This September The Rug Company unveils a collection of four new rugs from British fashion maverick Jonathan Saunders at the London Design Festival (13 – 21 September 2014). Two area rugs (called Herringbone and Nouveau) and two runners (called Harrington and Hutton) showcase the designer’s talent for juxtaposing what might at first appear incongruous colours, creating harmony where you might expect discord. Before receiving international acclaim as a fashion designer, Scottish-born Saunders studied printed textiles at both the Glasgow School of Art and Central St Martins. It was here that he honed his talent for colour and pattern which would become the hallmarks of his style. And Saunders is no stranger to collaboration: he is also Creative Director of Pollini, has produced collections for Target and Top Shop and worked with Siobhan Davies Dance.
Despite the traditional associations of the name, Saunder’s new Herringbone rug is anything but old-fashioned. He transforms the zigzags of the weaving technique into a bold graphic using an unexpected palette of rust, pink, sky blue and leaf green. The Nouveau rug exploits the sinuous shapes of Art Nouveau, its repeated motif reminiscent of the decorative flourishes found in René Lalique’s glass. But Saunders again surprises with his surreal colour combination, putting paid to the saying ‘blue and green should never be seen’.
Saunders cites the architectural aspects of Charlotte Perriand’s work as the inspiration for his Harrington runner, which dazzles in almost fluorescent tones. The second runner, Hutton, was inspired by vintage wallpaper, but the contemporary twist is Saunders’ signature clashing hues. Suzanne Sharp, Creative Director of The Rug Company, explained that is was the designer’s colour sense which drew her to Saunders’ work: “As a lover of colour, I have always admired Jonathan’s fearless and irreverent attitude towards it. His colour and fabric combinations are so original and exciting, they never fail to impress.”
The collection is hand-knotted in Tibetan wool and the high-quality synonymous with the Rug Company is perfectly in keeping with Saunders’ approach to design and manufacture. He says, ‘Luxury for me is about craftsmanship. I’m lucky I live in a time when the consumer wants something that’s innovative, that stands out from the crowd.’ It’s an approach a world away from the culture of his Glaswegian roots. Following his first show at London Fashion Week in 2003 he told Vogue magazine, ‘I think Scottish and Glaswegian culture is quite reserved. You can’t be showy. I think it’s quite humble in a way. Nobody gets too big for their boots.’
Jonathan Saunders will be in conversation with Christopher Sharp, co-founder of The Rug Company, on Thursday 18th September, 6 –8pm, at their flagship store at 555 King’s Road, London SW6 2EB. The event is part of The Chelsea Design Quarter’s programme for London Design Festival.