Naked nature: unbleached and undyed handmade rugs—part 1

July 22, 2020

A growing trend for ‘rugs in the raw’ reflects comfort in a COVID-19 world. In the first of a two-part feature we delve into the background and ask designer Ilse Crawford and nanimarquina rugs to describe how their Wellbeing Collection captures a new kind of comfort

Ilse Crawford x nanimarquina Wellbeing Collection Photo by Albert Font

The definition of comfort in the home is changing. Where once we bought objects for the home without regard to the supply chain that produced them (often described as the object’s ‘provenance’), consumers increasingly find comfort in handmade objects that are safe and fair for people and the planet. 

‘Comfort’ as a quality in a textile or rug captures not only how the fibres feel against the skin, but increasingly reflects an industry term—the ‘hand’—a term that describes how fibres literally feel but also how they ‘feel’ psychologically. Comfort is—or should be—a whole body experience. 

Natural fibre rugs include plant-based linen, nettle, and hemp, but the majority of ‘natural’ fibre rugs are made of wool. Sheep breeds come in all shapes and sizes and the natural colours of their fleece range from light to dark. The rug industry standard is to bleach fibres and dye them to change the colour and create uniformity. The Ilse Crawford x nanimarquina Wellbeing Collection of unbleached and undyed rugs and textiles gave COVER an opportunity to ask each company to reflect on comfort in the COVID-19 era.

Ilse Crawford x nanimarquina Wellbeing Collection Photo by Albert Font


Wellbeing Collection Design Team: Ilse Crawford, Oscar Peña, Mickaël Wiesengrün

‘The Wellbeing Collection is a step towards conscious production that recognises wellbeing as part of the manufacturing process; after all, we are the system. The collection is the result of a values-led design process. The design of each piece was guided by criteria with the least negative impact on people (makers and end user) and the environment: local, responsibly sourced, processed and hand spun natural fibres, no bleach, and no dye. A clear decision to stick to these self-set limits allowed us and nanimarquina to prioritise a better product with straightforward quality control.

It’s an industry standard to bleach most fibres only to dye them again in order to facilitate a uniform look and erase blemishes. Bleaching chemicals are toxic to the makers, the environment and ultimately to consumers. The Wellbeing Collection focuses on selecting fibres more carefully while promoting the natural fibres’ qualities and shades.

As we went through nanimarquina’s fibre archive, it was clear to us that the rich beauty and qualities of natural fibres should be celebrated. The purity of wool, the flatness of nettle, the golden tones of summer-harvested jute and the silver tones of winter-harvested jute; these naturally beautiful fibres don’t need subtraction or augmentation. This collection relies on nature’s beauty and human skills to create a sensorial range of products that supports our lives in a healthy way.‘

Ilse Crawford x nanimarquina Wellbeing Collection Photo by Albert Font


Wellbeing Collection Design Team: Nani Marquina, Elisa Padrón, Nacho Epelde

‘Comfort is a feeling, an unconscious state normally provoked by the objects that surround us, the space where we are. and how they both affect us. Wellbeing is a conscious collection that takes us to the origins—to the austere, to a tactile beauty that awakens the senses and connects us with our inner being and brings us a sensation of comfort. These rugs focus on tactility, materiality, craft and quality. They add warmth and softness to  environments and make us feel better, comfortable around them.

People are becoming more aware of their comfort or discomfort during COVID-19. We’ve all been spending a lot of our time at home, paying more attention than ever to what surrounds us, and hopefully realising that the objects we choose are key to how we feel around them in our home. We want to understand who made them and how, and the impact they have on our planet. All of these issues have always mattered to nanimarquina, but COVID-19 has made us even more conscious of our actions as consumers as well as makers.‘

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