Bespoke Handmade Rugs, from Brighton to Nepal
Photography Credit: David Churchill
Some Brighton clients gave me the challenge of trying to source a bespoke handmade rug locally, ok it didn’t need to be from Sussex but with as few carbon miles as possible. I enjoy a challenge and am constantly trying to be more eco-conscious in my sourcing, so I eagerly took up the quest. I was trying to find something with the same luxuriousness as this Rothko rug we recently sourced for a client from Riviere Rugs.
A lot of research later I was not finding anyone in the UK making handmade rugs, I spread the net further to Europe and even there I struggled to find someone that could make the design I had in mind which combines silk and wool yarns. This turns out to be part of the reason that Nepal and India have such a strong hold on making bespoke luxury rugs, is that the yarn comes from that area. So they have built up centuries of incredible craftsmanship passed down to each generation of making the yarn, dying the gran and then weaving complex patterns which can take from 2 to 8 months to complete. After this they wash, shear and stretch the rugs, and it is all done by hand. There are many wonderful British rug designers such as Amy Kent who we have worked with in the past and also Margo Selby is a new favourite.
It then started to make sense as here in the UK we have a history of producing wool and so it follows that highly skilled carpet production developed including the origin of Wilton and Axminster. It is good to know that today wool carpets are still made in the UK and that there are suppliers manufacturing for customers who care about the environment. I see increasing number of suppliers using undyed wools or using only natural dyes on wool that comes from traditional sheep breeds farmed in the UK.
In Europe there is a history of making rugs from other natural fibres as well as wool including coir, jute and linen. These can be blended and work as flat weaves making interesting textures and patterns with each country having its own speciality. For patterned flat weaves in any colour look at Kasthall who still make their rugs in Sweden.
Unfortunately none of these styles of rug met our design scheme which is more formal and requires a soft plush underfoot feeling in a timeless modern abstracted pattern. Below you can see the rug design we chose. I found companies supplying rugs from Nepal and India and South Africa who have the GoodWeave mark who work to end child labour in the supply chain. More and more companies also now promise the conditions of their craftsmen as well as the eco credentials used in the production and dying process to care for the environment. In the end we have chosen this route and there is always the option to donate to a carbon offset charity as well.
I can’t wait to see the handmade rug we’ve ordered in silk and wool, this is being made in India by Coral & Hive and I know it will be a work of art and bring the whole design scheme together and we can rest assured it will last for a very long time indeed.