Article by Roxana Florina Popa

We are all looking for sources of life and designers who can truly generate life into their products are few. This is a challenge that only the brightest and the most ingenious can make it shine.

Besides beauty, playfulness and harmony, CLAUDIA SKODA and JÜRGEN DAHLMANNS meant to bring to the world creations that breathe and spread energy and love around them.

Claudia Skoda, the famous and influential knitwear designer from Berlin and Jürgen Dahlmanns, the founder of Rug Star – the global design carpet label born in Berlin and the winner of numerous prizes at the Domotex Fair, decided to intersect their valuable experiences in fashion and interior design in order to create for the home textile area. Their first creation is what they call “a playlist” of 120 pillows. The two resourceful designers are also very good friends in real life.

Claudia Skoda, who founded her fashion label in 1975, has remained curious and creative in the fashion field for over 40 years. Young designers orient themselves based on her fashion innovations and they highly value her advice.

Made by the hands of Claudia Skoda, the pillows are in reality the result of life-time experimentation with yarn and unique knitting techniques. Patterns such as “Kaviar“, “Spa“, “Mama Whale“, “This Way andExit” to a bright sunlight, “Dress well” and “Satellite City” make you fall in love with their lightness, sunny mood and good humour. They were imagined to immediately uplift the atmosphere of your house and bring fresh modernity to any interior setting. Their colour vibration is where the two designers come very close in the creative process.

The “120 Pillows” Event in Berlin is a great occasion to meet the designers and immerse in the warm and joyful universe of an original Rug Star carpet and of an original Claudia Skoda exclusive pillow of a first execution in the RUG STAR Warehouse on the Adalbertstrasse 8 in Berlin on the 4th of December 2016.

michael tewes

“Interior pictures” photo credit Michael Tewes

Interview with the designers CLAUDIA SKODA and JÜRGEN DAHLMANNS

Roxana Florina Popa: Looking at your invitation on Facebook, seeing pillows flying up in the air and the number 120, made me think of Nena’s song “99 Luftballons” and of children’s pillow fights. What is the spirit of this event in Berlin?

Jürgen Dahlmanns: Our 120 PILLOWS project is a celebration in diversity, beauty, love and friendship. So you are right, our first picture to introduce our cooperation has this private emotion of joy and it reflects our working method to be a happening and a laboratory to find beauty.

michael tewes

“Interior pictures” photo credit Michael Tewes

I met Claudia Skoda 15 years ago when I opened my first shop in Berlin Mitte. My work people know by now under the brand name RUG STAR. We have been neighbours in the beginning and we developed a deep friendship over the last 15 years.

Claudia is my raw model, not only in her work, but also in her positive reflection and attitude in daily live. We are two different generations, I get 50 soon and Claudia is one generation ahead. But looking at her, I mostly think I am the older one. Her mind is vibrant, open and colourful and always a step more progressive than mine. Imagine this: I always thought that my creative mind is a stormy river, but beside Claudia it appears tender and smooth, more a summer sunny forest lake.


Stream 01

“Interior pictures” photo credit Michael Tewes

RFP: The 120 Pillows event is a fruit of your friendship. How did friends and designers CLAUDIA SKODA and JÜRGEN DAHLMANSS work together on this project?

JD: We have something in common; most of our work can be reflected as our diary. We both express ourselves with the patterns and the colour combinations we use on a textile surface. I think our understanding of the use of colours for particular designs is very close; here is the deeper connection in the profession.

Claudia is executing this for 40 years already in fashion and I have been executing this for 15 years in interior design, which is my hand-knotted rugs area.

My goal is to extend my work, which at the moment is only concentrated on floor covering, also into the fields of home textiles. On the other side, Claudia has reached a point in her life where she wants her pattern language to be part of interior and architecture, too, since her patterns always had a strong architectural layer.

So, in April this year, I offered her to start an open project, where we do not consider the final result. Of course, the item “pillow” was first set, but I denied any boundaries or goals in terms of volume, price calculation, distribution structure or final position on the market. I only wanted her to start talking with her knitting texture on field, so that we can later show it in the interior design. Slowly, we invented the pillow sizes: 50 cm x 70 cm, 60 cm x 90 cm and 65 cm x 100 cm.


081 Big City 01

 “Interior pictures” photo credit Michael Tewes

In a second step, we set up a structure to manufacture all in Berlin, so it is a truly handmade Berlin product.

Only in the last 8 weeks, have we understood the final product, made the first costs calculation and considered to invent a distribution structure according to these facts. We understood that we had created textile sculptures with a one-of-a-kind attitude. In the next step, we want to create a service for interior designers to make “Playlists” of pillows that we will especially design for each living situation.

RFP: In pupils’ folklore, putting the school book under the pillow at night helped them know the lessons the next day before the teacher; nowadays’ political figures are offered armchairs equipped with pillows in TV talks; in Oriental countries, pillows decorated rich people’s houses and the more pillows they had, the more they were seen as generous; deep confessions are easily made around a pillow talk; they even replace a remote beloved person.

What kind of magic do Claudia Skoda’s pillows do?

JD: I tested some of the pillows on my sofa lately and I can tell you that the process of the pillows works like this: SEE ME, HUG ME AND LOVE ME.


096 Storm & Roses 01

“Interior pictures” photo credit Michael Tewes

They have their own strong personality, but are soft and tender. To female friends with man trouble, I recommend a couple of the big size pillows as a good option for the next cold winter months ahead.

Reflecting on the magic: there is another personality in our pillows different from what you normally find on the pillows market. They have been invented in another attitude, so their appearance is different from other products.

It is already my philosophy – that I build and reflect in my rugs – that the production process is part of the vibration of the product:

If you only think about producing items to be consumed, you forget to give them a soul. If you think about product development with the purpose to match a price point, you forget the soul. If you ask different questions, they will lead you to different answers.

This is the magic we have in the pillows, we believe in adding soul into our products due to how we work.

RFP: What kind of knitting technique did you choose and why? What materials are the pillows made of? How long does it take to make 120 pillows? Which were the essential tools in their creation? 

Claudia Skoda: As I wanted to work not only with traditional knitting and handcraft, Jürgen and I agreed on knitting pictures for this first project. They are knitted on the knitting machine on flatbed Jacquard. The challenge consisted most of all in the concept I designed based on my long experience in fashion. The pillow is the ideal medium to express my patterns and imagery which in fashion can be applied only to a limited extent. Not every person accepts this visual vocabulary on his or her own body, but they accept it in their homes. 80% of the pillows are made of high-tech cotton yarn with a nylon thread. I worked on this pillows project from January until October, including checks in between.

“Interior pictures” photo credit Michael Tewes

RFP: What inspired your pillow patterns?

CS: Fashion, music, art and unseen pattern on air.


061 On Stage 01


022 Kaviar 01

“Interior pictures” photo credit Michael Tewes

RFP: Rug Star has always been very innovative in weaving techniques and materials. 2016 saw hand-tufted creations complementing the very well known hand-knotted Tibetan and Persian weave.

What does it mean for a business to introduce a new technique in terms of time and arriving at a successful innovation?  What caused this new direction? Which are the advantages that hand-tufting offers?

JD: In the first 7 years of my work with Rug Star, I was exclusively working in the hand-knotted Tibetan area rug. After 7 years of innovation, I felt confident to add a new product and so, for the next 7 years I started innovating the Persian hand-knotted rug. It might be my cycles, because for the next 7 years I started with the tuft technique.

It is not a hand-knotted rug, as the dimension of the parallel process of weaving and knotting is missing. In the product category of tuft, a little gun is shooting the fibre into an exciting fabric, where the outlines have been drawn and the fields are slowly filled with different colours, material and mixtures.

michael tewes

“Interior pictures” photo credit Michael Tewes

As an architect, I always understood the architectural dimension of rugs. Thanks to the hand-knotted rug, we established a beautiful system to make customised productions for our clients all over the world.

The project business sometimes requests bigger volume or shorter delivery times, for example, for high-end hotels. Here, the hand-knotted rug of the quality we are producing has no real market and I was never interested in quick and cheap hand-knotted rugs.

The tuft is an excellent product to fit into this request and I am happy that we managed already in such a short time to set up an amazing collection in tuft which we will launch in January 2017 in Hannover at the Domotex Fair.

RFP: Which is the hotel, building or institution in New York that you dream of decorating with Rug Star carpets?

JD: I am at the moment in the pitch for the head office of my most loved sports brand in the USA, so I think this very much reflects my goals where I want to go with the tuft production. For hotels, we had requests from leading brands already in the past, but I never had the right project. I love the Park Hyatt brand or the Shangri-La hotels or the Peninsula. It is really up to the project and the concept they want to translate, so it is hard to tell.

michael tewes

“Interior pictures” photo credit Michael Tewes

RFP: Do you consider taking distance online orders from clients who are not in Berlin on the occasion of the “120 Pillows” Event on the 4th of December?

JD: We managed to build up a distribution system in 30 countries for our customised rugs. I am very positive that we will manage in the long term the goal to offer our truly unique pillows in the same way. I have already requests from the Middle East, China and the USA. First, we want to make our sales event for our friends on the 4th of December in Berlin and after that, we start setting up the next structure and I am very curious where it will lead us to.

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Roxana Florina Popa is the author and self-publisher of the book “Beauty Elegance Creativity – 12 Interviews on the Act of Creation

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