These Lovely Throw Blankets Prove Fine Art Isn’t Just For Walls

Marc Hendrick, the designer behind the Los Angeles-based textile brand Slowdown Studio, creates a new collection of woven blankets the way others might curate a site-specific art show. For each new set, he commissions a handful of artists to create original pieces, makes sure each piece works with the others, adapts them to textile versions, then sends them to a manufacturer to be produced.

As a result, Slowdown’s blankets truly are pieces of art—and the most recently released designs are no exception. Working with artists from Texas to Paris, the new collection features abstract, painterly textiles that will look as lovely on your wall as they will tossed over the back of your couch.

Hendrick had the idea for Slowdown Studio after buying a house in L.A. and finding that most of the textiles he was looking at for furnishing were severely lacking in creativity. One day, he was struck by the originality of a few textiles he came across that were being used as wall hangings. It made him want to create his own. “I have a background in fashion and retail, and I just thought it was an interesting product and a way of producing it as art,” Hendrick says.
After finding a manufacturer in North Carolina to produce the blankets, Hendrick went about commissioning original designs from artists he admires. “It’s been a hobby of mine to track and collect these artists,” through social media like Pinterest and Instagram, he says. At this point, the studio has been around for nearly two years, so many of the people he contacts are already familiar with the brand. Hendrick will point out a few of their pieces that he thinks would translate well to the 100% cotton woven blankets, and the artists come back with a handful of original designs. Considering the colors and forms that will show up best on a blanket, Hendricks whittles it down to one design per artist. For each piece sold, the designers get a cut of the proceeds.

Sourcing online lends itself naturally to commissioning people from all over the world, says Hendrick, and the new collection is decidedly international. Byzance Design Studio is located in Paris, painter Jonathan Ryan Storm lives in Texas, the Hungarian textile designer Dora Szentmihalyi is based in Barcelona, and the graphic designer and artIST Marleigh Culver lives in Virginia. Each of the artists brings their own style and sensibilities to the pieces, but the common thread through the collection is that the designs elevate a cotton throw to the level of art—though at a relatively affordable price.