Woven Forms, the new exhibition opening at Southern Guild on September 20, fuses experimental design with generations-old craft to produce a range of limited-edition rugs.
The Woven Forms collection is the result of a collaboration between New York-based gallery R & Company and Milan-based Amini Carpets. First debuted at the Venice Art Biennale in 2017, the collection aims to disrupt the traditional rug design production techniques by inviting designers to apply their practice to a completely foreign medium. Evan Snyderman, co-founder of R & Company gallery explains: “Without previous knowledge of the process they were not tethered by any limits normally associated with the craft.”
As such, the selected designers which include Wendell Castle, Rogan Gregory, Dana Barnes, the Haas Brothers, Katie Stout, David Wiseman and Renate Müller, were able to explore these woven textiles in a way which they previous might never have imagined.
To help deliver these unconventional works from inception to reality were carpet weavers in Nepal. Together with the artist, the craftspeople used generations-old techniques, some of which hadn’t been used in recent memory. The whole collection took 18 months to produce, with some of the rugs taking up to six months each.
These are some of the extraordinary rugs on view at Woven Forms:
Barnes developed a special interest in Persian rugs, after acquiring a few in an estate sale, and began to learn about how variations in the patterns give historical clues to their origins. For this project she used antique Persian patterns from the Amini company collection onto which she began infusing vibrant wool fibres. Using a custom technique specifically developed for bonding the fibres to the rugs, she has ‘retold’ the rugs’ original stories.
“Animals have always played an important part in my process of conceiving imagined realities. For me, they are muses, opening up the possibilities for a view of nature in which trees, streams, and clouds converge into patterns, forms, and colours.”
“Since the dawn of home decor, western civilization has invited nature indoors. All too often though, it is domesticated, trapped in sensible and pleasing patterns. Manic Botanic seeks to free floral patterns from preconceived notions of taste and allow them to feel wild.”
“When I am designing, I first think of a concept I want to explore and then I talk to children and play with them, and imagine how they will use my work. It was the same with these carpets, I thought about how children would interact with them and I hope that they will really use them and live with them. Children are my greatest inspiration in all the work that I do.”
Rogan’s carpet design represents a section of fossilized earth which has been marked with the footprints of passing creatures over time. He sees the design as representing the passage of time, with the creatures whose prints are captured being separated by hundreds or thousands of years, and also being timeless because it could exist in the past or in the future.
The Haas Brothers
In their rug editions, The Haas Brothers bring now-extinct animals vibrantly to life with comical names and exuberantly flashy colours. Drawing from a theme present in many of the Haas works, the creatures are animated with a joyful and fantastical flamboyance.