Founded in late 2019, Bien Mal is the business and creative outlet for Venezuelan husband and wife team Bea and Iván, based in Brooklyn, New York. We spoke to Bea to find out more about the inspiration and work behind their range of beautiful Jacquard woven blankets.
Where does your name come from?
Bien Mal is a common expression in Spanish. It’s a very strange expression because it’s the most absolute oxymoron ever. Separately Bien means good and Mal means bad, but when used together it’s an expression that translates roughly to ‘very badly’. We love these kinds of language nuances that get jumbled in translation and gain new life. For example ’Very Badly’ in English has a way more positive vibe than in Spanish, you could say to someone ’I want you very badly’. We love that.
What is your background?
Bien mal was founded by my husband and me in late 2019, both as a business and as a creative outlet. We are a couple of Venezuelan immigrants based in Brooklyn. We’ve been in New York for the past five years, and we have a combined background in Design, Tech, and Law. Of course, you add those together, and you get woven blankets!
How did you start working with textiles?
It started with a search for a medium for Iván’s artwork. He is the artist and illustrator behind every Bien Mal blanket. We always wanted to build a brand and a business around his work. All we needed was to find a medium that could bring warmth, colour, and the right feel to people’s homes. We thought of large-format paintings, glicée printed posters, etc. but realized soon that Jacquard woven blankets were the perfect combination of scale, texture, and sentiment we were looking for. We both love architecture and interior design. We also love how a beautiful blanket can transform a space. Also, I am always cold, so I’m biased.
Who/what are your biggest influences?
We are forever inspired by artists like David Hockney, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe. Charles and Ray Eames are absolute idols for us. Alvar Aalto, Kenya Hara, Dieter Rams, I mean the list of influences is long.
How do you develop your designs?
Iván starts with a particular idea or a feeling. Then focuses on objects or situations that symbolize those ideas or feelings. All the designs are part of a larger narrative that ties them together. Even though the themes revolve around life, death, nature, loss, routine, and other deep meanings, the designs are meant to be approachable and inspire openness and kindness. The colour palette is crucial to the designs and also one of the most technically challenging parts of the process. Achieving specific colours for this type of fabric is not very straight forward.
What’s your process of working? For us, it is a very harmonious and non-stop collaboration. While I tend to focus on the business and marketing side of things, Ivan focuses on the Design. We take all the photography ourselves; I love photography and rarely spend a single day without using my camera. We both want Bien Mal to never feel like work, so our process is intentionally unstructured and fluid.
Where do you work from and how do you like to work? WFH! Even before Covid-19, we preferred to work from our apartment in Williamsburg. It’s a bright, spacious place, and we love to be close to the objects of our daily life. We blast music all day, preferably late 60’s soul grooves. Where can people buy your throws? Exclusively at Bienmal.com - We offer international shipping to pretty much anywhere in the world.