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Textile designer Annie Axtell makes functional art for your sofa.
For over a decade, Annie Axtell worked with paper: hunkered down in her East Vancouver studio, she screenprinted her hand-drawn fine art and lunar calendars. She considered herself an artist first, but fuelling that creativity was a love for design and interior spaces. “I had always created three-dimensional objects,” Axtell recalls. “I didn’t realize that I’ve been a designer for a long time.”
So, she stepped deliberately into home design, launching her first collection of pillows in November 2020. Early on, her main focus was the silhouette. “I started with the idea of shape,” she says. “I wanted something that was fun, but also useful.”
The resulting trio of sculptural pillows (Wiggle, Slink and Link) are a celebration of unique shapes, stunning colour palettes and lush fabrics. Axtell’s unconventional designs are also highly functional—even more so than she had originally intended. “I was really surprised with how my customers use my pieces,” she says. The curved shapes make the pillows perfect for nursing parents to support their babies, and kids often self-soothe by cuddling up to the soft structures. Axtell herself uses Wiggle as a body pillow: “It has a pick-me-up-and-hold-me-forever feeling about it,” she explains.
Each plush piece is made by hand, right down to the felted wool print tags, and she keeps her production to a limited scale to focus on quality and sustainability (she often uses deadstock and end-of-roll fabrics to keep her environmental impact in check). “I love making pieces that are super high-quality, durable and beautiful,” says the designer.
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