Although Sinje Ollen has been knitting since she was 12, it was a marked-up Arne Jacobsen Swan chair that shifted the German-born Harlem artist’s focus from fashion to furniture. “My friend didn’t want to throw out her favorite chair,” she says. “So I suggested knitting a coat for it.” Two years after the Jacobsen chair project, Ollen is busy collaborating with William Earle, a Designlush showroom artist, on on a cover for his Woodcutter’s chaise. “I can’t wait to see my three-dimensional bubble stitch in striking contrast to his clear, angular lines,” she says. When Ollen isn’t knitting for furniture designers, she’s working with private clients, crafting hand-painted yarn works with infinite colorways that reflect the spaces (and pieces) they grace. The trick to her creative process? Maintaining the spirit of the furniture while covering it with its own tailor-made clothing. And, regardless of who she’s knitting for, she loves the surprise element of each finished design. “I rarely know how my creations will turn out exactly, but I love playing with textures, patterns and yarn fibers,” she says. “Knitting offers endless possibilities.”
Using hand-painted Italian merino wool, Ollen created what she calls “a party coat”—appropriately
named Berry Candy—for this classic Arne Jacobsen Swan chair.
LX: I love what I do because…
SO: Once a project is planned out, it becomes portable. I take it everywhere: the playground when I am out with my kids, to the grocery store, it even turns subway rides into productive work time. You can’t do this with a sewing machine.
LX: Most people don’t know:
SO: I used to coordinate technical platforms and create databases at the New York Stock Exchange.
LX: Design muses:
SO: Fiber artist Nick Cave for his limitless sense of humor; quilting artist Faith Ringgold for her outspoken spirit; Florence Knoll Bassett for her vision and tenacity; and Coco Chanel for her timeless elegance.
LX: Favorite restaurant:
SO: Café Mogador on the Lower East Side. I have been going there since I first moved to New York. They haven’t changed the menu in 20 years, and it’s still just as good as it used to be.
LX: I’m reading…
SO: Nate Berkus’ The Things That Matter, and Dave Egger’s A Hologram for the King.