‘I was in heaven in 2019. My wife and I were in Cappadocia, Turkey visiting a good friend at Kirkit Rugs. We were trekking in the hills. There were lots of fruit trees. I saw a fruit I hadn’t tasted since I was nine years old. Black mulberry with a sweet-sour taste. I was in heaven eating the berries; like a child in a toy store. My wife took a photo of the flower fields surrounding us. I took some photos too and immediately I saw a rug design. I was very excited. I could see how the rug would have lots of perspective and a 3D effect. We showed Wildflowers Spring at Domotex in 2020. Floral rugs have fallen out of fashion in recent years, but this rug has been a best seller because it’s so different. We’ve just made it in a new colourway called Wildflowers Summer. It lifts my spirits to look at it.
Yes, definitely, my life is still colourful during lockdown. We’re all suffering because of COVID. Our lifestyles have changed and we’re in a new world. It’s been difficult to adjust, but it’s also been a benefit for me as lockdown has helped me focus on designing.
From March to June I designed rugs. It was very beneficial because I had no choice but to focus on designing—all the other things that normally come up in the day-to-day business were gone. I always look for a way to benefit from a situation even if it’s not a good one. I insulated myself. I stopped watching TV and the news. I was really focussed on designing. That focus helped me a lot. Designing kept me on the other side of the work—the dream work. In three months I had fifteen—maybe sixteen—designs that are now in production in Nepal. By mid-June the creating mood slowly disappeared. When I’m in the mood I design night and day. It’s a very emotional thing. I take advantage of the mood as much as I can.
We will have some very interesting collections to reveal at the end of 2020. I visited Nepal six times last year but this year not at all. I attempted twice but both flights were cancelled. Our factory in Nepal where we dye our fibres closed during lockdown and reopened in July, but our weavers were able to carry on because the fifteen or so weavers in each weaving house form a type of protective “bubble”. There’s no interaction with the outside world. Our factory just closed again because there’s been a new virus outbreak in Kathmandu, but fortunately a lot of our dyeing—60% or so—got done before the second lockdown. The only production hold-up is with the dyeing.
The new designs will create three new collections. One of the features that separates Wool & Silk from other rug companies is our textures. The focus for each new collection is different textures. Two of the collections are wool and silk blend—one is a transitional collection—but both focus on more organic textures. The third is 100% silk that are very colourful, abstract designs. We developed a very special and unusual silk yarn last year. When it’s woven it creates a tribal and organic texture. One of the three collections has proved the most challenging because the texture in the samples is still not right. Too flat. So we’re still working on it and will until it matches exactly the look that’s in my mind.
For us to be successful, the industry needs to be healthy. We all benefit when the industry is healthy. My rug designs take a lot of effort, love, patience and time. It makes me work harder when I see a beautiful rug designed by someone else. That’s what I mean when I say we all benefit. I think that’s the lesson for success and for leading a “colourful” life whether the world is “normal” or whether it’s a world in lockdown’.