Global Young Designer Spotlight: Projektityyny

In conversation with Nora Nilsson of Projektityyny, the Nordic brand behind the cushions and patchwork quilts we’re lusting after. The Finland-born founder talks country piles, pillow projects and wabi-sabi, and lets us in on her favourite places to eat and shop in Dorset.

began as a “pillow project” (the Finnish translation of
Projektityyny) with delectable velvet cushions and
marshmallow-esque gingham iterations, has since padded out to
include luscious patchwork quilts and a rainbow-strong collection
of lust-worthy linens (now stocked in a handpicked edit of
retailers including Liberty London, Anthropologie, Harvey Nichols
et al).

Sounds cushy, but getting the brand off the ground took some
bolstering. A lone parent with a stressful full-time role in
fashion, Nora Nilsson began building Projektityyny in the evenings
after her children had gone to bed. Her Finnish propensity for
great design, a little guesswork and a move to Dorset aligned and
saw her through, ultimately allowing Nilsson to make Projektityyny
a full-time commitment.

Working from her barn (formerly an art gallery and studio) in
West Dorset, Nilsson relishes quiet, appreciates imperfection (and
uniqueness) and stands firm in the belief that a country walk need
not be carried out in sensible shoes…



Designer’s name:

Nora Nilsson


Finland; the Nordic countries


Dorset, UK

Type of Brand:

Home textiles

Where did you grow up? How did this place shape or inform

I am from Finland and, although I’ve lived most of my life in
the UK, it is the homeland that

shapes me the most – its deep, close connection with nature and
the seasons, especially the forest and the sea. My childhood spent
at the summerhouse, the never-ending light, the never-ending
darkness, the freedom, quality of living, family – it shaped me and
my aesthetic too.

Finland also exposed me to great design from an early age;
world-famous design houses are part of your everyday life. I grew
up wearing Marimekko every day and sitting on Alvar Aalto chairs at
nursery, using everyday objects like Fiskars scissors without
realising how important all these things have been in the history
of design.

Good design is prevalent in Finland, and people are happy to pay
for it. “Buy once, use for a lifetime” is a motto I learned from an
early age. It’s one that has really struck a chord with me and one
that I will carry with me forever.

How does the name Projektityyny connect with your brand?

It means “pillow project”. That is how it all started. However,
we’ve (I say “we” when it’s really just me) come a long way since
in quite a short time and we are now probably most known for our
patchwork quilts and, more recently, table linen.

Define Projektityyny’s aesthetic…

I always find this question so hard as it comes so naturally to
me. To explain your own art is very difficult. I would say there’s
a strong link to traditional crafts – such as handloom weaving,
patchworking and embroidery – but it’s all done in a very
contemporary way, so it sits just as beautifully in modern homes as
it does in the more traditional ones. My choice of colour and
pattern does that; it brings in the modern, playful element. I
combine unusual colours simply because I love them, not for
commercial reasons.

Our patchwork quilts look modern not vintage, and our
hand-loomed, recycled cushions have modern, bold patterns. I also
only work with natural, sustainable materials – gorgeous linens or
recycled cotton – which adds even more textural depth to the
product; everything is very tactile. Most of our product is
handmade and I love wabi-sabi – the appreciation of imperfection
and uniqueness.

Where is your studio and what does it look like?

I work from a barn on a farm. It used to be an art gallery and
studio for a local painter and I am very lucky to be working in
such a lovely environment. We converted the other half of the
building into a small holiday let and it has been so lovely to have
people visit us from all over the world.

What songs do you have on repeat in your studio?

I don’t! We lead quite a busy lifestyle despite living in the
country – and life with three children is very noisy – so any time
I have just to be and think on my own, I really love peace and

Tell us about your creative process…

I suppose at the very beginning I started almost with a blank
canvas – and a lot of guessing. I now understand the capabilities
and also the limitations of what I, and the factory, can do so the
design process is a lot more focused. These days, I’m much more
confident in developing concepts that at first glance look
uncommercial – if I love it, I have to develop it.

I keep a book of swatches and all my inspiration sources are
filed – these are constantly evolving. The factory also sends me
regular updates of the kind of new techniques they can do, so
sometimes new ideas stem from that.

You strive to create textiles that last. Tell us about some of
the textile traditions applied to Projektityyny products…

Most of our cushions are made by hand on a handloom, meaning
each will be slightly different depending on the weaver. You can
see and feel the knots connecting the yarns and I love the
uniqueness and texture this brings. We use a lot of cotton waste
from the fashion industry to create our cushions, too.

Patchwork quilts are an age-old tradition in many cultures
across the world – they’re typically made from scraps of old but
often meaningful materials (like someone’s old shirt or dress).
It’s a slow craft that was often used to celebrate important life
events such as births, marriages and deaths. They also get passed
down generations – and I really hope ours will stand the test of
time too.

Shop your own line. What are three of your favourite

Our gingham patchwork quilts, Liberty patchwork quilts and our striped frill tablecloth.

What role has social media played in your brand’s growth?

A huge role to be honest. We’re a small brand that only consists
of one person, so social media is a totally invaluable tool. It’s
such a wonderful and quick way to connect with your customers. I
can do most of my marketing myself from anywhere in the world on my

You made the move from London to Dorset a while back. What was
the impetus for the change? Are you a devout countryside dweller

I had been dreaming about a slower pace of life for some time.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love London and I’m definitely
still the odd one out on country walks (wearing totally impractical
shoes, usually), but I was a lone parent with a stressful full-time
role in fashion, so attempting to build something of my own in the
evenings after the children had gone to bed just became rather

I had never really thought about moving seriously. I simply
didn’t see how things could change until I met my current partner,
who lived in Dorset when we met. When I became pregnant with our
little daughter just over three years ago, it was the perfect time
to take stock and change – spending maternity leave in Dorset felt
like the next, natural step.

Is travel a source of inspiration?

Always; everything is a source of inspiration. I get ideas all
the time and note the things I see.

Where is your favourite place in the world and why?

To choose only one is difficult, but currently, I would opt for
our summerhouse by a lake in Finland. Due to COVID-19, I haven’t
been able to go this year. We have never missed a summer before, so
that has been hard. I have never ever experienced the same level of
peace and quiet anywhere. It’s simply stunning.

Destinations on you’d like to visit…

Japan and Peru; both places would no doubt be hugely influential
to me.

What are you reading right now?

I am a really bad reader because I start so many books and if
they don’t grab me within the first few pages, I very rarely give
them another go. I’ve found some that I really enjoy reading, but I
keep mixing between them. Currently, I’m in the middle of I Am Not
Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite, The Secret Lives of Colour
by Kassia St Clair and The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed
History, also by Kassia St Clair.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t compare yourself to others. Always buy the best quality
you can afford. Stay true to yourself.

What advice would you give to other small homewares

Be very grateful to be doing what you love; it’s what we all
strive for. Give it your everything. You reap what you sew. If you
stay true, it will be seen and felt. If it’s not really you, that
will be seen and felt too. Follow your instincts. Don’t compare
your success to anyone else’s.

Nora’s Pocket Guide to Dorset:

EAT: Brassica;
Beach Café
; Seaside Boarding House; At the Chapel (my
favourite – it’s in Somerset, but we are so close to the border
it’s always worth the drive.)

DRINK: Square and
in Worth Matravers.

SHOP: Brassica
; Caro.

DO: Ringstead Beach and Studland Bay; Bridport
Saturday Market; Bridport Art & Vintage Quarter. The gardens and
gallery of Hauser & Wirth Somerset in Bruton.

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