During the pandemic lockdown, when the world screeched to a halt yet was in complete disarray, Steven Johanknecht was seeking balance. And the most fulfilling medium for the Commune co-founder to reckon with the dualities of “thought and emotion, order and tension,” as he describes, turned out to be through creating small paintings with repeated and repositioned patterns evoking the geometric patterns of vintage midcentury Scandinavian rugs. “I make all these moves until everything coexists with depth and intensity that seems balanced to me,” he tells Surface. “They paint themselves at a certain point.”
Two years later, the meditative paintings received a second life as the Abstrakt collection of hand-knotted wool rugs. To translate his canvases into floor coverings, Johanknecht looked no further than Christopher Farr, the beloved American purveyor of made-to-order handmade rugs which, like Commune, has a lengthy history of collaborating with luminaries to translate their visions into unfamiliar mediums. Unlike most traditional Swedish rugs, which are either flat-woven rollakans or shaggy ryas, using hand-knotted wool attains an unexpected texture and allows the Abstrakt series to fit seamlessly into a wide variety of interiors. That also goes for the campaign’s site at the Wright Ranch, a Brutalist structure designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s grandson, Erik, who tinted its concrete structure to match Malibu’s sunset-hued coastal terrain.