We have a friend crush on New Friends, a Brooklyn-based textile studio made up of Kelly Rakowski (full disclosure: a photo editor at Fast Company) and Alexandra Segreti. The pair uses a simple frame loom and a Navajo comb—one of the oldest forms of weaving—to make textiles that hang on walls like wild and wooly 3-dimensional paintings.
"I taught myself to weave using a children’s book," Rakowski says. She and Segreti met through the Internet in 2009, when Rakowski worked as a graphic designer for Todd Oldham and Segreti worked as a textile designer for Urban Outfitters. They discovered each other’s blogs and mutual love of textiles—both were fans of Sheila Hicks’s fiber art, the Bauhaus’s weavings, and indigenous folk designs.
Rakowski decided she wanted to try her hand at the traditional art form herself, and she and Segreti, who lived in different cities at the time, started sending each other yarn and design ideas. They met in real life a few months later, and the new friends founded New Friends. Now, their geometric and colorful work has been exhibited with Matter at New York Design Week and sells in shops like Beklina, Matter, Totokaelo, Beautiful Dreamers, and Fern Handcrafted.
The duo also creates home and fashion accessories in addition to weavings. One of their sold-out collections, "Best Woof," was inspired by sheep and dogs. "We’re really into dogs," Rakowski says.
In "Best Woof for Sight Unseen," a collaboration with new online printing venture Print All Over Me, New Friends pays homage to canines with matching sweatpants and sweatshirts printed with images of a skateboarding bulldog, a dreadlocked sheepdog, and a pack of Alsatians.
New Friends’ wall hangings, rugs, and pillows are made on commission. "We don’t want to work like an assembly line where we make one thing over and over. I’d rather think of the textiles more as individual art pieces," Rakowski says. Some clients will give them free reign to make whatever they want, while others will specify colors, patterns, or designs. "One client gave us pictures of her vacation and told us to interpret them as a textile," Rakowski says.
A master of both the loom and the animated GIF, Rakowski does all of this weaving work on top of being Photo Editor extraordinaire for both Co.Design and Co.Exist. Segreti recently quit her day job to focus full time on weaving. Their textiles can be purchased on commission, and their collection Best Woof for Sight Unseen (dog sweatpants!) is available here.