Three product designers and two rug company directors, whose combined experience of producing collaborative collections is unrivalled, discuss their projects, careers and companies. Touching upon the importance in maintaining a sense of childlike play and working from the heart, to maintaining long-lasting relationships with craftspeople and connecting them to consumers, to the rise of wall-hangings, approaches to texture and colour, the definition of luxury, finding experimental collaborators and the opportunities to be creatively productive that 2020 brought, this remarkable panel of creatives demonstrates the expansive potential of collaboration.
Bethan Ryder, the chair of this discussion, is a design journalist and editorial director of leading global trend forecaster WGSN. She has more than twenty years’ experience in design, interiors and travel journalism and has held senior positions at Elle Decoration, Wallpaper* and Telegraph Luxury. She has written for numerous titles including Hole & Corner, The Observer Design, Sunday Times Style, Interior Design and the Evening Standard, and has written four books on bar, restaurant and club interiors, published by Laurence King. She hosts a sporadic podcast, ‘Design Principles’, in her spare time.
Kiki van Eijk has avoided creating anything similar to her influential graduation project in 2000, Kiki Carpet, for years because, ‘I didn’t want to just be the girl with the rugs.’ The Dutch designer is known for fantastical designs from whimsical clocks to wall hangings for Google and poetic window displays for Hermès as well as rug collections for Nodus and Moooi. Her wide range of works includes carpets, lighting, furniture, ceramics, glassware and textiles inspired by the smallest details of the everyday and by the forms of nature, many of which are on show in ‘Imaginings’ at the TextielMuseum, Tilburg to September 2021.
Fabrizio Cantoni is, with Nelcya Chamszadeh, co-founder of cc-tapis, an Italian company producing hand-knotted rugs created in Nepal by Tibetan artisans. A strong respect for the materials and for the culture of this ancient craft is reflected in the company’s eco-friendly approach to every step of production, ranging from the hand spinning of the softest Himalayan wool to the use of purified rainwater for the washing of the final products.
Instead of mass production, cc-tapis aims to offer a tailored service to those who understand and enjoy a high-end product. Its design team lead by art-director Daniele Lora innovates through a new approach to traditional methods and has also produced collaborative collections with more than thirty-five top designers, including Bethan Laura Wood.
Bethan Laura Wood has run a multidisciplinary studio characterised by materials investigation, artisan collaboration and a passion for colour and detail since 2009. Residencies and location-based projects have become an important factor in her design process.
Bethan is fascinated by the connections we make with the everyday objects that surround us. She is interested in critical approaches to achieving sustainability within mass consumption and the production-driven context of the design industry. She has works in the V&A and the Wellcome collection in London among other European institutions. Her Super Fake rug collection for cc-tapis was designed to connect and hold permanence in our fast-paced world, inspired by the collision of the man-made with nature.
Yogesh Chaudhary, Director of Jaipur Rugs, aims to bring about a global change in people’s perception of what ‘handmade’ is. His vision to create a timeless brand out of India has propelled an expansion drive in the family business. His entrepreneurial abilities and deep knowledge of the rug business have positioned Jaipur Rugs as a global leader in manufacturing and exporting exclusive, designer hand- knotted rugs worldwide. He says, ‘We are focused on making sure that our customers get what they want, but at the same time we are able to do that by providing sustainable livelihoods for our artisans.’
Matteo Cibic is based in Italy and works with industrial processes and small artisans. ‘Designing products, I care about two aspects: storytelling and the visual element,’ he says. ‘If it doesn’t have a story the person buying it won’t create an emphatic relation with it.’
With regard to his two rug collections—Wunderkammer and Domestic Jungle—for Jaipur Rugs, he sees handmade aspects as having increased importance in an age of mechanisation and artificial intelligence. ‘I believe luxury is about genuine products that connect two people. One in a small village of India, the other one in a huge metropolis on the other side of the world.’