Johanna Howard Marries Design and Tradition
I was instantly drawn to the vibrant colors and Scandinavian-inspired design of Johanna Howard’s pillows — then when I discovered her unflinching commitment to sustainability and artisanal practices, I was hooked! Johanna has effortlessly married refined design aesthetics with the craftsmanship of yesteryears, working with top artisans from all over the world.
The roots of Johanna Howard’s designs hail from her native country of Sweden. She grew up sitting in her mother’s atelier as she diligently crafted dresses by hand, thus began Johanna’s appreciation for quality handcrafted products. Her childhood also left her with a love for the clean elegance of Scandinavian design.
Johanna took her talents to America where she attended fashion school and began to establish herself as a successful clothing designer with roles at BCBG, Katayone Adeli, Express, and Gap. Her designs were accessible and whether her designs were on the pages of Vogue or in the everyday woman’s closet, they made women feel special.
Johanna has now turned her attention to designing for the home. Throughout her travels, she has discovered a realm of talented artisans and craftspeople to turn her refined designs into quality handmade goods. From the dyers in the highlands of Peru to the families of weavers in Portugal, she collaborates with these artisans for all of her home accessories. The result? A breathtaking marriage of cultures, creativity, design, and tradition.
What makes Johanna’s luxury home decor truly stand out is her ability to utilize a sustainable — but still luxurious — fiber. While a staple in most luxury products, cashmere production is having a devastating environmental impact through intensive and destructive grazing. Instead, Johanna Howard uses the sustainable alternative of alpaca wool. They live in harmony with the environment, with traditional techniques still being used by Andean herdsmen to raise small, free-range herds. The Peruvian people have thousands of years of experience weaving and knitting with alpaca fiber. Johanna Howard continues to work with small, family-owned, fair trade producers to marry centuries old Peruvian craftsmanship with the modern design aesthetic of Scandinavia.
Alpaca wool is often referred to as “The Treasure of the Andes Mountain” because of its unparalleled softness and warmth. While it was once only reserved for the Pre-Incan elite and nobility, The National Resources Defense Council strongly recommends the use of alpaca fiber instead of unsustainable cashmere. It’s been a prized luxurious fiber for over 6,000 years. The indigenous people of Peru domesticated the alpacas that roamed the Andes and they continued to be a vital resource as they built the famed Incan Empire. They were first only two distinct breeds of Alpaca, but now they have been developed to come in over 20 natural shades including soft camel, creamy white, grey, and a rich black.
Not only is alpaca wool better for the environment, but it’s also far superior to sheep’s wool and cashmere in other aspects as well. Those who suffer from wool allergies will find alpaca wool a hypoallergenic option because it doesn’t contain lanolin. The fibers are longer and hollow so they are less likely to pill, longer-lasting, lightweight, water-resistant, and up to 30% warmer than merino wool. Johanna Howard Home utilizes this amazing fiber in a myriad of colors, both in natural or dyed in a vibrant array of colors.
While a beautiful throw pillow or blanket seems like an easy purchase, ensuring you’re buying and supporting fair-trade artisans is an important aspect of that purchase. Filling your space with luxury home decor and a brand with practices you truly believe in? Best decision made.
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