Weaving International Threads

“Woven Forms” invites designers to experiment with a new medium.

Introducing ten international designers to carpet-making was the challenge behind “Woven Forms,” a series of special edition rugs that launched as a satellite project at the Venice Biennale last month. “None of the artists had worked with carpet before, so it was an exciting opportunity for them to experiment with an unfamiliar material,” explains R & Company’s co-founder Evan Snyderman, who spearheaded the project with Ferid Amini of the namesake Italian carpet manufacturer. Rather than resorting to printing a pre-existing image onto fabric, each participant was required to take a holistic approach and consider all corners of the creative process. The project proved an exercise in innovation. The Haas Brothers took animal hide as their starting point, recreating now-extinct and fantasy creatures, such as the dodo and woolly mammoth, in dazzling colors. “The carpets have become animated with a joyful and fantastical flamboyance,” they say. For Dana Barnes, a collection of antique Persian rugs she acquired from an estate sale offered a sturdy foundation, onto which she bonded layers of wool fibers “using a multiple needle tool, specially designed in my studio.” After the designers presented their ideas, Snyderman and Amini approached weaving factories in India and Nepal to help realise the proposals. Each carpet is made from natural wool and silk, and took around six months to produce due to the intricate hand-weaving, patterning and dying methods involved. Wendell Castle’s rug contains around 160 colors, ten times that of a standard carpet; Rogan Gregory’s creation, not measuring much more than nine feet, weighs over 500 pounds. These luxurious objects will be displayed at Design Miami this month. “We didn’t want to show the carpets in the typical fashion,” underlines Snyderman, “as they are really works of art.”

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