Five London creatives have made artworks that are meant to be stroked, stepped on, and maybe even hung on the wall, as part of an unconventional collaboration with The Rug Company.
The five — three painters, one engraving expert and a silversmith — are all affiliated with Sarabande, the foundation started by the late Lee Alexander McQueen that offers scholarships and studio space for emerging creative talents of every stripe.
They’ve transferred their latest works to a whole other medium, with the collaboration helping to mark The Rug Company’s 25th anniversary.
Titled “The Sarabande Collection,” the lineup features five artisanal rug designs. The Rug Company partnered with each artist to represent the integrity and depth of their individual disciplines in woven designs that are available worldwide.
Trino Verkade, founding trustee and chief executive officer of Sarabande, said the marriage of the foundation’s creatives with The Rug Company’s craftsmanship and approach to design was meant to be.
“Our languages are similar. It’s the perfect conversation. These designs are not rushed, they’re not throwaway fashion. They’re about craftsmanship, and investing in the future, and they allow the artists to represent their work in a different way,” she said.
Verkade added that the collaboration was also very much in the spirit of Sarabande, which is all about “broad stroke creativity — art, fashion, making and jewelry — and welcoming artists from different backgrounds. We always want to see how wide creativity can go.”
The rugs are handmade and, while they’re part of a single collection, they could not be more distinctive.
The multidisciplinary artist Stephen Doherty’s “Anemone” design boasts large-scale ethereal watercolor florals, with silk threads woven to form the petals, and hand-carved details.
The silversmith Shinta Nakajima’s soft silver metallic silk “Hibiki” rug emulates his 3D craft with carved magnolias. The Romanian-born painter Mircea Teleaga’s piece riffs on his “signature layering style of using oil paint to raise the organic motif from the canvas.” His “Limen” rug featuring a hazy, geometric motif with wool and silk.
“It was quite interesting to see it all come together, because we started it in 2019,” says the artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan, adding that the delay in launching was due to the pandemic.
“You can really tell you’re working with a craft-oriented company that cares about how things are made. We were kept in mind with every single step in the design process, and to have the power to approve every single part was great,” she adds while sitting on top of her “Euphoria” rug, which boasts a kaleidoscope of silk threads and a collage of botanical patterns around the rug’s perimeter.
Castro Smith, an engraver, painter, printmaker and ring designer, says “the story is really important. The rugs are made in the Himalayas and support craft, community and knowledge. That knowledge continues to the next generation. That’s a big part of it as well as the arts.”
The Rug Company’s rugs are handmade in Nepal, woven by expert craftspeople using Tibetan wool. Smith’s “Cascade” rug drew inspiration from Nepal: his rug design displays billowing clouds and flying birds, a Nepalese skyscape in wool and silk.
Each of the five designs can be adapted to varying spaces — both residential and commercial — and are priced from $225 per square foot to $330 per square foot, depending on the design.
James Seuss, chief executive officer of The Rug Company, says the collaboration with Sarabande was a natural move.
“We share a passion for craft and artisanal quality, using time-honored techniques to create innovative design. We knew from the beginning that the Sarabande artists would deeply respect this process and be excited to introduce their vision to our rugs.”
He adds that the five artists worked closely with The Rug Company’s studio to transpose their creative discipline into art for the floor.
“Shinta’s hammering and chasing skills were transformed into a hand-carved silk rug that echoes his shimmering silver ornaments, while Stephen’s petals were carefully hand-carved by our weavers to echo his illustrations where a blade is gently traced across wet ink,” Seuss says.
He stresses the collection is for the long term.
“They are made to last a lifetime, so our collections endure trends. We are honored to support Sarabande in its mission of championing under-represented artists, and are already amazed by the impact their designs have had on the design community.”