What is a “Bespoke” design for rugs?
I’m often asked about my process of designing and having a “bespoke” rug made; an original design created specifically for an individual client’s space and personal style preferences. In some cases, the client loves to participate very directly in the design process.
Octagonal version of the design "Falling Leaves"
I selected “Falling Leaves” to share here, as a good example of this experience which is many steps beyond the typical customizing of an existing collection design for size, shape, colors, and even texture.
For me, the process of collaboration with the client is especially enjoyable. Although these clients are in the Boston area, and it was easy for me to travel to their home for our meetings, it’s also possible to work with people long-distance. I’ll write about that in another post.
It’s more than a rug purchase, it’s really about the total experience. My goal is to to invite each client into the process of creating a piece of custom art work that they will enjoy for generations. Of course, people vary in the degree to which they want to be involved. In this case, the clients were excited about in-depth participation on every level.
We had a number of meetings together from start to finish. At the outset, we determined the “subject” of the design. I had a little head start on this because, about 10 years ago, they had engaged me to create a pair of hand painted canvas floorcloths for these same areas. The painted designs were made in 5′x7′, and 8′ diameter—with 12 sides!
What to include?
Their kitchen/dining space included warm cherry wood cabinets, oak floor, and a silvery granite countertop with some grayed blue-green undertones. Fabric of the window treatments included colors and shapes they love. All these elements were very important to them in the look of the new rugs, and it was those considerations that set the tone of the design development process.
Now that they have an adult household, doing actual hand-woven rugs was an exciting and viable option. Exploring the variety of fibers, colors, and weaving techniques that are an intrinsic part of creating a hand knotted rug was a very pleasurable part of the process, in the expectation and anticipation of the final works.
About the designs: the goal
Two custom rugs, “Falling Leaves.” The pair is a 5′x7′ rectangle, and an 8′x8′ octagon. The rectangle was made for the work area of the client’s kitchen (all wool, 100 knot), and the octagon was made to go under the round table in the adjacent dining area, on the other side of the peninsula.
FLORA: "Falling Leaves," on the kitchen floor
We discussed the fibers to use, and the overall color palette that would best represent their ideal rug design. While they had an interest in including some silk in the designs, we explored that possibility but ultimately opted for using 100% Himalayan wool (the only type of wool I use for Silk Road Weaves rugs). In having the samples made up, we included one with some silk in it also, just to be sure of the look. Everyone loved the silk look and feel, but of course that’s not so practical for this setting.
This "Bespoke" design: FLORA/Falling Leaves. Left: 5'x7' Right: 8' Octagon
From our overall color palette, to create additional depth of color I suggested combining multiple colors and dye-techniques within the various color fields. Again, this was something that I specified in our samples, so we could see how it looked in a few different ways.
That’s just one thing I love about the creative process of designing these rugs as an art form, just another medium. There are so many ways to create visual interest and depth of color, even with a more limited palette and basically “graphic” design style.
Closeup - texture of Falling Leaves
For our first meeting
I brought yarn poms of wool and silk, and worked out rough sketches to start with. Then, back in the studio I translated the design to the computer where I could adjust the overall design and the placement of colors. This is a very effective way to preview the possibilities and make changes as needed, to develop the design. Once we had the basic idea of the 5×7, I developed the 8′ octagon, taking into consideration the placement of table and chairs. In our subsequent meetings together we honed the color selections and refined the details, the entire look and texture of the two rugs.
I sent for the samples and…after one month they arrived. Because we had been meticulously attentive to all details along the way, they loved all three versions but the final decision was easy for them to make.
Why this shape?
Yes, we could have made it round, but wanted the octagon as a more interesting shape that was very compatible with the design style and the space it would be used. As with all our collections, these rugs can be customized to suit any personal space and style with size, color, and fiber preferences.
Dining area, the 8' octagon rug.
“It’s hard to believe that our third project with Barbara is even better than the first two! The beach scene mural that Barbara painted on our wall, over 10 years ago, continues to be timeless and bring joy. And while we are sad to say goodbye to the canvas floorcloths that she created for us eleven years ago, the replacement rugs she has just designed are magnificent, with Barbara’s impeccable choice of color and textures woven in a stunning yet subtle design. We’re finding it difficult to walk on these works of art!
Perhaps best of all was how easily Barbara brought my husband and me into the design process. She educated us on the process of rug making that would happen half way around the world and kept us informed of progress via email and pictures. In the design mode Barbara welcomed our suggestions and sought our input, making the three of us a team.
Barbara’s versatile talents create one-of-a-kind jewels that transform a room into a very special space. Bravo, Barbara, you’ve done it again!”
Want more information about the process and materials?
View our 2-part slide show, “The Journey, from Inspiration to You,” to find out more about the materials and processes of making a hand woven Tibetan rug from Silk Road Weaves.
Register to receive Barbara’s e-newsletter and download your pdf of our white paper
“Enjoy the Process: Guidelines for Working with a Design Professional.”