Archives for category: Rugs & Carpets

COVER’s readers are invited to the opening tomorrow of Take Off Your Shoes and Open Your Eyes – a collaboration between Alberto Levi Gallery and Idarica Gazzoni (see COVER magazine Summer 2012). Contemporary carpets from Alberto Levi will be displayed in fantasy room settings enhanced by selections from Gazzoni’s Arjumand textile collections. (cont)

Idarica invite

Each designer is inspired by similar source material. Overdyed recycled silk sari hand knotted rugs from the Aquasilk Collection sit alongside Gazzoni’s new collections including the Deco collection based on ivory and black patterns from Japan as well as the geometric abstractions of Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann.

There are two sites to visit, each a short walk from the other. Alberto Levi Gallery at Via San Maurilio 24 and Spazio Arjumand at Via Santa Marta 11, a marvelous Renaissance courtyard. The opening is tomorrow 10.00 to 2000 hours and the exhibition continues until 15th April (1000-1900 hours). To attend tomorrow contact Carola Galliani. carola AT albertolevi DOT com.


Let’s go! Andiamo! Don’t miss COVER magazine’s Forza Tappeti: the Rug Revolution exhibition at the entrance to designjunction’s EDIT at La Pelota during the Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano. A selection of the designers featured in Forza Tappeti include Christopher Farr and CC-Tapis plus:

Shimmering Spring by Zollanvari

Shimmering Spring by Zollanvari


Grace by Tissage


Alasht by Edelgrund

Fish Scales by Deirdre Dyson

Fish Scales by Deirdre Dyson

Modernist architect, designer, artist, and publisher Giò Ponti described his typology of the “ancient Italian-style home” as domus, a habitat where outside/inside boundaries were mutable or immaterial and surface treatments were considered. To celebrate their compatriot and personaggi famosi di milanese and his love of surfaces, Milan-based CC-Tapis have designed the “Avant Garde” rug collection which includes Hello Giò, Diamond and Lost in the Fifties. (cont)

CC TAPIS Hello Giò

CC Tapis, Hello Giò, Himalyan wool and silk hand knotted rug

Ponti’s love of surface treatments is exemplified in Hotel Parco dei Principi. The field of blue and white surfaces inside and out echo what Ponti saw on arrival; blue heat, blue sky, blue sea, and the “blue volcano” Vesuvius. He declared the 100 guest rooms would each have a different floor pattern. Public areas are similarly tiled and augmented with walls of tactile ceramicised pebbles and various sized quadrilateral ceramic “plates” by his friend Fausto Melotti. The tiled repetitions in Hello Giò (above) are a distinctive but familiar homage to Ponti’s Principi legacy.

Ponti’s theory of “finite form” influenced all his work and was signified by his continuous employment of the diamond or lozenge shape, similar to CC-Tapis’ Diamond rug below. (cont)

CC-Tapis, Diamond rug

CC-Tapis, Diamond, Himalyan wool and silk hand knotted rug

On the fiftieth anniversary of Hotel Parco de Principi in 2012, Domus magazine (founded by Ponti) declared Hotel Principi captures “un momento glorioso del design italiano degli anni ’50.” It does. And so too CC-Tapis’ designs in honour of Ponti remind us that Italian design has been “glorioso” for millenia. Long may it continue. DJ

CC-Tapis, Lost in the Fifties rug

CC-Tapis, Lost in the Fifties Himalyan wool and silk hand knotted rug

CC-Tapis, Lost in the Fifties rug, finishing details in workshop

CC-Tapis, Lost in the Fifties, Himalyan wool and silk hand knotted rug, hand finishing detail in workshop

Vitruvius disliked unreality. The ancient Roman architect, engineer and town planner promoted firmitas, utilitas, venustas – solid, useful, beautiful architecture. And the decorative arts, he argued, must follow realism. In his seventh book Vitruvius rails against the stage designs of Apaturius which displayed what Vitruvius saw as illogical architecture. Fantasy was forbidden. No vine tendrils acting as columns to hold up a roof. Be real or begone, Vitruvius might have said. Instead what he actually wrote was “such things do not exist, and cannot exist and never will exist”. (cont)

Trompe-l'oeil geometric floor, House of the Faun, Pompeii, 1st c BCE

Trompe-l’oeil geometric floor, House of the Faun, Pompeii, 1st c CE

But Vitruvius might make an exception for the now famous trompe l’oeil 3D representation floor from “House of the Faun” at Pompeii. Or he would if he’d known about the fluid mechanics of volcanic activity. Although the House of the Faun mosaic floor is a flat surface with three-dimensional aspirations, the geometric blocks have geologic precedents.

The coastline field of upright basalt columns known as the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland was formed some sixty million years ago when volcanic activity forced molten rock upwards through chalk bed fissures. The lava cooled at varying rates to form a field of polygonal basalt pillars (mainly hexagonal plus five and four sided). Knowing this, Vitruvius might agree the House of the Faun floor is a rendition of reality for the “giants” who roamed the causeway and “saw” the same view beneath their fictional feet that pre-AD 79 Pomeiians enjoyed when they walked through the House of the Faun.

Fancy your own Pompeiian floor or Giant’s Causeway? CC-Tapis in Milan designed Infini Stucco, a beautiful and elegant hand woven rug and contemporary echo of the House of the Faun mosaic. (cont)

CC Tapis Infini Stucco, Himalayan wool and silk

CC Tapis Infini Stucco, Himalayan wool and silk

If you are in Milan next week for the Salone Internazionale del Mobile please visit the COVER stand at the entrance to La Pelota where CC-Tapis are one of our guest exhibitors. But if you want to see Infini Stucco then take a ten minute walk to the CC-Tapis showroom on via San Simpliciano n. 6. where you will discover they follow the ancient Roman credo remis velisque – “giving one’s best”. DJ

CC Tapis

CC Tapis Infini Stucco

Mad Men series 6

It’s 1968 in the world of Mad Men. Or so say pundits speculating on the time jump for series six which debuts with a two hour special 7 April (US) and 10 April (UK). Your scribe is unable to watch since cable poached MM from BBC4, so no plot spoilers please. Nevertheless it’s hard to avoid blog speculations on MM6 set design and fashions.

Newsletters from a certain vintage and modern US design site drop into your scribe’s mailbox weekly. Adherence to a blog code not dissimilar to Queensbury Rules means your scribe won’t name the site, but 1) they seem to believe years beginning with 19 refer to the 19th century, and 2) their prognostications for MM6 sets are skewed to the pop end of the design scale. Yes, there will be pop art inspired elements, but your scribe hopes they are curtailed to clothing and the MM office is dressed to emulate textile maestro Jack Lenor Larsen.

Jack Lenor Larsen Mercury textile, 1969, Verel, metallic gimp, rayon, cotton leno weave. Collection Cowan & Tout. Image from Jack Lenor Larsen Creator and Collector by McFadden, Friedman, Stack, Larsen, 2004

Jack Lenor Larsen Mercury textile, 1969, Verel, metallic gimp, rayon, cotton leno weave. Collection Cowan & Tout. Image from Jack Lenor Larsen Creator and Collector by McFadden, Friedman, Stack, Larsen, 2004

Wealth was still largely “quiet” in the 1960s meaning it wasn’t the done thing to crassly broadcast earnings as is now the norm. Madison Avenue ad merchants might wear à la mode madras suits, but office decor would veer to luxe moderne rather than a surfeit of pop art modernity. Larsen’s 1969 Mercury cabin dividers for Braniff International Airways, prioritised materials, technology and technique without sacrificing a richly designed surface. Understanding the “worth” of Larsen designs was a sign of design discernment, and your scribe suggests senior partner Bert Cooper would recognise how Larsen textiles would complement his Asian art collection.

Jack Lenor Larsen Nimbus made for curtain wall windows

Jack Lenor Larsen Nimbus made for curtain wall windows. Saran, polyethylene monofilaments; woven and heat shrunk. Collection Cowan & Tout. Image from Jack Lenor Larsen Creator and Collector by McFadden, Friedman, Stack, Larsen, 2004

Larsen’s innovation-led textiles were appreciated by like-minded clients. Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP commissioned Larsen to design vertical space treatments for Lever House (1952), which coincided with their growing renown as the progenitor of International Style glass curtain wall skyscrapers.

Nimbus – still in production – demonstrates how Larsen’s decision to use the three metre width newly achieved by European textile mills in the 1950s as length, allowed him to dress skyscraper curtain walls from mullion to mullion with a single textile width. Simple idea? Sure. But Larsen was the one who spotted the potential, and it’s this type of irrational creativity that inspires the superlative set designers and writing staff of MM, and they in turn will drive millions to watch Mad Men this weekend. Your scribe thinks it’s time to buy that Sky subscription. DJ

Just weeks to wait until the Salone Internazionale del Mobile welcomes the world to the annual design exposition. Spread across the city but centred in the Brera district, one of the focal points is La Pelota where the UK’s designjunction will present EDIT.

Rather like the anticipation created by a nested set of Russian Matryoshka dolls where the urge is to power through the nest to find the innermost gem, visitors will want to ensure they discover COVER magazine’s Forza Tapetti: The Rug Revolution pavilion. Strategically located in the forecourt of La Pelota, Forza Tapetti is a must-see curated exhibition of the best in contemporary carpets. Here’s a sneak peak at the carpets that will be displayed in our Michael Sodeau-designed pavilion. DJ

Forza Tapetti Rug Revolution pavilion, EDIT, La Pelota, Milan Design Week 2013

Forza Tapetti Rug Revolution pavilion, EDIT, La Pelota, Milan Design Week 2013

Woven in linen and cotton Red Meander was designed by Anni Albers, famed alumnus of the Bauhaus in Germany and founding faculty member at the legendary Black Mountain College in North Carolina. It was she who can be credited with developing and disseminating a revolution in 20th century contemporary textile design and production. But is Meander truly a meander or is it more mythical maze? (Cont)

Christopher Farr Rugs, Red Meander by Anni Albers. Weave raised Aubusson, handspun wool.

Christopher Farr, Red Meander by Anni Albers. Weave raised Aubusson, handspun wool.

The word meander calls to mind a loose, loopy gambol not a rectilinear purposeful path. Albers’ pattern recalls labyrinth floors like St Quentin, Chartres Cathedral or the infamous labyrinthos of Greek mythology.

Daedelus designed the labyrinth to cage King Minos’ stealth weapon – the “man-bull” Minotaur. At war with mainland Athens, the island King prevailed and demanded “tributes” of Athenian youth every nine years to feed the Minotaur. Enough was enough. Athens sent Theseus to Crete. He got lucky. It was un coup de foudre when the King’s daughter saw him. Betraying dad, she gave Theseus the secret directions to the heart of the labyrinth. “Forwards, down and never left or right”, and she gave him a ball of yarn to unroll as back-up “map”. Theseus killed the man-bull. Fair fight? No. Theseus had a sword. Poor Minotaur. Trapped his whole life in a maze, no friends, and infrequent feedings. Cruel. (Cont)

ancient graffiti

Pompeii labyrinth graffito 79 AD

Whatever Albers’ influence for Meander, it seems she may have inspired Keith Haring, or is it only your scribe who sees similarities between Meander and Haring’s hip hop graffiti?

Original Anni Albers rugs and textiles are found in private collections, museums and The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation. Several exemplary contemporary dealers are authorised by the Foundation to sell renditions of Meander. Alan Cristea Gallery sells screenprints, and Christopher Farr sells the rug. Find Farr in London or better still, stop by COVER’s Forza Tappeti: The Rug Revolution exhibition at Edit during Milan Design Week next month to see Meander and more. DJ

Baby it’s cold outside. Named after the Roman god of war, the month of March made its namesake proud this week with an unexpected catapult of siege snow across southern Britain. But icy temperatures aren’t just for outside. If you work at Facebook HQ it’s “wintry” inside too.

FB’s founding father keeps the office thermostat at °F 59 (°C 15), which sounds quite balmy to the hardy folk at COVER HQ, but is apparently too cold for FB folk. Your scribe suggests Zuckerberg get on the dog and bone and order FilzFelt’s toasty Puritan plain but Pantone pretty thick wool felt rugs and felt wall covers.

If photos are accurate FB staff suffer from more than cold. The interior design looks more CAFO feed lot than social media Mount Olympus. FilzFelt floors, walls, screens and some natty felt cubes will soften FB’s corporate clink look. A beautified interior and the illusion, if not the reality, of warmth means the big kahuna can keep the thermostat snugly on “cold”. DJ


FitzFelt CNC cut, hand-stitched, 100% wool felt rug. FilzFelt client: Hacin + Associates

Yesterday’s highway led to the press preview for the V&A exhibition Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars, but hours later the byway landed your scribe in Goa. Googling for information on English traders, your scribe chanced across a print from Jan Huygen van Linschoten’s Itinerario (1596) detailing his stay (1583-1588) in the Portuguese colony of Goa on the Indian subcontinent. The print is full of action, but it’s the row of houses in the background that holds a nugget of information for textile buffs and fans of line drying.


Itinerario, Jan Huygen van Linschoten. John Carter Brown Library, Brown University

The upper windows of each house have what appear to be shallow balconies. But are they balconies or rather clever drying racks? Rugs or textiles hang from the floors of three balconies at the left of the print (click to enlarge images). The image suggests that rather than solid slabs, the floors were an open series of horizontal poles creating the architectural version of modern airing/drying racks. A rather elegant and tidy solution to the pell-mell of clotheslines. DJ (see addendum below)


(Detail) Itinerario, Jan Huygen van Linschoten. John Carter Brown Library, Brown University


Your scribe welcomes input and a devoted reader (*mum*) offers her view on the laundry rack theory. She suggests

“if these were primarily laundry drying racks then I would expect to see articles of clothing such as we saw in Spain on clotheslines strung between buildings. But no. What I see in Goa are bed quilts put out for airing in the manner of the Japanese, which custom is adhered to even today in Japan, I believe.”

Your scribe agrees. Goa residents – especially those facing a major public square – would not hang wet clothing at the front of the property for aesthetic, propriety, and practical (dripping water) reasons. So yes, learned mum is correct. These are airing racks for decorative bedding or rugs but not laundry racks. DJ

Reductio ad absurdum is Latin for “reduction to absurdity”. A principle or proposition is demolished by a logical process that reveals an absurd outcome. Design is not immune from reductio ad absurdum. The field is rich with crafters who reduce a good idea (e.g. recycling) to questionable outcome by applying what your scribe calls a Mae West methodology. “If a little is great, and a lot is better”, quipped West, “then way too much is just about right!” “Noooo”, cries your scribe; West was referring to sex, not product design! With an aesthete’s eye for quality and style, what would West make of the sock and shirt carpets by K.S. Design? Your scribe can guess.

Karen Shiker of K.S. Design is attracted to the “obsessive repetitiveness of a single product”. She makes rugs out of socks and wife beaters. Is it absurd to suggest she “transforms” the socks? A glance makes it clear these are nothing more, nothing less than stitched together socks. Recycled yes, but with no kinship to recycled Gee’s Bend quilts, poetic Japanese Boro, or rugs made from recycled saris. And the black and white sock carpet? Your scribe suggests zebras club together for a class action lawsuit.

If Latin is a little too high falutin’, how about this everyday phrase as a craft watchword writ large as a poster over the studio desk. “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. Put the socks back in the drawer, and return to the drawing board. DJ