Designer Helena Rohner’s second rug collection for Spanish carpet manufacturer DAC RUGS celebrates the ‘simplicity of natural life’ and living in harmony with the natural world. A native of the Canary Islands—the Spanish archipelago of seven volcanic islands off the coast of Morocco—Rohner’s choice of jute as the main fibre celebrates the islands’ simple eternal pleasures: ‘whitewashed walls, clay floors, the breeze among the pines.’ The collection’s geometric motifs reflect the beauty of vernacular design—timeless, ‘ordinary’, functional objects and architecture—but they also reflect ‘the sculptural simplicity’ of Rohner’s jewellery designs.
The collection’s six rug designs are named after famous 20th-century creatives: artists Ellsworth Kelly, Diego Rivera, Pablo Picasso, Barbara Hepworth, designer Elsa Peretti, writer Susan Sontag, and architects Gae Aulenti and Lina Bo Bardi. Aside from Elsa, each rug has ‘small touches’ of colour created with wool fibre interwoven with jute. The degree of colour ranges from Susan’s hemp blocks thinly outlined in colour that suggests pages in a writer’s notebook, to the triangular expanse of blue in Barbara that seems to express the sea visible from the windows of Barbara Hepworth’s studio in the English seaside town of St Ives, Cornwall.
Jute is an inherently ‘planet positive’ fibre. Its sustainable properties and vernacular beauty are a perfect match for Rohner’s design objectives for the collection. ‘[I had] a desire to investigate the different techniques of weaving jute,’ while also highlighting the fibre’s ability to achieve ‘different types of texture.’ Rohner’s quest is seen at its most transparent in Elsa—the rug named after designer Elsa Peretti. This texture-rich rug has five simple-sided polygon ‘zones’ woven in different techniques in varied natural jute colours. The effect creates a 21st-century version of the ancient craft of ‘samplers’ where artisans created ‘specimens of achievement’ to demonstrate and promote complex skills within a single textile.
Rohner is an advocate of ‘slow design’—the growing movement that encourages design practitioners to celebrate life’s ‘small’ experiences and the material culture of everyday life through sustainable materials and techniques. Rohner’s choice of jute is important. The fibre is on the rebound after a too-long period of being considered an ‘unsophisticated’, ‘unfashionable’ fibre. Its raw, natural beauty is a perfect match for Rohner’s sculptural designs. A fast growing ‘super plant’, jute voraciously consumes carbon dioxide which it converts into oxygen.
Each rug in the Calma Collection is inherently unique due to jute’s idiosyncratic properties. Available in multiple sizes, the rugs can be custom sized too. The timeless beauty of the collection transcends fashion, supports sustainability, and expresses the traditional handmade craftsmanship of an ancient fibre.