Charlotte McGeehan has always felt a natural affinity toward rugged landscapes. The Melbourne local, an avowed globetrotter, recalls being particularly moved by the breathtaking beauty of Iceland’s stark and craggy terrain. And when she read Burial Rites, a novel by Hannah Kent that touches upon the country’s rich female-led weaving traditions in the early 19th century, McGeehan felt motivated to dive even deeper. “The way Kent writes is so visually compelling,” she recalls. “It propelled me to think about craft from that period—the practicality and necessity of knowing how to weave, spin, and knit,” which in turn prompted her to research Iceland’s craft history, trade, and techniques.
McGeehan, who works as an in-house designer for Tsar Carpets, channeled her learnings into the Australian brand’s latest collection. Named “Sierra” in a nod to jagged terrain, it features an array of natural, earthy tones in five distinct patterns inspired by the variety of landscapes traversed during her travels. The highly textural Loam fondly recalls a mini-excursion to Melbourne’s picturesque Mornington Peninsula—“an area that has beautifully textural cliffs enclosing the beach,” she says. The slightly cracked appearance of Remnant and Terra, meanwhile, evokes the earthy plains of San Gimignano in Tuscany and the sun-streaked settings of Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.
Translating the earthy textures of terrain onto flooring—specifically Tsar’s broadloom Axminster carpet that uses 80 percent durable New Zealand wool—was no small feat. Each texture is derived from McGeehan’s experimental and labor-intensive hand, seersucker, and jacquard weaving techniques, which were then digitally translated into carpet. The biggest challenge? “Doing the carpet fabrics justice,” she says, noting that carpet requires different treatment than other hand-woven pieces. “The jacquard found in the Weathered pattern was so layered. I needed to simplify it for it to work on carpet, but I still managed to retain the original look and concept. I didn’t want it to look too busy or flat, so striking that balance was a challenge.”
Another challenge involved presenting the collection during a pandemic. Instead of staging an elaborate photoshoot, Tsar Carpets enlisted the Italian image production firm Nova Visualis to render Sierra’s patterns in dynamic interior scenes to pristine, almost utopian effect. McGeehan agrees—she notes the studio’s ability to “realistically capture digital experiences while evoking a positive and beautiful motif” that embodies the collection’s essence.” The market may be catching on, too. “Futuristic aesthetics are influencing real environments today,” she explains. “When it comes to renders, the creative possibilities seem limitless. It provides a wider opportunity to incorporate interior elements that elevate and underpin the collection’s overarching theme: the future of hospitality.”
Though the irony of digitally rendering a nature-inspired collection isn’t lost on us, Sierra pens a subtle ode to the outdoors during a time when it’s out of reach for many. Therein lies the collection’s true power, whether a quick glimpse sparks nostalgia of your favorite vacation or inspires your next one when the pandemic subsides.