Warp & Weft teamed up with the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) to sponsor Contemporary Creations: A Rug Design Competition. Twenty-four upper-division Textile/Surface Design students were commissioned to create a design in any medium with the promise that the winning design would be transformed into an actual rug to be displayed at the 2012 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF). Announced last Friday, the winning design, created by Denize Sofia Maaloe, put sustainability first and incorporated all-natural, eco-friendly fibers.
Twenty-four storyboards and design samples animated the walls of the Warp & Weft showroom for the past few weeks. The result of just over a month of work and the first exposure to carpet design for many, students showcased their first assignments from their “Custom Rug and Carpet Design” class taught by professor Deborah Hernandez. Many of the designs were inspired by nature and featured organic forms, earthy colors and varied textures achieved by using natural materials.
Judges faced no easy task with a line up of intelligent, well-planned designs expressive of each student’s choice of color, pattern and material. The students were allowed to use any medium to create their designs, knowing that with the expert advice from Warp & Weft owner, Michael Mandapati, their visions would be brought to life.
While most students gave careful consideration to the varied media used in their samples, winner Denize Sofia Maaloe exceeded expectations by also detailing the sustainable materials she envisioned for the final rug. She stated, “People are getting really eco conscious and I’m so happy to be a part of it.” Following her ethics, she chose a variety of undyed, sustainable fibers such as linen and solar spun wool from upstate New York and undyed hemp and flax. The small sample on display featured a sun-print of a sage plant from her herb garden that, in the actual rug, she intends to be made from peace-silk blessed by the Dalai Lama.
Greatly inspired by nature, Scandinavian design, love and healing, her rug is meant to provide a grounded, peaceful feeling in the home. The earthy brown-hues created by the Van Dyke Brown printing process and tactile quality of her materials help achieve this. When asked about other designers who have inspired her, she sited her experience interning with Tara St. James. “What I love about this generation of designers is that they’re so open,” said Maalone. Tara encouraged her to think about sustainability, local resources and introduced her to the concept of silk blessed by the Dalai Lama.
With a big heart, Maaloe was drawn from fashion to textile design because she found it offered a more holistic approach to design not focused solely on the privileged. Her “Full Circle” approach certainly reflects this concern. Mandapati was so impressed by the intellectual integrity behind the submissions that he decided to expand the prize and offer the second place designer, Charlotte Rodiere, the opportunity to have her rug realized and displayed at 2012 ICFF as well. The two winners will become permanent members of Mandapati’s Designer’s Studio which he started over a year ago. He stated, “With the industry being off, it inspired me. This is the time to tell the story of young designers and do it properly.”
Maaloe and Rodiere’s designs will be transformed into six-by-nine foot hand-woven rugs made of wool and silk in Nepal. Maaloe can rest assured that her sustainable and ethical concerns are met — Warp & Weft follows Good Weave standards ensuring that no child labor is involved in the process and responsibly sources materials from India, Thailand and Nepal. The final rugs will be showcased in the Warp & Weft booth at International Contemporary Furniture Fair in May 2012 along with the students’ storyboards which illustrate the thoughts and inspiration behind their designs.
Images © Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat