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

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The cow as villain is probably urban myth, but Chicago’s reputation as a lodestone for architectural excellence began after the conflagration in 1871 when a bovine was blamed for bowling over a lantern and setting the city ablaze. Bold buildings soon followed and the Second City became and remains an influential centre for architecture; renowned as the city that built the first steel-frame skyscraper. The bull market that fueled the boom was the catalyst for a memorable saying coined by Chicago realtors in 1926 to underscore the value of a property’s locale. “Location, location, location.”

Location, location, location is still applicable to real estate. And the phrase becomes meaningful for COVER magazine during Milan Design Week 2013. We’ve bagsied a prime location for Forza Tappeti: The Rug Revolution. COVER’s exhibition pavilion is part of designjunction’s Edit show at the prestigious (and massive) La Pelota venue. Our Forza pavilion will be located in the courtyard entrance to La Pelota. Fair organisers estimate up to 10,000 daily visitors will encounter the Forza pavilion as they enter and exit Edit. However visitors find us, by intent, chance or with COVER’s version of a vaudeville hook, your scribe believes visitors will be captivated by our exhibitors and their handmade rugs.

But while location is key, it only becomes the winning trifecta when linked to superb content contained within sublime space. Acclaimed designer Michael Sodeau has designed our Forza pavilion. His innovative accordion-shaped frame emphasises the iconic shape’s architectural virtues – structurally sound, flexible, dynamic, and expressive – to create a sheltered stand with infinite spatial solutions and significant volume. All of which combine to make the Forza Tapetti pavilion unmissable. DJ

The Alf Onnie curtain shop in East Ham, London, was on its uppers. Established in 1920, the family owned curtain company was one net curtain away from financial disaster. But then along came Alex Polizzi. Star of BBC television reality show The Fixer, Polizzi uses her business nous to rescue a company in each episode (filmed over four months). Daughter of hotelier Olga Polizzi, niece of Rocco Forte, granddaughter of Lord Forte, Polizzi is – in an unconventional but illustrative use of the legal phrase – a force majeure. Ignore her at your peril.

The three brothers who run Alf Onnie were in a pickle. The store was crammed with unrelated merchandise, the accounts were shipwrecked and the brothers were at odds. Most of Polizzi’s advice made sense, and without her expertise the shop was doomed. But on the subject of craft and skilled hand work your scribe sides with brother Jeremy. In 2008 Robert Hanks reviewed Richard Sennett’s book The Craftsman. Hanks told a story about his decorator Peter. Hanks feels guilty because he can’t pay Peter enough to account for “his meticulousness and dedication”. One day Hanks finds Peter re-doing an area because irregularities had appeared. Hanks jokes about obsessive-compulsive disorder. “Peter responded with an agonised, reproachful look. ‘It’s not me’, he said. ‘It’s how it has to be.'”

“How it has to be” is at the heart of superlative craft. It is the bulwark against bodging. And it is at the heart of the rug companies who will exhibit superlative handmade rugs at COVER magazine’s Forza Tappeti: The Rug Revolution exhibition at Edit during Milan Design Week 2013.

Polizzi takes the brothers to five star Brown’s Hotel. They visit a guest room. Youngest brother Jeremy – “I am a perfectionist” – examines the room’s curtains. He doesn’t like what he finds. Polizzi calls him a “curtain nerd” and tells viewers he’s “all het up about some very minor details”. But the devil is in the details, and Jeremy has observed the curtains are unweighted at the hemline, a professional taboo. His hangdog expression says it all as he tells Polizzi, “I’ve never ever made a pair of made-to-measure curtains where I haven’t put weights in . . . I think that would be almost like cheapening myself.” Polizzi is unrelenting. But Jeremy is right. He is a consummate craftsman. He knows how it has to be. And for that your scribe salutes him. Here’s to the next ninety years of Alf Onnie, and “how it has to be”. DJ

Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Your scribe’s favourite idiomatic expression can be augmented with “. . . and meteors”, following today’s meteor crash in Russia which blew the roof off a factory and shattered countless windows. Video footage looks like outtakes from Mars Attacks!, but there’s more tonight when Asteroid DA14 becomes a NEO (not an EO which is what the meteor turned into).

At 1930 GMT your scribe will crouch in wintry blackberry bramble on the flat roof of the Victorian garage behind her garden. A flask of the warm stuff in one hand and high powered binoculars in the other, she will pick bramble thorns off her cat cohorts until 2100 hrs when Asteroid DA14 hoves into the European sky. Loyal readers might like to see your scribe’s interpretation of the size of the asteroid, using COVER magazine’s Forza Tapetti: The Rug Revolution logo for Milan Design Week 2013 as a stand-in for the asteroid (click to view larger):

Asterorid 2012 DA14

Size comparison diagram for Asteroid 2012 DA14 as visualised by the COVER scribe

Assuming a near miss means there’s time to shop for a rug to commemorate these remarkable events, your scribe suggests a rug by inimitable design world star and raconteur Vladimir Kagan, whose famous designs include his 1975 Serpentine Sofa. Kagan’s Meteor of Shower handtufted 100% New Zealand wool carpet is right on the money. Eerily it seems to have massive meteor fallout landing on what appears to be Russia. So it’s tin hats at the ready dear readers and happy weekend. DJ

Asteroid DA14 Meteor rug

Vladimir Kagan Meteor of Shower rug

Today’s subject is subversive but sweet. Readers who decided not to splash the cash on the Roses rug your scribe recommended, may opt instead for the Valentine’s day gold standard gift – sugar. But if your yen is more cerebral and less Willy Wonka, consider a linked arm visit with your loved one to the Sugar Carpet at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn.

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Sugar Carpet by Aude Moreau

More than two tons of refined white sugar (presumably the unit measure is American tons i.e. 2,000 pounds x two, or the approximate weight of 29 Bridget Jones clones at the point when she most lamented her weight gain), were used by French artist Aude Moreau to create this iteration from her sugar carpet series. A smooth-sifted 24 foot long “carpet”, the design is simple and traditional with a Persian rug motif border. The carpet “blocks out the majority of the gallery restricting visitors to the perimeter of the space”, a viewing experience rather like Richard Wilson’s sump oil installation 20:50 which your scribe remembers with fondness from the Saatchi Gallery’s original St John’s Wood location in North London.

Gallery bumpf says Sugar Carpet “spotlight[s] the overlooked and undervalued process of production”. But the renaissance of ethical production and a public supply chain, championed in no small part by the those who design and produce bespoke, handmade carpets and rugs, allied with increased consumer demand for provenance and atelier craft, suggest this thesis is no longer valid. So too the suggestion sugar is “food”. Sugar’s reputation is in freefall. Its “domestic comfort” label still has legs, but calling sugar “food” is rather like President Ronald Reagan’s administration labeling ketchup a “vegetable”. Technically accurate but ethically compromised.

When Hurricane Sandy breached Brooklyn and flooded Smack Mellon, Sugar Carpet was washed away. Although remade with a two ton sugar donation, your scribe wonders whether a more appropriate response would have been to accept the flood as a subversive act of nature and let it become part of the ongoing performance of the Sugar series. Just as the sump oil in Richard Wilson’s 20:50 suggests the medieval concept of a cosmological sump as a collector of dregs, so too Sugar Carpet might be better viewed as both a sump and eulogy for the delicious, but nutritionally bankrupt, white stuff. DJ

Like the buses your scribe waits impatiently and then two dead kings come along at once. Archeologists confirmed last week the skeleton found in a hasty grave beneath a Leicester car park is that of Richard III. And this week? Stitchers in the Channel Island of Alderney completed their embroidered rendition of the “missing” terminus to the Bayeux Tapestry – the 11th century 70m long embroidery that reflects the victor’s view of events leading to the Battle of Hastings and the death of King Harold II.

bayeux

There are parallels between Kings Harold II and Richard III. Each was considered a usurper. Harold was accused of taking the English throne from William, and Richard became King under a cloud when his royal nephews (who were ahead of Richard in the coronation queue) disappeared. Each King was killed in battle. Dead or dying, each received humiliation blows. Four knights “hewed”, “smote” and “pierced” Harold’s body until it was “despoiled of all signs of status”. The “limb” hacked from his body may have been his manhood. Richard III was bludgeoned while mortally wounded and got a sword thrust up the jacksie.

University of Leicester Richard III

University of Leicester find the remains of Richard III

But humiliations for both Kings continued post-mortem. Contemporary propagandists (and Shakespeare a century later) recorded Richard as a misshapen murderer. And poor King Harold lives on as a propaganda pawn in the wool and linen Bayeux Tapestry commissioned by William the Conqueror’s half brother. Harold’s coronation became a buried lede in the middle of the tapestry, stripped of importance.

Theorists have long suggested the Bayeux Tapestry is incomplete. The Tapestry begins with the crowning of Edward the Confessor, and many suggest it was meant to end with the coronation of William on Christmas Day 1066. Were the panels lost? Destroyed? Or perhaps suggests your scribe, the 11th century English stitchers, tired after ten years of toil and taking umbrage at the final scenes of the foreign William crowned as King, downed tools? Perhaps. All that seems clear to your scribe is that now, with the embroidered panel of the Coronation of William complete, we’ve well and truly put the boot in Harold. DJ

Begone earworm! Valentine’s Day is nigh and Tainted Love is on loop in your scribe’s frontal cortex. Soft Cell’s nonpareil cover of Tainted Love featured in the first series of one of your scribe’s favourite telly shows Being Human. Although nominally about a ghost, vampire, werewolf trio, Being Human is really an elegy to love’s trials. So as it’s time to make good on your love pledges with a token, rather than buy a Dremel to engrave your tortured sentiments on a coin, what to do? Purchase Sin Songs, Torch and Romance by Marc Almond? Good call, but your scribe suggests you deliver a grand geste. Buy your love a Valentine’s rug.

Rosas rug (detail) by nanimarquina

Roses rug (detail) by nanimarquina

Devoted readers wouldn’t expect your scribe to suggest spreading the readies for a rug that simpers. No, no. We need a rug that smolders. Roses wool felt rug by Spanish design company nanimarquina looks like the rose petal vision from the 1999 film classic American Beauty made manifest.

Red is central to Sam Mendes’ film. It signifies lust, anger, passion, transgression and danger, and aren’t those the qualities of love? Rarely is love uncomplicated. Rather love is a mille feuille; its thousand leaves are nuanced and shaded like the felt petals in the Rose rug. Chiaroscuro sweeps like a crimson tide from blood red petals to candy apple red, creating a wool felt palette of love’s trials.

So for Valentine’s Day 2013 your scribe recommends you own the multiplicities of your love. Add a soundscape whilst you lounge amongst the petals. The bittersweet sounds of PS22 Chorus singing Tame Impala’s Feels Like We Only Go Backwards delivers hope for love where older voices sound resigned. I hear it inside my head all day. Gather and scatter rose petals while you may. Tainted love begone. DJ

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Roses rug (detail) by nanimarquina

News of the recent make-over of famous chef Julia Child’s childhood kitchen made your scribe eager to try out a new recipe. But rather than consult her favourite cookery book (not alas one by Child, but rather The Kopan Cookbook), your scribe browsed her groaning National Geographic collection. Ah, there it was. May 1988. How to make felt.

Snow

Snow felt rug by Peace Industry, Spring 2013

Step one. Place a thick layer of fluffed wool on damp felt. (Yes, your scribe realises the apparent inconsistency in requiring felt to make felt. But consider this recipe akin to baking Sourdough bread. Both require a “starter”.) Sprinkle water to dampen the wool and felt layers. Roll the layers around a tent pole. (We’re thinking rumpus room-size rug here readers!) Now wrap the roll in a fresh yak skin so it resembles something akin to a giant California roll. Tie the bundle to the back of your horse. Gallop for hours across a bumpy landscape. Julia Child knew stirring can make or break a recipe, so make sure your yak bundle bounces, as a rough ride is key to compacting the fibres. Exhausted? Too bad. Ride on.

Hive

“Hive” felt rug by Peace Industry, Spring 2013

If like your scribe you have neither the patience nor the opportunity (nevermind the yak) to make a felt rug, then it’s time you met the fine folk at Peace Industry in San Francisco. The husband and wife team behind this wonderful company blend traditional with contemporary to create felt rugs that “bring fun and whimsy to any space without scrimping on style”. Handmade of 100% lamb’s wool, it goes without saying these felt rugs are eco-friendly, but just as important as sustainability and style, their rugs are the Philosopher’s Stone of the rug industry. Peace Industry make felt so much more than a warm, fuzzy material; it becomes the elixer and underpinning of a happy home life.

Want to learn more about Peace Industry? Patience grasshopper. Your scribe can reveal no more until the Spring issue of COVER hits the newstand where loyal readers will discover a feature on Peace Industry. Patience, whether making felt, waiting for the next issue of COVER, or saving to buy a Peace Industry felt rug, is a virtue. DJ

Yesterday your scribe attended the press preview of the British Museum’s new exhibition Ice Age Art: arrival of the modern mind. The exhibition explores sculpture and drawings during the last European Ice Age (circa 40,000 – 10,000 years ago) and the “modern” mind that made them. But man’s been making marks much longer. Homo sapiens’ peripatetic journey brought our species to Europe around 43,000 years ago where they handily supplanted the rag-tag remnants of Neanderthal man. With competition between human species eliminated, our ancestors had a bit more spare time to whittle bone, carve stones and engrave flakes of mammoth ivory with decorative animal scenes and human likenesses. Life was good. Or at least getting better.

The period the exhibition covers is rich in stunning iconography and sophisticated techniques. Whoever carved The Lion-Man was able to deftly engineer the legs to take advantage of the hollow area of the mammoth tusk bone from which it’s carved. Smart. And while there are no textiles from this period, the exhibition includes references to wall art in the Lascaux and Niaux caves – art which dates back approximately 17,000 years. Lascaux was discovered in 1940 and by 1948 visitors clamoured to get inside. Inspired by the international fame of the caves, Olga Fisch, who founded the famous Folklore store in Ecuador, designed her 1950s series of Caverna rugs which includes Lascaux’s well-known spotted bull’s head in the rug’s upper register. DJ

Olga Fisch, Lascaux Cave inspired, 1950s wool rug

Olga Fisch, Lascaux Cave inspired 1950s wool “Caverna” rug

Go on. Lean deep into the hairpin curve. Forza Tappeti Rug Revolution 2013 at the Salone Internazionale Del Mobile, Milan will be an exhilarating ride. Celebrating its second successive year at the Salone, Forza Tappeti is a COVER magazine exhibition presenting the best in contemporary hand made design carpets. COVER are delighted to present Forza Tappeti as part of designjunction’s Edit exhibition.

COVER magazine's Forza Tappeti Rug Revolution 2013. Background image is Esquire Evolution rug by Top Floor.

Get ready to ride! COVER magazine’s Forza Tappeti Rug Revolution 2013. Background image is Esquire Evolution rug by Esti Barnes for Top Floor.

The venue is La Pelota, on the via Palermo in Milan’s famous Brera-Garibaldi artist quarteriere, aka the Brera Design District. Before the massive venue was renovated and transformed to host events, La Pelota was the place to watch the riotous and rapid game of pelota. Promoted in North America (and elsewhere) as Jai alai, the small rubber game ball can reach speeds of 300 km per hour. Expect Forza Tappeti to deliver similar speed, expertise, exhilaration, players, audience and more.

Edit’s dates are 9-14 April 2013, and includes highlights from designjunction’s September 2012 London Design Week show. And now for the first time it will also include Forza Tappeti. Just two months to go. Get ready to ride. DJ