Rugs the Right Way

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Published in Contract, April 2013

Commissioning made-to-order rug designs by world-renowned architects is an exciting prospect, but throw in a good cause and the collaboration gains even greater significance. Such is the case with Arzu Studio Hope’s Masters Collection, which is being offered to the trade through Coalesse and, as with all Arzu projects, benefits Afghans while also employing Afghan women. For this line, the women artisans handknotted designs by Frank Gehry, Michael Graves, Zaha Hadid, Margaret McCurry, Robert A.M. Stern, and Stanley Tigerman.
It’s fitting that Zaha Hadid—the first female to win a Pritzker Architecture Prize—would donate time to a cause that empowers women. Her ZH rugs pose complex sketch-like forms on pink or black to depict changing perspective as one moves through time and space.

Another Pritzker laureate, Frank Gehry, took a different approach. His vibrant Puzz rug was a challenge in “how to translate a three-dimensional object into a two-dimensional graphic,” says Gehry. “Through back-and-forth investigations, we refined the graphics based upon the constraints of traditional rug making while still maintaining the dynamism of the three-dimensional objects.” The multicolor explosion of puzzle pieces evokes a sense of piling.

Boldy-hued shapes are also prevalent in Arabesque 1 and 2 by Contract 2013 Legend Award winner Michael Graves. His designs eliminate a horizon line to create a balanced composition. “I do this with the intention that when a person walks into a room and sees the rug from a number of viewpoints, they still feel the rug is oriented properly,” says Graves.

All of the rugs are composed of 100-percent wool, handmade on steel looms, and utilize traditional techniques such as the use of natural materials to create dyes.