Fabric—sometimes cut in the guise of a tent meant to shade and at other times, decorated with emotive motifs or patterns and laid across the floors of indoor living spaces—helps balance out the toughness and stoutness of stone and brick structures. While richly embellished fabric curtains were a regular feature of Mughal-era monuments, their presence is less conspicuous in homes today. We have now moved on, from the era when flowy fabric curtains were used for ensuring privacy in otherwise doorless structures. Today, the usage of any kind of cloth or carpet in our living spaces is scantier.
Moderately sized carpets, rugs, and curtains that carry evocative leitmotifs enhance the architecture and interiors of our spaces. It, hence, becomes imperative for designers to create bespoke textile designs that can adorn spaces of different kinds and styles. STIR enlists ten such rug designs that stand out for their distinctive patterns and atypical inspirations.
1. Bisanto by Antonio Aricò for Moooi Carpets
Calabrian designer Antonio Aricò’s Bisanto rugs are a collection of dreams, of imaginary and fantastical places. He was invited by Moooi to design a collection that talks about Italy and its stories. Much like the inspiration behind the collection, Aricò decided to launch it from an ‘imaginary place’ and was hence not present at its first showcase during Milan Design Week 2022. “Italy is not a country, it is a sea of stories. Its imagination is full of infinite magic stories coming from North to South and from West to East,” Aricò says. The designer was inspired by the Byzantine mosaics found in Italy for Bisanto. The doodles imprinted on these rugs are a mix of mosaics found in northern Italy’s Ravenna, southern Italy’s Calabria and Istanbul.
“We all have our inner child that makes our stories and dreams become real, Bisanto collection is the free voice of my intimate child that by playing with Italian history draws a new imagination, able to bring us to another world rich in joy,” Aricò explains. The rugs that make up the collection include Theodora, Arcadio, Narciso, Kaulonio, Adriano, and Costantina. Theodora, Arcadio, and Narciso are inspired by historical masterpieces found in the northern region of Italy. While Theodora is designed to tell the story of Theodora, a Byzantine empress, Arcadio is inspired by the representation of a rich sky in Ravenna’s Galla Placidia. Narciso, on the other hand, is a pillow with a rich print of a peacock in love with its tiara. Kaulonio draws references from a dragon mosaic in Kaulonia, Calabria and the Adriano carpet derives inspiration from the big snake imprint from the church of San Adriano in Cosenza Calabria. Heavy with historical imprints and inspiration, the Bisanto rugs, cut out of velvet and embellished with jewels, bear semblance to the mosaics that inspired them, while also serving the purpose of the soft and flowy wall and floor adornments.
2. The First Woman On Mars from the Synaesthesia II collection by Inkiostro Bianco
Inkiostro Bianco, an Italian rugs and surfaces brand, recently unveiled the second edition of their Synaesthesia collection. The rug collection was designed with the aim of exacting sensorial experiences that draw inspiration from worldly elements, and are an attempt to condense sounds, shapes, scents, and colours that catalyse one’s emotions and imagination. Composed of simple shapes and forms, the rugs elicit spontaneous reactions upon interaction with them. While the first edition of the Synaesthesia collection was composed of lively subjects and bright colours, this edition is refined and subtle. The First Woman on Mars, much like the other pieces in Synaesthesia II, is designed to intrigue the viewer. It beckons one to come and touch it, so as to gauge a sense of its tactility. Woven out of non-allergenic and non-toxic yarn, it is soft to the touch and hence, makes for a comfortable floor adornment.
3. Warhol x Henzel: Oxidation Paintings by Andy Warhol & Calle Henzel
Sweden-based Henzel Studio, headed by painter and collage artist Calle Henzel, unveiled the second collection of handmade art rugs in collaboration with The Andy Warhol Foundation of Visual Arts. Based on Andy Warhol’s oxidation paintings from 1978, these rugs are the result of a two-year long process of experimentation and development that helped adapt the paintings to rugs, while ensuring similar oxidation outcomes and comparable textures. “The foundation is delighted to expand our collaboration with Henzel Studio to celebrate Warhol’s idiosyncratic exploration of abstraction and his continued influence on contemporary culture,” shared Michael Dayton Hermann of The Andy Warhol Foundation.
As remarkable as the original oxidation paintings by the American artist are, they are also controversial. Warhol coated his canvases with copper paint, laid them down on the floor, and directed his assistants and visitors to urinate on them. The wet copper paint was oxidised by the acid from urine, creating a shimmering effect. Warhol’s oxidation paintings served as an exploration of differently shaped stains, shimmering surfaces, and colour-shifts. They were a deviation from Warhol’s previous work, both in the process employed to create them and in their style. While most of the artist’s creations fall under Pop Art, his oxidation paintings are reminiscent of Abstract Expressionism.
The limited edition Warhol x Henzel rugs, manufactured by luxury rug brand Henzel Studio, serve as an ode to the unique experiments undertaken by Warhol. They are hand-made using silk and wool. The unique combination of colours, accompanied by a shimmering effect, makes for a distinctive piece of home decor that doubles as artwork.
4. Diffract Rugs by Laure Krayenbühl of A-Project Studio
The Diffract Rugs, designed by product designer Laure Krayenbühl of Switzerland-based A-Project Studio, are coloured in red and grey. The repetitive lines, composed to create curvilinear shapes, evoke the diffraction witnessed when light passes through water or ribbed glass. The usage of elemental shapes on the rug design ensures their versatility. While they are designed to be placed in formal settings, the overlap of circular forms of different transparencies results in an abstract composition that can perfectly fit in both traditionally designed spaces and contemporary ones. Further, the usage of wool and linen to weave the rug results in a difference in appearance and tactility across the pieces. A combination of coarseness and fineness enhances the experience of the rugs.
5. Handmade Rug collection by Zaha Hadid Architects for ILLULIAN
Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) for Italian rug brand ILLULIAN, the Handmade Rug collection is made of Himalayan wool and silks. They are a combination of ZHA’s characteristic style and ILLULIAN’s all-natural material and weaving process. The patterns on these rugs are evocative of the curves and bold edges employed by the architectural firm in their designs. The manipulation of form, perspective, and space in the patterns imprinted on the rugs is further enhanced by the combination of silk and wool used to weave them. The sheen and shine of silk against the coarseness and matte texture of the Himalayan wool results in a unique tactile and visual experience. One can feel the richness of the materials used to make the rugs by caressing them or moving around them to witness different portions of the rugs reflect light differently.
The Handmade Rugs by ZHA comprise two collections, Natural Field and Architectural. While the former serves as a visual representation of the journey of Himalayan wool and silk from raw fibre to spun thread to woven rug, the latter lays focus on exploring the physicality of the weaving process and with it, the processes of knotting, pushing, pulling and stretching. The patterns of Natural Field encapsulate the dense network visible in nature and the Architectural collection serves as the articulation of weaving processes through a three-dimensional lens.
6. Trails by Sebastian Herkner
The Trails rugs, designed by German designer Sebastian Herkner for handmade rug brand M2R, are inspired by the different paths one takes in the journey of life. Made using high-quality silk, mohair, Tibetan highland wool, and nettle, among other materials, the pieces that make up this collection serve as a confluence of unanimous focus on timeless and sustainable design, shared by the designer and the brand. “Designing the first collection for a new label is always a search for traces, very intuitive and in dialogue with the manufacturer. For M2R we have taken different directions which we show by means of hatching in different colourways. Desert, Sky, Mountain are sensual experiences that can be experienced through material combinations, colours, and structure,” Herkner says.
The five rugs that make up the Trails collection feature different colour and material combinations, embodying the different paths that are characterised by different elements and experiences. The rug designs by Herkner are a direct imprint of spontaneous and intuitive hatchings by the designer on paper. The rugs, hand-knotted in Nepal, are also configured to comprise different textures and heights, hence making each piece unique, just like the subtle variations that make each path different and unique.
7. Tempore Collection by Duccio Maria Gambi for CC-Tapis
The Tempore collection, designed by furniture designer and interior artist Duccio Maria Gambi for Italian carpet brand CC-Tapis, is the result of the designer’s analysis of the relationship between the artificial and the natural. Nature constantly generates, re-appropriates, and disintegrates entities in the realm designed and inhabited by man. This relationship between nature and man, between stillness and movement, between growth and decay, co-exists within a common unit. This unique juxtaposition inspired the designer to create his Tempore collection. ‘Tempore’ comes from a Latin term that denotes a temporary or provisional period. The rugs, woven using Himalayan wool, include a process where there is time for each entity of the rugs to emerge, dissolve, and grow. In keeping with the influences that shaped this collection, Gambi lifted the graphic structure generated by oil pastels and ballpoint pens and used the same to create the Tempore collection. Tempore comprises an imprint of the inspired juxtaposition of the free and imprecise strokes of pastels against the precise and rational strokes of a ballpoint pen. They serve as tangible manifestations of the convergence of opposite entities in the same space.
8. Plastic Rivers by Álvaro Catalán de Ocón for GAN Rugs
Spanish designer Álvaro Catalán de Ocón’s Plastic Rivers conveys a social message. Designed for GAN Rugs, this collection of four hand-tufted rugs made out of recycled plastic aims to raise awareness about plastic waste. “Plastic Rivers aims to be a manifest collection that documents, creates, and raises awareness of the problem that plastic waste causes in major rivers of the world,” says Ocón. The four rugs, namely—Ganges, Indus, Yangtze, and Niger, portray a rendering of the aerial images of these rivers, which are considered some of the planet’s most polluted rivers. These rivers, located in and around Third World countries of the world, become the dumping ground for waste from across the globe.
“The plastic waste that flushes into these rivers comes from other countries. This garbage is sold to others, which actually do not have any regulation on recycling or final disposal of single-use plastic. The Plastic Rivers rugs are a metaphor for how rich countries sweep their garbage under the rug keeping it out of sight, rather than solving a global problem,” Ocón asserts. The rugs, strong in their social messaging, are appropriate for both indoor and outdoor spaces since they are crafted out of salvaged plastic from near these rivers.
9. Around Colors Rugs Collection by Paola Pastorini for Gebrüder Thonet Vienna
Inspired by elementary geometric shapes, the Around Colors collection by Milanese designer Paola Pastorini for European furniture manufacturer Gebrüder Thonet Vienna, draws references from 20th-century design trends. “The new collection of rugs is an articulated world of signs, geometries, graphics, neutral backgrounds, and subtle traces, a world that takes inspiration from the encounter between the artistic avant-garde of the early twentieth century and the minimal art current of the late 1960s, reinterpreted in a contemporary and modern way. Some of the formal matrices are the geometry, the rigour, the absence of decoration, a synthesis of form, volume, and last but not least colour,” says Pastorini.
A fun juxtaposition of circles, squares, and rectangles upon both rectilinear and elliptical rug surfaces make for a vibrant accessory for contemporary interiors. The rug collection, hand-knotted using wool and silk, comprises four pieces—a rectangular yellow rug, a square grey rug, an oval brown rug, and a rectangular pink rug. The carefully selected colours on the rugs subtly soften the stoutness of the shapes, hence creating a balanced floor accessory.
10. Ikona and Likuid Rugs by Karim Rashid for Sosomo
Designed by US-based industrial designer Karim Rashid for rug brand Sosomo, the Ikona rug and Likuid rug are handmade by Soranyi Soliver Mota—Sosomo's designer and creative director—in her workshop in the Dominican Republic. Woven using wool strands, these colourful pieces are reflective of the industrial designer’s characteristic flamboyant style. While the Ikona rug is an amalgamation of Rashid’s five favourite ‘ikons’: time, body, love, fluid, and blobism, the Likuid rug, features the American designers’ five favourite colours, configured to form a distorted yet balanced composition, constituting a liquid-like pattern that reflects softness. Rashid describes the Ikona rug as “an organic blobular formed rug”. The idea is reflected not only in the colours of the rug and its composition but also in the blob-like shape of the rug. The Likuid rug, on the other hand, is a minimal piece of floor decoration that despite the usage of bright colours, is not overly ostentatious and makes for a warm addition to any interior space. Rashid’s Sosomo Rugs are ideal home decor additions that can enliven a living space without drawing attention away from other objects that decorate the space.