Haptic Lab Founder Emily Fischer Keeps It Warm and Cozy

The quilter, who grew up in rural Wisconsin, recommends her favorite winter essentials.
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Wisconsin-raised and now Brooklyn-based Emily Fischer, founder and designer of Haptic Lab, who describes her childhood winters as "surface-of-the-moon cold," is perpetually pursuing coziness and warmth. Longtime fans of Fischer’s work are likely familiar with her signature celestial and city quilts and sailing ship kites, but Haptic Lab also makes various other home goods from Earth pillows to stuffed zodiac-inspired creatures. The general throughline with all her releases is that they’re constructed from textiles that offer texture and tactility. "My mom is visually impaired so I designed the first quilts when she had her first cornea transplant. The idea was that the quilts are meant to be touched and not something you were supposed to see," explains Fischer of how she landed on her company name. "The quilting lines for the city quilts act as a mnemonic device for feeling the neighborhood you lived in." 

Haptic Lab Founder Emily Fischer Keeps It Warm and Cozy - Photo 1 of 1 -

The cosmo quilts are similarly intricately layered. The machine-stitched lines take shape as a globe, mapping out the longitudinal and latitudinal lines of a night sky. Next, 42 hand-stitched constellations orbit the center. Topping it all off are Milky Way stars that spill across the quilt, represented by hundreds of tiny French knots, a non-intuitive technique that Fischer has to relearn every time by watching a YouTube video. 

The quilt-making process is a time-consuming but ultimately rewarding one. Fischer, back when she launched in 2009, planned to use a computerized sewing machine but it was too difficult to program hundreds of files for the designs she wanted. Instead, she went back to hand-making her quilts, eventually partnering with quilters in India whom Fischer has now been working with for 13 years. Fischer also strives to preserve tradition in her work: "I use what I call the Amish rules quilting where you need a stitch every two to four inches. If you don’t have a stitch going all the way through, it’s not considered a quilt," she says. "All the old quilt ladies I learned from back in Wisconsin were very particular about that."

Quilts come in extra handy in Fischer’s Bed-Stuy row house that she shares with her husband and child. Because the building is old, drafty, and replacing all the windows is costly, Fischer uses quilts as a thermal insulator on the walls. She also hangs them from doorways to preserve the heat in the winter (or the chill in the summer) amidst a changing world. "The other thing I try to do in my work is sneak in a little activism," Fischer says of Haptic Lab, which is a Certified B Corporation. "The coastal quilts are based on sea-level changes and the maps as they exist now will look completely different in 50 to 100 years. Even parts of the Chesapeake Bay quilt that I made eight years ago are no longer on the map." Above her bed is a quilted map of the Arctic, which Fischer mentions will be ice-free within our lifetime. "Every time I look at it, it compels me to do more."

Haptic Lab Hudson Valley Quilt

Haptic Lab Hudson Valley Quit
Inspired by the natural beauty of the Hudson River Valley and 19th century American folk art, this unforgettable project is a must-have for anyone who loves upstate.

"Haptic Lab quilts are made for year-round use, but I love to layer them with other bedding in winter. Our quilts are thick, warm, and soften beautifully with age and use. (A fancy linen duvet cover I splurged on fell apart like an old Kleenex in a year, so I tossed a bunch of quilt samples on my bed and I'm never going back to duvets again.) I love being buried in quilts."

Threddies Slouch Socks

Threddies Slouch Socks
Long, thick, scrunchable ribbed top with nice stretch for comfortable wear. Slimmer fit in the foot, with reinforced heels, and extra cushioning on the bottom and in the toe. Knit using slub yarn, which gives these slouchies an intentionally textured feel.   

"The best socks I’ve ever owned. More like a sock with a built-in leg warmer. I wear these with leggings. I own over 20 pairs."

Donna Wilson Hot Water Bottle

Donna Wilson Hot Water Bottle
Made from 100% lambswool, knitted in Scotland. Natural rubber water bottle included.

"My family jokes that I have lizard blood because I am always cold. I like to slip a hot water bottle under the sheets before bed to keep my feet warm. Donna Wilson’s work makes me smile. I have a mermaid bottle and my daughter has the owl bottle."

Eggplant Marinara from The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual

The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual
The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Kitchen Manual will seduce both experienced home cooks and a younger audience that is newer to the kitchen.

"The Eggplant Marinara recipe in the Frankies Sputino cookbook is my ultimate winter comfort food, and the thing I make to share with friends who are going through tough times. You can eat it on a sandwich or with pasta. One note: I recommend cutting the amount of pecorino in half."

Mater Serum

Mater Serum
Light enough for daily use, this gentle and nourishing formulation absorbs quickly, leaving your skin renewed with a radiant glow. For all skin types, all genders and all ages.

"I have extremely reactive skin that hates dry winter air. A nice all-purpose face oil really helps, and Mater is one of my absolute favorite local brands."

Primecut Winter Whites Backpack

Primecut Bags Winter Whites Backpack
Stay fashionable while being practical! Our backpack is the perfect hands-free purse. Fits a 13” Macbook.

"I’ve been an Instagram fan of Primecut Bags for ages and I finally got to see them in person last August. Their patchwork shearling bags are like carrying around a fuzzy pet you can hug. The essence of coziness."

Haptic Lab DIY Solar System Quilt Kit

Haptic Lab DIY Solar System Quilt Kit
Sew your own 36 x 48" map of the Solar System. These quilt projects make great keepsakes and wall-hangings. Personalize your map with embroidered details like French knot asteroids or the names of your favorite planets and moons.

"Winter is the time for crafts! Quilt projects are a great way to be cozy while channeling extra energy into something meaningful. I love listening to an audiobook on Libby while working on a new quilt. I’m starting to quilt again just for fun at home."

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Jinnie Lee
Dwell Contributor
Jinnie Lee is a freelance culture writer based in New York City.


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