Skip to content

Kvadrat CEO Anders Byriel:
“What matters is not where you come from but the values that drive you forward.”

“We are privileged to practically choose who we work with,” says Kvadrat CEO and Habitare’s International Friend, Anders Byriel. We met Anders and learned how internationalization brings growing responsibilities.

Text: Hanna-Katariina Mononen

Photos: Matteo Girola, Benjamin Lund, Kvadrat




Habitare annually invites a prominent influencer from the design field as its International Friend. The International Friend visits Habitare to explore its offerings and the Finnish design scene, selects the most interesting content from the event and engages in discussions with Habitare about design trends and phenomena. This year, Habitare welcomes Anders Byriel, CEO of the textile company Kvadrat.


It feels natural to ask about Kvadrat from the CEO himself, who admits that his identity has merged with the company he leads. “When you lead a family business, you become that business,” Anders clarifies, “Kvadrat is passionate about architecture, design, and modern art – and so am I!” There is probably no one interested in design and architecture who has managed to avoid encountering Kvadrat in some form. Founded in 1968 by Poul Byriel and Erling Rasmussen, the company has risen to a leading position in its field, offering high-quality textiles and related products to professionals and consumers, both in public spaces and private homes. The company is often involved in various projects related to exhibitions, installations, and individual art and design works.



What has been unique about Kvadrat since its beginning is its international collaboration with various designers and artists. “Collaboration is at the core of what we do,” Anders says. “While we have our own design teams, most of our work arises from discussions and cooperation with external parties.” In the early days, these included figures like Nanna Ditzel and Finn Juhl, and more recently Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec, Raf Simons, Olafur Eliasson, and Patricia Urquiola. “We are privileged to practically choose who we work with. We collaborate with established masters but also aim to showcase new talents,” Anders says. For the last 25 years, the emphasis has been on designers, but Anders reveals a secret: a new collaboration with a world-renowned artist will be launched in October. It marks a return to Kvadrat’s roots, when the company worked more closely with artists.


When Anders Byriel, the son of Poul Byriel, began working at Kvadrat 30 years ago, there were just under a hundred employees. Now the number is 11,000. In recent years, this important European textile industry operator has increasingly become an international force, with a strong focus on expanding its presence in Asia and America.



Kvadrat is a Danish company, but when talking to Anders, it seems that it doesn’t hold that much significance for him. While many companies build their image around their national brand, Kvadrat focuses on being, at the most, Scandinavian – if even that. Anders admits that he rarely talks about Denmark or being Danish – not because he doesn’t value his country; on the contrary, he considers those living in Denmark to be fortunate. However, what interests him more is erasing the boundaries between countries and focusing on something more significant. “Thinking only within the confines of national borders and trying to define what is what in design feels claustrophobic. Kvadrat is a cosmopolitan operator. It’s not about where you come from but what you bring with you and the values that drive you,” Anders says. But isn’t there something inherently Danish in a globally minded Kvadrat? “Perhaps it’s in how we run the company and maintain our corporate culture. Our structure is low hierarchical and egalitarian,” Anders concludes.


This year, Habitare’s theme, “Together,” addresses the challenges of our time and explores ways to solve them. Anders admits that he thought issues like the ones we face today would have been left far behind in the 1980s. “That was an era much like this one: full of gloom, unemployment, and the threat of nuclear war. But now we’re here, and we need to stick together,” Anders says. Employers, too, must keep up with the world’s changes. Kvadrat is a workplace with a strong sense of community and is beloved, but even the best workplace needs continuous development. Times change, methods change, and people’s expectations of their workplaces change. “We also need to change and reinvent ourselves while remaining together. It’s about finding a new balance,” Anders explains.




Balance is also required in our environment. The climate crisis has rightly put productive companies in the spotlight. New manufacturing operators must consciously make significant corrective moves to enable balance and sustainable development. In recent years, it has become popular to talk about sustainability and durability. Does Anders see actual actions behind the talk? “Things are definitely in motion, and that’s positive,” he says, “but I’m admittedly disappointed that the response isn’t stronger.” He believes that being an international company inherently involves taking responsibility. Kvadrat wants to be a pioneer in sustainability, driven by the values that have been with the company since its beginning. The company is transforming its production to be more sustainable, focusing on research, development, and circular economy. “It’s obvious that we are willing to sacrifice profits to do this. It’s necessary,” Anders says emphatically.


Anders mentions that he has been an activist and interested in sustainability from a young age. When he started at Kvadrat at the age of 26, he was shocked to see how little environmental issues were discussed in the business world. Thirty years have passed. “I’m a little bit optimistic,” he says with a smile. Perhaps young activist Anders wouldn’t have to be disappointed anymore.




We asked seven questions from our new friend.
Get to know Anders