Based in Zürich, Edelgrund has earned renown in the rug world for exquisite products that draw on the tradition and expertise of Iranian weavers. Innovative design and choice of the finest materials are also at the heart of the company’s philosophy. Edelgrund’s collaboration with designers Ouwen Mori and Paolo Giordano has resulted in contemporary kilims inspired by minimalistic geometric patterns held in the Edelgrund archives. Characterised by warm colours and a soft vibrancy, Ouwen & Paolo’s collection is a sublime example of the power of ‘simple’.
Throughout history, flatweaves of this nature have been used as curtains, blankets and ground cover on which to dry crops. Edelgrund has expanded the utility of the panels by creating rugs from these ‘modular’ units. Signature features such as borders have been added. Yet the essence of the original designs is maintained, as is the nature of their work-from-home context. The pieces are woven in the village of Alasht in the province of Mazandaran in northern Iran. Since the late 19th century, this community has maintained the tradition of women weaving in their homes to support their families.
The kilims are woven as panels about 40-50cm wide from hand-spun, 100 per cent regional wool hand dyed in colours derived from native plants. The collection was originally designed for an installation in 2020 at Palazzo Litta at the Milan Salone, currently rescheduled to September 2021. But two of the kilims appeared to acclaim during the recent COVER Connect virtual exhibition.
The designs create what Edelgrund describes as ‘a minimalistic alphabet’—a modular system from which endless design combinations are possible, just as the letters of an alphabet can coalesce in an infinite vocabulary of words. Giordano’s background in photography and architecture plays against Mori’s ‘playful, minimalistic design sensibility’ to create a unique union of ideas. Their joint exploration of original Edelgrund designs is expressed ‘without horizontal interventions’ to allow the patterns to become a series of ‘poetic vertical panels’ of desired length or width and with varied colour combinations.
A sombre note must be sounded, however. At the end of 2020, we lost Ouwen Mori to cancer at the tragically early age of just thirty-one. Born in Hunan, China, Mori occupied a special position at the intersection of graphic design and product design, and her passing is a cause of great sadness. Her vision is reflected in her timeless Geometric Poetry designs for Edelgrund, which will become part of her legacy.