Norwegian design brand Heymat produces high-quality, beautiful doormats that keep the elements outside. Founded by Sonja Djonne, who lives in the north of Norway, the mats were made after she realized that industrial office mats had fantastic functionality for her needs at home, but didn’t look very nice.
Bringing together form and function, Djonne created Heymat and regularly partners with artists and designers to create unique, colorful, and visually interesting doormats that liven up any threshold while making sure your floors stay clean.
We spoke with Heymat founder Sonja Djonne about why she started the business, what inspires the brand’s designs, and what it’s like to live near the Arctic Circle:
Can you share a little bit about you and your background. You’re third generation of an industrial cleaning and laundry services family, right? I’m really curious about the pivot into design!
Yes! My husband is the third generation in a laundry services family. His grandmother started the laundry in the early 1950s. Then his father took it over, then my husband took over in 1994. One of thee main products they clean are rental mats – these mats that are in the malls and offices that the cleaning company or the laundry change every week or so.
So we always had these mats around. I saw that they were really functional; our children were small at that time, and we also have a dog. I saw that mats helped me keep my home cleaner for a longer period of time; for a family with small children, that’s a really good thing!
I thought to myself, this is such a good product but it doesn’t look good! I wanted to make it available to families who could use something similar. I’ve always been interested in design, ever since I was young, but I don’t have any education in design. When I made Heymat, I combined my interest for design with my husband’s industrial cleaning service.
What kind of design are you specifically interested in? Would you say it’s very Scandinavian?
I think it’s a very Scandinavian style. Heymat is definitely established in the Scandinavian design history; clean and minimal.
How has living in Norway has impacted your design process and goals?
Oh, I don’t even know where to start! The Norwegian design tradition is about making beautiful products for every day life. Everybody has a doormat, but nobody has really reflected on the design of it. You just…have it there.
I’m a practical person, so I like items that have great functionality. For example, I could never have a chair if it was not possible to sit in it comfortably. Things should be beautiful, but also useful.
We live in the north of Norway, near the Arctic Circle. Here we have a lot of snow and rain, and a lot of wet weather in general. So, what works for the weather here will work pretty much anywhere! The landscape is so extreme here. So you could say that Heymat can keep even the Arctic Circle out of your home!
In addition, many of our designers are inspired by the Norwegian landscape, which is also a very Scandinavian feature.
You work with some really interesting designers and you seem to work with a lot of women. Is that a conscious decision or did it happen by chance?
It just happened by chance! We do have one male designer. But we love working with all of these talented designers.
How do you decide who to work with? What do you see in a designer that makes you want to work with them?
We have an in-house designer. She helps me with an overview of what is going on and with managing the different designers. She’s always on top of the trends.
We choose designers whose work is interesting to us in some way; it doesn’t have to be textile design; it could be anything. We typically ask two to four designers to make sketches on each collection brief that we make. We’re always considering the next step; what do we need in our product range? What is missing?
When we work with a designer, it’s a really close collaboration. We’re working together to find a style that appeals to all of us, and is also the right direction for the brand.
Do you have one design that’s your favorite, or that you love for a special reason?
We have a mat called Sand, inspired by Japanese zen gardens. It is really beautiful and delicate, designed by Kristine Five Melvær. That’s a favorite.
See more on Heymat.