Work in Progress – a Moorland Masterpiece

The Moorland Rug Company has revealed it has started work on exciting new rug collections in collaboration with the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), following the development and launch of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Lindley Collection of rugs.

Brian Sales designer and owner of the company reports that:“All three organisations are passionate regarding ethical sourcing of their licensed products and our GoodWeave accredited manufacture ticks all the right boxes.”

Moorland exhibited in May at the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show, prominently displaying the GoodWeave labelled RHS Lindley Collection of rugs, which now comprises twelve designs. The first meeting with the British Museum took place on the stand at the show, surrounded by the fabulous floral and fruit designs. Brian’s skill in enhancing elements of each rug by contrasting silk with wool impressed them and he was given the go-ahead to work on a new rug collection featuring the work of the master printmaker Katsushika Hokusai.

This first collection for the British Museum will feature the iconic and internationally celebrated work The Great Wave. Other designs include Carp Ascending a Waterfall and Finches on a Flowering Cherry. Brian explains that: “All the designs selected demonstrate the genius of Hokusai’s drawing and compositional skills”.

British Museum Rugs

The Great Wave rug in development as part of a new collection for the British Museum

In contrast, the collection Moorland Rugs is developing with the V&A is primarily Arts and Crafts inspired. Original works by Voysey, Walter Crane and Harry Napper have been chosen after careful assessment by the Museum, ensuring the very best of design and craftsmanship. The first samples from Moorland’s weavers in Nepal are eagerly awaited.

Moorland Rugs has found its niche amongst some of the greatest British institutions. Brian is the first to admit that the work is hugely challenging but a delight. His sights are always set on achieving something spectacular that provides pleasure on a daily basis: “It could be that special moment in the day when the light reflects off the silk in a particular fashion or the impact a rug makes on entering a room”.

It is anticipated the British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum rug collections will be available in the second half of 2017, whilst the RHS Lindley Collection can be currently purchased from Moorland Rugs online and at Tim Page Carpets at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour.

Buy online RHS Lindley rugs from Moorland Rugs

RHS Lindley Collection available at Tim Page Carpets and online

GoodWeave Teams up with UNICEF and TEPC to Boost Child-Labour-Free Rug Sector in Nepal

GoodWeave and UNICEF in Nepal in association with Trade and Export Promotion Centre of the Government of Nepal (TEPC) are launching a high profile, joint initiative to secure government incentives to advance the child-labour-free rug sector in Nepal. You are invited to attend the launch reception for this year long effort, which will take place Saturday January 14th at 6pm at Domotex 2017, the global floor exhibition held in Hannover, Germany.

During the 22 years or more of GoodWeave’s existence, the NGO has forged invaluable working relations with numerous bodies involved in the rug industry. The focus is on eradicating child labour from the rug industry AND that of bonded and slave labour amongst adults. GoodWeave is widely respected for its hands-on work, delivering programmes and schemes which are targeted and effective.

Rug production is one of a few major industries in Nepal ©Scott Welker

Rug production is one of a few major industries in Nepal ©Scott Welker, Nepal

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) works in 190 countries defending the rights of every child, including those trapped in cycles of poverty and violence, and is active in Nepal. TEPC promotes alliances between government and business to support Nepal’s crucial carpet industries, including the carpet industry The joint initiative between GoodWeave, UNICEF and TEPC sets out to secure much-needed incentives to boost Nepal’s rug production whilst protecting the country’s children.

Since the 2015 Nepal earthquakes, GoodWeave has seen a sharp rise in child labour on the looms. This has been largely due to trained, adult labour being in short supply as many fled the Kathmandu Valley after the earthquakes to return to their villages to help rebuild family homes and support their families. Making rugs is one of Nepal’s few major industries – reviving it is key to helping the people of Nepal recover from the earthquakes and protect its children.

The DOMOTEX 2017 mega trade opens 14th January, in Hannover, Germany.

The reception will be held Saturday January 14th from 6pm – 7.30pm on Stand A31, Hall 17.

Please do show your support by attending the launch of this important initiative.

GoodWeave/UNICEF/TEPC Joint Initiative Announced for Nepal Rug Industry

Open invitation to launch of initiative at Domotex January 14th 6pm Stand A31 Hall 17 ©Katha Haru, Nepal

BIID Launches Online Seminars for Interior Designers

The BIID (British Institute of Interior Design) has launched an ongoing series of online seminars for interior designers. Key information you need to know, all at your fingertips!   Cloud based, it can be access from anywhere in the world. The BIID Knowledge Hub provides a rich source of CPD (Continuous Professional Development) material, in a simple-to-use online format. GoodWeave was delighted to be approached to provide one of the first seminars.  A brief preview of the GoodWeave’s seminar “How to Source Handmade Rugs You Can Trust” can be seen here – all you have to do is register by following the link at the bottom of the page to read the entire seminar and any of the others. It’s free!

BIID Knowledge Hub

BIID Seminars – a new, rich source of expert information for interior designers

The idea behind the Hub is that interior designers are hungry to learn but have little time to do it. Physically attending a seminar is not possible or convenient for many. With the BIID Hub, up-to-date seminars are available whenever designers have a spare 15 minutes – all online. Each has a brief exam at the end. Answer the questions correctly and CPD points are officially allocated, vital to continuing professional development and remaining a qualified professional and also a member of the Institute.

Learn how to avoid purchasing a rug made with child labour

The GoodWeave seminar provides an insight into the many issues surrounding child and slave labour in the hand-made rug sector. It provides the necessary information for designers to have an informed discussion with their rug suppliers and to be able to make the necessary ethical decisions on behalf of their clients. The seminar also looks at rug labelling schemes, how the GoodWeave labelling scheme operates and the safety net it provides to all interior designers.

Other online seminars on topical subjects

Other seminars already available on the Hub and all free of charge include topics on fire safety as regards furnishings, acoustics and sound solutions and green buildings. A positive wealth of knowledge from experts not to be missed.

A Colourful Story: Flock & Floor_Story & the Northmore Rug

Jenny Wingfield, creative director, Flock, reveals that its latest collaboration with FLOOR_STORY to produce the GoodWeave certified Northmore rug threw up some interesting challenges along the way:

The original Northmore rug design was first committed to textile print and so we didn’t really have any limitations in the number of colours we could use, or the level of detail for that matter. Rachel Parker’s original design celebrates colour and pattern in full glory, so we were keen to make sure that the rug lost none of this ethos and captured the vibrancy and character that has made Northmore one of our most popular fabrics.

GoodWeave labelled Northmore rug from Floor Story

The Northmore Rug is a celebration of colour

How to reduce 100s of colours to 26

When Rachel and I sat down with Simon it was clear the biggest challenge would be working the tonal nuances we can achieve in print in the sheer number of colours required. What is achievable with print is simply not possible with rug making, but I was slightly concerned when I learnt that most rugs only used a select amount of colours and even the best were often limited to around 12 or so. However, Simon, Rachel and I had a clear vision for where we wanted to go with Northmore, so we set about ripping up the rule book and pushing our artisans to the edges of possibility.

Rachel managed to reduce the 100s of colours with the original design down to around 26, which is still astounding by rug-making standards. Even with her experience as a designer this wasn’t an easy task, with Rachel literally spending hours using a digital rendering to replace colours here and there with one of the selected 26, or making a multi-coloured shape a solid colour block. Taking this revised 26-strong palette, Simon and I had to compare to the wool samples available to get the truest match, not only in colour but also character.

GoodWeave certified Floor_Story Northmore rug

The Northmore rug is new from Floor_Story

In the end we collectively opted for a slightly muted palette in comparison to the original fabric print, but this works well for a rug anyway, and we’ve upped vibrancy with the inclusion of Chinese silk, helping to give selected colours a tonal shift that mirrors Rachel’s creation. To date, this is FLOOR_STORY’s highest colour count in any rug, but I really don’t think we could have captured the character of the original without going down this route. It really is an exceptional rug that challenged our creativity here at Flock, Simon’s knowledge at FLOOR_STORY and the craft of the makers who produced these GoodWeave certified rugs.

Rachel Parker at Flock

Rachel Parker designer of the original Northmore textiles

To discover more go to the FLOOR_STORY website at www.floorstory.co.uk

Vivienne Westwood Rugs Tap into her British Heritage

Vivienne Westwood and The Rug Company first collaborated back in 2005. The resulting “Parody of Establishment”, as it was referred to at the time, included the legendary handmade rug design known as VW Flag. Since then, the two have combined forces many times, with three new Vivienne Westwood rugs about to be launched at Decorex International 2016.

In June this year, Graduate Fashion Week honoured Westwood by re-naming their ethical fashion award the “Vivienne Westwood Ethical Fashion Award”. This, combined with her vociferous campaigning about the dangers of climate change, makes her association with a company that ensures its rugs are certified under the GoodWeave ethical labelling scheme all the more fitting.

Three new Vivienne Westwood rugs

Eleven years after her first foray into rugs with The Rug Company, Vivienne has similarly tapped into her sense of heritage and “Britishness” to create Thistle, Moiré and Vivienne’s Rose Dust. The affinity she has with Scotland, aptly illustrated by her MacAndreas tartan, is said to have originally been inspired by her husband and design partner, Andreas Kronthaler. On this occasion her abstract take on Scotland’s national flower and emblem, the thistle,  makes an explosive statement as a rug. In contrast, the other two designs have a more gentle and traditional tone.

Vivienne Westwood rugs GoodWeave labelled

Thistle Gold by Vivienne Westwood for The Rug Company. Hand knotted Tibetan wool & silk. 2.74×1.83m

From the outset the creative process is a team affair, as Vivienne explains. “The graphics for the designs start with prints from our archive. A tribute to Alex Krenn, one of our oldest friends who works on our design team and who then translates the prints and graphics on to these beautiful carpets. They are really special.”

The Rug Company’s weavers translate the designs into hundreds of thousands of individual knots – around 780,000 knots for each of these 2.74m by 1.83m rugs. Soft Tibetan wool and fine silk are woven together to capture the nuances of Vivienne’s designs. Each rug is entirely handmade by weavers in the Kathmandu area of Nepal – world recognised for their expertise.

The combination of world-class design and traditional Nepalese weaving skills is simply formidable.

Thistle Pewter by Vivienne Westwood for The Rug Company. Hand knotted Tibetan wool & silk. 2.74x1.83m

Thistle Pewter by Vivienne Westwood for The Rug Company. Hand knotted Tibetan wool & silk. 2.74×1.83m

Deirdre Dyson talks about her new film and hand-knotting

Following on from her book ‘Walking on Art’, Deirdre Dyson has released a slow-motion film which follows the production journey of a hand knotted Nepalese rug. Artistic in style and set to haunting pipe music, the film moves from one process to the next, drifting in and out of focus, interspersed with the remote sounds of the workshop and scenes of Nepal. Here Deirdre talks about the inspiration behind the film and why she is in awe of her weavers.

Deirdre Dyson's Walking on Art
Walking on Art was published in 2015

Q: Weaving a handmade rug involves many processes. In your opinion, which are the critical stages of production which make your rugs so special?

A: For me, two particular aspects are crucial: the accuracy of our artwork and the maker’s translation of this into a map which shows every stitch for the crafts people to follow. Likewise, the selection of colours we make has to be perfect for the client and dyed exactly by our makers.

Q: When you design, to what extent do you tailor your creativity to reflect the skills of your weavers?

A: When I first learned about hand knotting, I tailored my designs to what I knew the weavers could do. However, over time I have experimented much more and have discovered with great excitement that so far anything is possible.

My Mosaic Collection was a particular challenge as I asked our weavers to create a circle of small silk tablets, divided by wool grouting and in constantly changing colours. This all whilst working left to right! During the last two years, I have been concentrating on grading. This requires perfect colour selection and measurement at our end and perfect blending in Nepal. I have been so pleased to find that they have been able to grade at an angle, inside out and opposing colours upside down, all whilst working left to right.

Q: The art of making rugs is beautifully filmed in your video – how would you describe your relationship as an artist with the weavers who interpret your work?

A: I have spent my life as a fine artist and my concepts and designs are formed by this experience.  I regard the making of the final product as the final ‘painting’.  I am completely in awe of their skill and in love with the dedication they show, making my designs into such beautiful and exceptional quality carpets.

Deirdre Dyson hand knotted rugs

The intricacies of hand knotting

Q: What was the initial inspiration behind the film?

A: When I wrote my book on the process of making my carpets, I soon realised that it is very difficult to explain in words how the actual knot is made.  My photographer, Colin Peacock, (Colin Peacock Photographics) suggested that a slow motion film would be perfect at describing this. And so the idea of making a film was born. Colin spent a week early in the year in Nepal, planning and sharing his storyline with me. It follows the book’s journey, entwined with his personal impressions of Nepal.  He and his small team shot this film the week of the earthquakes in 2015 and their last shot was of the sunrise the morning of the first quake. They experienced the horror and the fear and were trapped In Nepal for three days. Finally, they managed to find their way home to the UK. We think we possibly have the last footage of some historic buildings.

We dedicate this film to all those who suffered loss of life, homes and livelihood.  This film describes the beauty of Nepal and the conditions of workers but most of all their joy, dedication and amazing skills.

GoodWeave hand knotted rugs

The film intertwines the art of rug making with scenes of Nepal

Juliet Sargeant’s Modern Slavery Garden – More than Flowers

Juliet Sargeant chats about her Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winning Modern Slavery Garden, its impact and how you can make a difference and #ASKTHEQUESTION

Speaking to Juliet Sargeant, the gold medal winning designer of the Modern Slavery Garden at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, underlined how a visual message can have far more impact for some people than words will ever do.  Standing to one side of her garden, we chatted about her inspiration and the journey she had taken with the garden’s suppliers to create it; meanwhile visitors discussed her planting, why the garden centre was so stark and the significance of the doors with no handles. It was apparent that the garden’s impact with visitors was immediate and triggered all sorts of emotions about a topic which is so often just swept under the proverbial carpet. Juliet said the response had been wonderful, including “burly men with damp eyes” and teachers telling her they were going to talk about her garden and its meaning to their pupils in school assembly.

Modern Slavery Garden

Juliet Sargeant talks to GoodWeave about her Modern Slavery Garden

Modern Slavery Act

She freely admitted she knew little about the issues of modern day slavery, a “hidden crime”, before being approached to design the garden. Some years back she had designed a garden in response to the tragic deaths of Chinese immigrants at Morecambe Bay, forced by gang masters to pick cockles and who were caught by the tide. Sponsorship for that garden did not materialise and so she jumped at the chance to design a garden for this year’s Chelsea to celebrate The Modern Slavery Act, which was passed by the British Parliament in 2015.

Juliet Sargeant Wins Gold Medal at  Chelsae Flower Show

The stark centre of the garden was visually striking

Monty Don questions why gardens need to be about anything

In a recent article written by Monty Don in Gardener’s World Magazine (June 2016 issue) and co host of the BBC’s coverage of Chelsea this year, he questions why so many show gardens have a theme and are “about” something. Surely, he says, gardens should not be “about” anything, they are just gardens? He likewise pursued this train of thought with Juliet when he interviewed her for the BBC’s Chelsea coverage last week, referring to her garden as a “deeply provocative garden and certainly political”. Should a leisure activity be politicised?  Well, surely yes if it is at the expense of other people? Likewise, just because we really want a certain rug doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t first make enquiries as to whether children and slave labour were involved in manufacturing it and then make a more informed purchasing decision? Taking things simply on face value sounds a nice idea but is not necessarily to everyone’s advantage.

 

Modern Slavery Garden

The lush planting revealed through the open doors to freedom

Slavery is often hidden behing closed doors

Juliet explained that once she had the garden brief she had visited London for her initial inspiration. Walking down an affluent road of Georgian houses, all fronted with substantial front doors and railings, she watched a delivery driver manhandle a large parcel over the top of the railings as the “maid” who opened the door seemingly had no means of opening the gate. Was she a hidden slave?  Following this encounter, Juliet’s design quickly emerged.

Vivid planting and stark contrasts

The garden was a small plot. Lush, vivid planting surrounded the black railings which marked out an area covered in black charcoal, broken by just a single oak tree, and a few oak saplings which had been grown by rescued slaves found in the UK. Closed doors with no external handles reinforced the imagery of a prison. In contrast, the oak tree and oak saplings referenced the importance of William Wilberforce’s anti slave movement of the 19th century and the continued efforts of people today to raise awareness of the issues of slavery and their endeavours to eradicate it. Juliet explained that she worked closely with the stone, paint and timber suppliers and chose partners who were “honest and had a genuine interest into looking into their supply chains”. However, getting to the bottom of where and who made the steal for the railings proved far more difficult.

#ASKTHEQUESTION

Juliet and I chatted about the work GoodWeave does and she drew my attention to the #ASKTHEQUESTION campaign, explained on the leaflet to her garden, which is as relevant to rugs as stone, timber or flowers…

Companies must now disclose what step they are taking to deal with slavery in their supply chains

Join the Campaign!

Take a photo of a product

Post to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

Tag the Manufacturer & use #ASKTHEQUESTION #SLAVEFREE?

10 Centimetres Per Day

Designer Angela Fulton has just returned from a trip to Nepal to see the production of hand-knotted rugs (watch the video). She talks about the production process and her first impressions of Nepal.

For anyone who is surprised when they are quoted 12-16 weeks or more for delivery of a hand-knotted rug, I urge you to take a few minutes to watch the short videothat Jacaranda Carpets has recently produced.  It was filmed in March during a visit by Jacaranda’s Designer, Angela Fulton, to the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, and is an eye-opener.

Hand-knotted Rug Production Caught on Video

The video Hand-knotting the Himalayan Way features all the key stages of production, from carding the sheared wool, through to spinning and dyeing, weaving and finishing. The artisan manufacturing process involves a large team of workers, with many of the tasks surprisingly physical as well as highly skilled. Watching a rug emerge on the loom at roughly 10 linear centimetres per day should be compulsory viewing for anyone involved in selling or promoting rugs. It is a wonderful story to share.

This was Angela’s first trip to the weaving community of Kathmandu and on her return I caught up with her about her experiences:

Hand-knotting rugs in Nepal

Angela Fulton of Jacaranda Carpets & Rugs in Nepal

Q: It is nearly a year since the terrible Nepalese earthquakes in 2015, is there still much evidence of the devastation?

A: The piles of rubble, where once there were shops and homes, and the wooden scaffolding propping up historic buildings are noticeable. Whilst our suppliers have managed to re-build their facilities, it is evident that there is much reconstruction still to be completed. However, seemingly a bigger problem has been the road blockages on the Nepal/India border, which has caused a dire shortage of fuel, basic supplies and food. Although the protest is officially over now, there were months when the need to queue for fuel and food prevented people from working. Many were forced to make a daily choice between queuing to obtain food or going to work and earning money to pay for supplies. Even now that the situation has improved, prices are still higher than before the blockages, which has increased the cost of living in Nepal. Despite everything the people have to put up with, I found everyone I met incredibly positive and welcoming.

Q: You saw the whole production process of one of Jacaranda’s Himalayan rugs – what impressed you the most?

When I work with interior designers on a special rug commission, the issue of colour and quality is always an important aspect which we discuss. Jacaranda employs an inspector in Nepal and it was excellent to meet him and understand the minute level of scrutiny undertaken throughout the production process. For instance, if yarn is spun slightly too thick a gauge, this has a direct knock-on effect on the number of knots achieved per square inch; in turn, this can distort the pattern and also the dimensions of the final rug.  The yarn is dyed in massive vats of hot water and then dried in the sun; each batch of yarn used is meticulously checked against our agreed strike-offs. We also choose to have our wool hand-carded, as it results in particularly strong fibres and softer rugs.

Hand-knotted rugs in Nepal - spinning

The gauge of yarn impacts the overall rug quality

Q: There seems to be a trend to mix wool with other fibres such as bamboo, banana and silk. Why is this?

A: Tibetan wool has naturally high lanolin content and has long, strong fibres, which is why we use it in our Jacaranda Refined Himalayan Collection. The combination of silk (from China) and other fibres adds texture and makes more interesting tone on tone designs. This is a subtle look for which Jacaranda is particularly acclaimed. The silk has a natural luminosity, which creates different effects depending on the light. We use banana silk in our Mirage rug, achieving a fabulous sheen and ultra soft result.  When visiting suppliers, it was interesting to see they were experimenting with other yarns too, including hemp and nettle. However, so far we have found that our European customers prefer the warmth, softness and luxury of wool.

Goodweave labelled rugs only use adult labour

A hand-knotted rug takes weeks to produce at roughly 10cms per day

Q: Jacaranda signed up to the GoodWeave certification scheme many years ago. Is it still as relevant to your business as ever?

The labelling scheme is fundamental to the values of Jacaranda. In recent years, the GoodWeave Standard has expanded from certifying that a rug has been made without child labour to also ensuring there is no forced or bonded adult labour. This additional aspect of the GoodWeave label is very good news to all concerned and necessary if customers are to have full confidence in the rugs they purchase.

Floor Story Starts New Chapter with Sunny Todd

Sunny Todd’s style is bold and BIG and translates well onto rugs. Floor Story, the UK rug retailer making a name for teaming up with young, exciting designers, has just launched two exclusive rug designs by the husband and wife duo. The ‘Diamond’ and ‘Zig Zag’ rug designs have an energy and element of fun – a refreshing new take on graphic design.

Floor Story GoodWeave labelled rugs

Sunny Todd rugs from Floor Story are child labour free certified

The Sunny Todd rugs are the latest additions to the Floor Story collection of rugs. Simon Goff, the driving force behind the rug retailer, explains that Sunny Todd approached him with the idea to collaborate having spotted the company’s successful partnership with the designer Kangan Arora. In fact, the role call of talented young designers that Floor Story has teamed up with to date makes an interesting ‘Who’s Who’ of young talent, including Eve Spencer, Rob Pybus, plus Caroline and Dylan from A Rum Fellow.

Kelims Provide an Accessible Price Point

Floor Story has expanded its offering substantially in the last few years, inspired by Simon’s vision: “I love Kelims. Sunny’s designs are highly geometric and as such work well with the natural warp and weft of this style of weaving. Kelims also allow us to sell at an accessible price point, which pleases those customers who like to take a few risks with their interior styling and regularly ring the changes.”

Ethical Production

The Sunny Todd rugs are made in India and are all GoodWeave labelled, which certifies the rugs have been made child labour free. The intention is for all Floor Story’s rugs to be certified by GoodWeave but as Simon explains, you have to make this ethical journey with your suppliers, you can’t just impose it: “Some rugs are made in workshops in the main rug producing belt of India but others are made in remote villages, where there is a different way of life. We are working closely with our suppliers on various aspects, including child labour, working conditions and education – it takes time in India but we anticipate all will be GoodWeave compliant in time – we will get there.”

So what innovative new rug designs are coming through for introduction in 2016? Floor Story is collaborating with Russell and Jordan on a new collection and new designs from Camille Walala are imminent. Simon’s parting comment sets the scene: “Be prepared, Camille’s new designs are VERY bold!”