As with any design profession knowing the medium is essential in order to align the final product with the intended concept. In rug design it comes down to concept, materials, and production. Knowing where the materials such as silk, wool, viscose, and other natural or synthetic fibers originate is the first step in the physical process of production. Knowing how those materials respond during the production process helps eliminate some of the guess work in what the final product will look like and provides a level of consistency. Knowing how the fiber is treated and/or spun, the types of dyes and dying processes, how the design will be translated to the weavers, weaving techniques, knots per square inch, and finishing techniques. What is rarely discussed and somewhat undervalued because of its ephemeral and intuitive nature is the design or creative aspect. The initial catalyst for the development of the rug is just as vital.
|Traditional line drawing based on Italian lace.|
During the conceptual and designing phase there are many factors at play. As in any art related field creative economy is an important consideration. This means expressing or communicating an idea in the most efficient and effect means without superfluous meandering through failed or weaker ideas. All art begins with an idea and is conceptual based. The ability to quickly locate the one that works best intuitively hinges on knowledge and years of experience thus separating professionals from beginners. The ability to observe, listen, and communicate with clients coalesces the design process thus helping direct creative economy.
Once a design is conceptualized it immediately leads to establishing parameters important in focusing the designer’s aesthetic energy. Creativity comes from levels of confinement or constraints. In many instances budget is a factor and dictates the materials, size, and quality of what can be done. Existing décor and location are other common constraints. These considerations initially shape the outcome of the rug. For my self functionality is an important issue. Putting a light colored rug near an exterior entry way or even designing a white rug is questionable. If a white rug were in a clean room it would still show traffic residue after a week. This is my personal observation but silk and viscose fibers located on the outside edge of a rug have a tendency to unattractively fray in a short period of time. These are just a couple of design problems that other rug manufacturers and textile designers disregard to meet the required trend, style and fashion of the moment. I want my rugs to last beyond the photo shoot and I want people to live on and with these rugs. There is a balance between style and function and that is what great design achieves. I love problem solving and always look at constraints as an opportunity to achieve something more remarkable than what the client and I set out to accomplish.
On the flip side, having no budget is financially great for everyone involved but parameters must come from somewhere. Pre-existing elements such as furniture, wall coverings, artwork, and architecture are key. If this is not available a thorough understanding of your client is obtained through simple observation and conversation. Building this relationship may take longer but the results are lasting and help clients lay a foundation for how they want to live. This may be interior design 101 but it is fascinating how often simple ideas and approaches go south when product starts being looked at before that relationship between designer and client is established.
Not everything can translate into a rug pattern, at least not as it may appear. Most images require some major adjusting and tweaking to arrive at a usable pattern that can be woven. Personally, in order to suspend reality, I try to avoid a representational or literal translation of an image and try to find the abstract qualities that best convey the feeling that I or the client are trying to communicate. This adds a more complex and esoteric level to the design.