Arne & Carlos
The duo, who live in a converted railway station north of Oslo, began their partnership by launching a high end fashion brand that was sold in exclusive stores around the world, and collaborated with the likes of Urban Outfitters and Japanese label Comme des Garcons.
But after the global financial crash of 2008, and the runaway success of their Christmas book, they decided to concentrate on handknit design instead. It wasn’t an obvious move, but they were happy to step away from the logistical headaches caused by commercial garment production. And their books continued to be best sellers, bolstered by a growing following of internet-savvy knitters who lapped up their YouTube videos.
Design partnerships are unusual in the handknit world, but Arne and Carlos have always worked as a team. The pair first met when Arne was teaching at the Oslo School of Design. Carlos had completed a degree in political science but was looking to do something creative, and was drawn back into the textile world by Arne. These days they let off creative steam by journaling in books they hand bind themselves, and this practice feeds directly into all their design work.
Carlos explains: “We work in these visual collages. It starts with a collection of images, anything from a floor tile, to maybe a modernist painting, and then it develops.”
Arne adds: “We normally have an idea of what we should do and we talk a little bit about it. Then I start to make the drawings either in Illustrator or in Photoshop.”
“We look at it together,” continues Carlos, “and talk a lot about what has potential, what doesn’t and then we make another selection. From there we start building it up, looking at colours and making the garments.”
Ten years after that first book, ARNE & CARLOS created their inaugural collection of designs for Rowan - a veritable feast of colourwork in their hallmark twist on Scandi style - along with patterns to celebrate the brand’s 40th anniversary. The designs were realised in Kidsilk Haze and Felted Tweed, among their favourite Rowan yarns.
As well as attracting a loyal following among knitters, ARNE & CARLOS have received numerous prestigious awards and in 2010 Norway’s Arts and Crafts Association – Norges Husflidslag – awarded them its highest medal of recognition for “revitalising and highlighting Norwegian arts and crafts in the Norwegian and international design scene”.
Away from all the accolades, it’s clear Arne and Carlos are completely immersed in their creative lives. The videos they record at their home in the mountains encompass knitting, crochet, food, Norwegian traditions, collaging, dolls houses, and whatever else is catching their magpie eyes at the time. And they are 100 per cent committed to their collaborative process. In fact, Arne insists it’s easier to design together than apart. “If you work alone it’s harder because no one will kill your darlings. You can look at something you’ve done and think everything is fantastic, because you don’t edit. When you’re two it refines it. So it’s a good way to work.”
Their road to success may have been a little unusual but one thing is certain - whatever comes next from ARNE & CARLOS, it’ll be worth watching. And their 40,000 YouTube subscribers agree.
patterns by yarn
This jumper was designed by ARNE & CARLOS using two shades of our lovely Alpaca Soft DK.
Knit this accessory scarf, a design by ARNE & CARLOS using Kidsilk Haze
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