initially designing her own sportswear. Her first women’s ready-to-wear collection – Cyber Klassic by Yvonne B – launched during Paris Fashion Week in 1998. Innovative and futuristic, it highlighted her as a creator of new concepts in ready-to-wear. In designing active sportswear, she’d used what are known as technical fabrics, which she continues to work with – along with silk, cotton, and other natural fabrics. “I’m a conceptual designer: it all starts with the material,” Yvonne explains.

A prototype aluminium jacket she designed in 1996 reveals that she was ahead of her time. Even today, it looks exciting. “White is the basic colour,” says Yvonne, showing me some of her fashions. “It’s elegant, chic and, most importantly, it allows the wearer’s personality to shine through.” She uses accents of colour, metallic materials and, sometimes, subtle touches from Scandinavian folklore: “It’s important – particularly to the Japanese market – that people know I’m Swedish.” Her brand is now YVONNE B(ÖRJESSON) Paris – Stockholm. In 2003, she launched her “home couture” collection – gaining more coverage in international media, including Architectural Digest, Beaux Arts, and Madame Figaro.

But why design furniture? “I wanted to. My clothes are very conceptual, but I feel that people don’t treat design with the same respect when it’s something to wear. The value of textiles in fashion isn’t appreciated.” As a consultant to the furniture design company Bleu Nature, she persuaded them to make fundamental, and successful, changes to their range.

Yvonne had already begun to tire of Paris life, and wanted more time for designing. In January 2001 she had taken a break on Mallorca, staying at the Hotel Portixol (which became her first client here) and, on subsequent annual visits, at the home of Marie – a friend of a friend, whom she’d met on her first visit.

Regular walks along the seafront filled her with inspiration. Having found a Mallorcan family workshop in Palma to produce her furniture, she had a reason to relocate and, late last year, she moved into an apartment in an emblematic plaza. She still enjoys her daily walks, designing in her head as she goes.

Without purposely networking, Yvonne has gained some important commissions. At a cocktail party at Pueblo Español, she met the architect Wolfgang Schmidt. After seeing her work, he asked her to design a sofa for Matthias Kühn’s office. She then worked directly and designed items such as bed headboards, cushions, pouffes and water-resistant chill-out furniture. “Kühn and Partner was a fantastic start for me,” says Yvonne. “I really like working with creative people who have the same vision.” Another example of a creative collaboration is the furniture she designs furniture for Tony Fernandez of Otro Projecto (whose concepts have included Puro, Mood and The Harbour Club).

Yvonne Börjesson’s signature elements include fabrics punched with small holes, metallics, circles and suede spaghetti fringing. The latter perfectly illustrates the designer’s keen sense of fun – also evident in her dog accessories.

After 9/11, Paris had fewer visitors and Yvonne recalls that only dogs walked past her studio/showroom, annoyingly leaving their deposits outside. So she decided – almost tongue-in-cheek – to create something for them. Two months’ hard work later, she launched “chien chic” in September 2004 – closing-off a Paris street to hold a fashion show, featuring 38 people, 25 pooches, dancers and singers, all dressed in her designs. “Nobody looked at the people; all the focus was on the dogs,” says Yvonne, whose resulting press coverage extended as far away as Japan. The range of dog coats, collars, leashes, dog beds and sofas is “chic not ridiculous” and, as proof, the renowned George V in Paris commissioned their own subtly-branded line, sold in their hotel boutique.

Since moving here, Mallorca has influenced both her designs and her lifestyle: “I’ve started wearing denim jeans!” she laughs. Combined, naturally, with a top of her own stunning design.

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Jan Edwards

Jan Edwards

An ex-BBC radio presenter/journalist living on the cosmopolitan island of Mallorca, who is assistant editor for the luxury lifestyle publication abcMallorca. Her main writing interests are in travel, food and interviewing interesting people and well-known celebrities. Jan blogs about her finca lifestyle and contributes articles to some well-known publications in the UK.