Founded almost forty years ago by Humphrey Boyle as a wallpaper company specialising in heritage prints, Zoffany has expanded its offer over the years to include contemporary wallpaper plus a range of classic and contemporary fabric collections. Camille and Leo Riviere founded Riviere Rugs in 2005. Headquartered in London, their backgrounds in art and design created a natural path to the world of handmade rugs. Just over a decade ago the two companies established a working relationship based on their ‘mutual appreciation for luxurious contemporary design’. Their inaugural collaborative rug collection is based on designs in the Zoffany archive.
The two companies perfected the collection during the COVID lockdown. Riviere had unrestricted access to the Zoffany archive. They combed through hundreds of designs and selected six to translate into hand-knotted rugs made in Kathmandu using the finest-grade Tibetan wool and botanic silk. Each of the six rugs in the collection can be customised.
Described as ‘an abstracted and softened zig zag design, inspired by a 1930s Japanese Shibori document’, the simple pattern of Kanoko represents the popular Japanese pattern known as Higaki—a close-up of interlaced cypress wood strips used to make a traditional Japanese fence. The pattern’s indigo edges seem to ‘seap’ into the surrounding white voids creating the appearance of a soft, delicate fringe.
Sumi translates as ‘charcoal ink’ and nagashi as ‘floating’. Together they create a word that represents the ancient Japanese marbling art of suminagashi where ink floated on ceramics, paper, or textiles creates an abstract pattern. The Suminagashi rug’s pattern becomes a seductive undulating surface that resembles rippling water.
One of Zoffany’s most popular patterns, Taisho represents a serene surface of lotus leaves. Hand-knotted at 150 kpsi, the high knot count and wool and silk fibres create an impressive depth of field.
Tumbling Blocks by Riviere Rugs and Zoffany is woven in wool and silk. The optical illusion of three dimensions created by tumbling blocks is an historic pattern used in multiple cultures including ancient Rome and Japan, and more recently as a popular patchwork quilt pattern.
For the Jigsaw rug, the Zoffany monogram has been deconstructed to create an abstract design where varied pile heights and wool and silk textures accentuate the design’s deliberately improvisational nature. Finally, the Moon Silk rug is woven so the combination of wool and silk highlight the painterly pattern of transparent clouds drifting across a full moon.
While the COVID crisis is an event no one would wish to repeat, unanticipated positive consequences include the sharp rise in interest in the home and its furnishings. Pre-COVID the majority of Riviere’s clients were interior designers and architects, but lockdown introduced private homeowners as a new client base. The unique collaboration of Riviere Rugs and Zoffany takes the beauty of hand-knotted rugs to a new demographic, while existing clients can revel in the excitement of seeing two beloved British brands join their creative artistry and industry knowledge.