Tania Johnson’s designs are greatly influenced by her photographic work of the natural world. Her rugs are tactile experiences that play with light, microscopic detail and texture. Composed of wool, silk and pashmina, the rugs provide a natural surface that varies in feel and look. For instance, from her latest Light collection, Glow incorporates a sleek, green silk core that slowly disintegrates into a matte, indigo wool background. Similar to the natural world, it invites the viewer to get close, inspect the surface and feel beneath it to discover numerous surprises.
Like Uhuru, Tania Johnson is very conscious in her selection of materials. The wool is sourced from the Himalayas and the silk originates in China. The tightly knotted rugs, some with as many as 150 knots per square inch, are also produced under highly regulated conditions. She works with Good Weave to ensure that the rugs are made only by adult artisans and that no child labor is involved. In addition to enforcing fair labor standards, the program helps fund children’s education initiatives and provides support and resources for weaving communities in South Asia.
Johnson has found a U.S. home base with a like-minded team who is also concerned with materials, process and craft. The entire life cycle of products are considered. About 12 people work at Uhuru’s base in Red Hook, Brooklyn and wood is salvaged from a variety of sources. Old, urban trees that get cut down or destroyed by storms are converted into smooth, wide single slab tables. Scraps of wood left from bigger projects in the shop are incorporated into table surfaces that are carefully puzzled together. Wood from the hey days of Coney Island find a second life thanks to a talented team of creative minds.