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Twisting the kaleidoscope: Zollanvari International’s new 2020 rug collections

August 07, 2020

Denna Jones considers how Zollanvari's new collections of hand-knotted rugs can uplift us and help redefine our ‘new normal’

Life before March 2020 is often described with the sci-fi term ’The Before Time’. This freighted phrase with its undertone of loss describes life before COVID-19. Our ’new normal’ finds us focussed on our homes as both refuge and work space. 

Zollanvari International’s new 2020 collections of hand-knotted rugs remind us of the visual and tactile comfort of ‘before time’ as they imbue us with hope for the future. Updated legacy designs renew our spirits with joyful fractal visions and abundant references to nature. Zollanvari reveals these six new Studio Designer Collections during the digital edition of the interior design trade fair Maison et Objet, 4-18 September 2020. 

<em>Kaleidoscope 1<em> Gabbehs Abstract Plain Zollanvari Studio

Two of the collections—Kaleidoscope and Naïf—are particularly relevant tonics for the times we inhabit. Kaleidoscope captures the magic of vistas transformed when observed through the fractal viewfinder of a childhood kaleidoscope. The almost inexpressible joy of nature is revealed in the Naïf collection. The rugs reflect the designs of generations of semi-nomadic artisan weavers who memorized patterns and sometimes incorporated their own expressive elements. The joy and originality of these Gabbeh designs and techniques are manifest in Zollanvari’s new interpretations. 

‘Oh, the childhood memories of looking down a kaleidoscope and turning it furiously to create magical patterns in wondrous colours!’ is how Zollanvari introduces its Kaleidoscope Studio Designer collection. Available in custom colours and sizes, the collection’s abstract Gabbeh (a type of handwoven rug whose origin evolved from its initial purpose as a thick and cozy sleeping mat) is fractal and psychedelically colourful. Interrupted, reverberant black lines punctuate each colour stroke. Orange, electric blue, ultraviolet, sunshine yellow, and grass green join a saturated fuchsia pink (heralded by British Vogue in 2020 as ‘political pink;’ a shade that is ‘driving millennial purchase power’). The pattern captures the frenzy of endless rotating fractal visions, but it also calls to mind the zingy psychedelic-like ’electric‘ and ‘magnetic’ fractal-cats painted in watercolour and gouache by English Outsider artist Louis Wain (1860–1939).

Zollanvari’s Naïf collection features three Gabbeh hand-knotted rugs. ’A childlike visualisation,’ is how Zollanvari Studio describes Lambkins (a young lamb and also a term of endearment for young children). This Gabbeh design imaginatively reinterprets traditional nomadic rug patterns where the West’s rule of perspective to create three-dimensional illusion has no relevance. Instead a highly imaginative flat register of colourful patchwork mountains hosts lithe-limbed lambkins as they gambol and graze across the idyllic landscape. 

Poppies in the Naïf collection features ‘nature as if observed through a child’s eyes’. A field of multicoloured poppy heads Zollanvari describes as ’impressionistic,’ are joined by a few poppy shapes that stray into pure imagination. The flowers float in space in a manner similar to artist Takashi Murakami’s ‘jellyfish eyes’. Aspects of his 2013 children’s film of the same name align with Zollanvari’s kaleidoscopic and naïve childhood-related view of life. ’Misunderstanding’ an image, Murakami says, ‘produces something new and interesting’. Murakami uses misunderstanding to mean a fresh, new perspective. Zollanvari’s designs also invite ‘misunderstanding’ as they enable us to adopt a new perspective on the world as the kaleidoscope twists and our viewpoint refreshes.

If we choose to look outside our cloud of longing for The Before Time and instead adopt Zollanvari’s kaleidoscopic twist and train the lens on new vistas, we too can find the joy that exists in our ‘new normal’. Scroll for a selection of rugs from each of Zollanvari’s other four collections that will be officially revealed in September. 

<em>Zagros Songlines a la Fontana 1<em> Tribal Aborigine Zollanvari Studio
<em>The Name of the Rose 1<em> Gabbehs Flora Fauna Zollanvari Studio
<em>Constance 1<em> Traces Collection Gabbehs Abstract Plain Zollanvari Studio
<em>Gol o Bolbol 1<em> Tree of Life Collection Gabbehs Flora Fauna Zollanvari Studio

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