At this year's DOMOTEX in Hannover, Simone Post was a worthy winner in the 'Best Design in Studio Artist Rugs' category of the Carpet Design Awards (CDA) for her Vlisco Rug. The rug is original, using recycled waste materials from the Dutch brand Vlisco's production of batik fabrics, which are folded and cut, using specially developed techniques, to create a circular rug with a contemporary look. With this project, the young Dutch designer not only highlights the many exciting possibilities for upcycling scrap materials, but also channels an entirely new aesthetic for 'floor tapestries'.
Innovative materials are the key to the success of manufacturers such as the Belgian brand Papilio. Papilio's rug Canvas, made from patches of canvas cut from recycled army tents, cross-stitched together with leather thonging, was one of the finalists in the 'Best Innovation' category of the Carpet Design Awards in 2016. One of the hallmarks of Papilio's collections is the use of recycled materials, such as bicycle inner tubes, car fan belts, cardboard, leather and blankets. Various weaving techniques are employed to create intriguing structures and textures with these materials. This year, Papilio unveiled its on-trend Rope Hope rug, which was designed by Sep Verboom as part of the Livable project, and is made from recycled ropes used by fishermen in the Philippines.
Every year in April, the well-known Italian carpet manufacturer Nodus presents a new, visually striking collection of hand-woven and hand-tufted carpets at the Milan Design Week. Estudio Campana's highly original Circus rug for Nodus, made from hemp and rag dolls, impressed the CDA jurors at DOMOTEX back in 2011, when the company was named the winner in the category 'Best Innovation'. This year's Design Week showcased the rugs Bala Perdida and Veneza Carioca by David Elia, the former featuring cartridges and bullet holes as design elements, while the latter incorporates plastic flip-flops.
Meanwhile the British designer Faye Toogood also presented her new collection this year under the title 'Inventory'. Toogood designed this collection for the Italian carpet manufacturer cc-tapis. For Toogood, it is all about materials, craft skills, and delight in experimentation. As a result, she introduces entirely new design elements into the surface texture of carpet designs such as her Quilt and Rope.
It is a combination of the traditional weaver's art and cutting-edge design that makes contemporary carpets and rugs such a fascinating medium. In January 2017, at the most recent DOMOTEX in Hannover, the Turkish firm Kirkit exhibited a range of flatweave rugs made from recycled hemp, and featuring bold, eye-catching patterning. They represent a unique blend of traditional and contemporary motifs – a popular look, much sought-after in today's interior design market.
The same applies to Zollanvari's Trompe L'Oeil Roman Empire collection. The design by the Italian label SoFar SoNear won an award in the CDA 2013 'Best Innovation' category for its successful fusion of Eastern and Western design motifs. The jurors were particularly impressed by the special UV printing technology, which is used to transfer photographic images onto the kilims.
But innovation is not confined solely to rugs with a contemporary aesthetic. The 17th Century Modern collection from the London label Knot Rugs takes the most beautiful carpet designs from several centuries ago and overlays them with modern motifs, such as forms reminiscent of skulls. Work on the collection extended over several years. Special processes such as oxidation are used to age the surfaces artificially, without diminishing the intensity of the colours or the sharp definition of line.
The new Rug Star Tuft collection from the Berlin carpet label Rug Star, unveiled at DOMOTEX 2017 in Hannover, takes the craft of tufting to a whole new level. The intricately hand-knotted designs, inspired by ancient Persian rugs, are reinterpreted as boldly tufted landscapes. None of the fine detail is lost, while at the same time the surface texture takes on a new and fascinating dimension.
Just by seeing or feeling the texture of a rug, it is often possible to intuit its internal make-up and structure. Kentenci's latest collection, which entranced many visitors to this year's DOMOTEX in January, stands out for its unique and harmonious aesthetic, featuring pale, delicate colours and fine, lustrous surfaces. To achieve this unique, silky patina, Kentenci has its rugs woven in Nepal and finished in Turkey.
The London label Ayka Design, whose rugs, such as Vase and Beauty, have an unmistakably individual look, specialises in designs with unique textural qualities. Owner and designer Karen Michelle Evans has developed a technique that enables her to achieve greater pile heights, while still being able to create a clearly identifiable pattern or image. Even minor adjustments to the surface texture can have a dramatic effect on the overall design.
The surface of a rug betrays its origins and history to the trained observer. These ten rugs not only embody the innovative processes that brought them into being, but also illustrate the astonishing richness and diversity of the contemporary carpet weaver's art. Today's designers not only consider the artistic merits of new materials and techniques; they also take their environmental responsibilities seriously, and embrace the possibilities of upcycling and eco-friendly production methods. (KD)
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