Spotlight On: GRAN Living
8000 Aarhus C
There is in Denmark a certain given that the well being of the community and the environment are central to having an ethical life. That cultural concern for society and justice influences Danish citizens from early on. When Katherine Gran Hartvigsen talks about the new brand, AYTM, that she and her husband, Per, launched, it is with reverence for the weavers who make the rugs that this luxury home interior company sells. So it was only natural, she says, that Aarhus, Denmark-based AYTM should join GoodWeave®. Of those important principles that AYTM and GoodWeave share, Katherine says simply, “It is just the way I am and we are in Denmark.”
Katherine and partner and husband Per Gran Hartvigsen, are not new to the world of textile and design. The couple spent two and a half years in Bangladesh as agents for a Danish garment company. Their already passionate interest in design and aesthetics was fired up by those years spent in Asia, as was their desire to have their own company. “We took a chance when we finally left Bangladesh and our jobs to go out on our own,” she says of the birth of their first project, the home interior design and import company, Gran Living. The success of Gran Living in the home accessory field encouraged the creative couple to launch their own brand, AYTM that specializes in luxury home interior products for the kitchen, living room and dining room.
It is this marriage of contemporary art and a most traditional craft that contributes to the uniqueness of each rug created by Equator and it is that collaboration that most fascinates Petra. “I have always liked to combine the traditional with contemporary art,” she says. To that end Petra Singh not only enlists leading edge art practitioners to design rugs for Equator Productions, she also looks for opportunities to bring together artists in other disparate fields in the salons she regularly hosts in New York. What she finds so interesting at the art soirées she organizes is the element of surprise and spark of creativity that emerges from the meeting, for example, of a classical pianist and a performance artist.
Among AYTM’s new products is a line of 100% New Zealand wool, handmade rugs. Katherine says the couple had wanted to explore the weaving crafts and feature rugs for their clients for quite a while. AYTM offered the opportunity and there was a lot to learn about all the techniques of the craft that they had decided to feature, Katherine says. Even now she is still amazed at the work that goes into each rug. There is something special about carpets, she says. “They are ‘hygge’ (Danish for ‘cozy’). That’s the feeling they give.”
Although the craft itself is centuries old, the AYTM rugs are distinctively modern. Like the brand’s other home products the rugs are an international take on Nordic design with all the simplicity and elegance that comes with a Scandinavian aesthetic. Another principle that drives AYTM rug design is the desire for unconventionality. “We didn’t want to be too mainstream,” Katherine says. That explains AYTM’s unusually shaped rug, “Stilla”, a drop shaped hand tufted, wool rug in dark gray, forest green and rose. Another experiment was to use rose for the rug, which as Katherine points out, is not “trendy”. This particular hue of rose, however, she says, has a sheen, which makes it decidedly more modern. “I even have one in my dining room,” she says laughing,” and I’m not a rose kind of girl!”
Producing the unorthodox shaped “Stilla” has been exciting and, as it turns out, commercially successful. That said, Katherine admits that although AYTM does not want to be “normal”, it is still a balancing act to be interesting and original and at the same time, have a broad market appeal. Part of that balancing act is that AYTM also carries a very modern, but very traditional Nordic style rug, “Unda”. “Unda”, which is rectangular, is an understated, luxurious wool mix in tones of gray.
Although Katherine and Per have had a long history working in Asia and with textiles, producing rugs has introduced them to a new craft which, Katherine says, still astonishes her. “There are so many techniques!” She is full of admiration for the weavers and is grateful for the opportunity to give them her business and at the same time through her membership in GoodWeave, help the children, she says. “The children are, after all, the future.”
To learn more, visit www.granliving.dk