Forget knot counts, natural dyes, subtle painterly aesthetics and matching rugs with the wallpaper, the rugs and textiles I am talking about today are a different breed altogether. A younger generation is taking over tufting, creating its own look for for the medium and being very vocal about it on social media platforms like TikTok. Tufting has officially gone viral.
Armed with tufting guns and plenty of visual ideas, many young creatives have taken up tufting during the pandemic over the last two years. While many of us spent our time rediscovering knitting, baking bread and growing plants, a large group of the younger generation found tufting tutorials and demonstrations on TikTok and quickly got hooked by medium’s immediacy and ‘painting with wool’ process. Many have become followers and clients of Philadelphia-based artist Tim Eads who began tufting several years ago, founded an online tufting community and 2018 and began to sell tufting equipment.
We have all seen many examples of creative tufting, in the work of artists such Jonathan Josefsson, Studio Noun by Keja Planken, and Alexandra Kehayoglou, but the new aesthetic is more Pop Art meets graffiti with a lot of cartoon and graphic novel influence. This new form of wool graffiti is being adopted by creative such as young fashion designer Lenny Vuitton, who last year was one of four emerging designers to be chosen by NYCxDESIGN and Arts Thread to take part in a designers-in-residence to transform a storefront in The Shops at Hudson Yards. The multitude of tufting creatives include Drake Sweeney, whose work focuses on a lot of anime characters, and French designer Clotilde Puy, who I have followed on Instagram over the last year.
A fashion graduate from École Duperré Paris, Puy travelled to Japan in 2019 where she spent a year learning about traditional crafts. In 2020 she returned to Paris to set up her textile design studio and during the lockdown she started to tuft. ‘At first I was specialised in weaving and I was starting my small business,’ Puy explains. ‘But then I discovered tufting and I knew it will change everything! I ordered my first tufting gun and I immediately loved it, it was like painting with yarns.’ Puy now creates colourful wall hangings, mirror, pillows and rugs and sells to customers who she says are predominately women aged 20-35.
This trend for tufting has brought a younger, bolder aesthetic to the craft, which has become popular not only through its sales but also as a creative hobby. I can’t help wondering if this could be the start of a new generation being excited by hand-knotted rugs.