Knots Rugs is celebrating a decade of making rugs with three collaborations ready just in time for Decorex 2017. Malin Lonnberg finds out more
Knots Rugs is turning ten this year. The London-based company is celebrating in style, with no fewer than three artist collaborations to be launched at Decorex during London Design Festival in September. Knots’ return to the fair represents a renewed focus on the UK market and, suitably, the three artists in question are all UK-based: Michal Cole, Arthur Lanyon and George Morton-Clark. ‘All three have their own elements to offer that would work in different interiors, they are strong and individual and yet all are different,’ states Bonnie Sutton, founder of Knots Rugs. ‘They work tremendously well as a collection because they complement and offer different things.’ George Morton-Clark is a painterly painter, who delights in impasto brushstrokes. He paints abstract pieces in deep, dark colours that really spoke to Knots when the brand was looking for artistic collaborators. Settling on a piece titled At the End of the Day Everyone Has a Skull Behind Their Face dominated by a rich teal and with white highlights that Knots quickly realised reflected light in a manner resembling silk, it proved a big challenge to stay true to MortonClark’s work. As Sutton explains, there is a big difference between one artist working with a palette and a canvas and the fifty people the process of producing a handmade rug may entail. Luckily the team in Nepal rose to the occasion. ‘One of the wonderful aspects of this collaboration is the way in which our Nepalese producers, whom we trust and have worked with for years, have interpreted each painting. It’s been a fascinating creative process and we are very proud of the collection, which is truly art for the floor because it has stayed absolutely true to the artists’ vision,’ says Sutton. Sutton makes the very good point that without the skill of the weavers, projects such as this one would be impossible to carry out. It is easy to forget, but no company making fine handmade rugs can ever be better than its weavers. While Morton-Clark’s painting was difficult to translate into textile because of the way his colours change, Michal Cole’s After Caravaggio, a ghostly rendering of the Old Master’s Bacchus, demanded a different treatment to evoke the appearance of paint almost dripping down off the canvas. Up close, the nature of the image is not immediately apparent—one must back away to get the full optical effect of the human figure. On the floor, one’s location in the space will determine the look of the rug, which is an interesting visual conceit. Sutton admits that it will take an adventurous person to buy this product, and imagines that it might do well in a grand house or entrance hall, acknowledging its eccentricity. However, after ten years, it is safe to say that Knots knows what works and what does not, and this rug belongs in the former category. Out of the three artists, Arthur Lanyon is the easiest to relate to Knots’ typical aesthetic—Sutton even comments that his painting Blue Fin reminds her of Knots’ own rug Mirror mixed with Picasso. What that means is that the Lanyon canvas as well as the finished rug are abstract and graphic, employing beige and grey tones as well as a strong black and white for vigorous mark making. The London brand conceives of the woven work as an art piece as much as an art rug, and something that will appeal to collectors. Proving that careful thought has gone into the selection of source material, Sutton muses that one of the interesting features of this rug is that its surface is divided into different sections, so that it can be played around with in an interior in terms of the placement of furniture and so on. However, the most important consideration was of course that the image would be as beautiful in a rug as it would on the canvas. Knots is planning something out of the ordinary for Decorex, befitting ten years of making art for the floor. In addition to the artist rugs, the company will exhibit new colourways for rugs in existing lines, including the limitededition 17th Century Modern collection (see COVER 45) based on classical masterpieces, which made a splash at Domotex. The display will be ambitious and meticulously styled to match the refined clientele at the design fair in London that is touted as bringing in the best design buyers and interior designers. COVER expects the Knots family, literally as well as metaphorically as it is a family-run brand, to be out in full force, adding another string to their bow in the form of artist-designed rugs. Prepare for a Decorex birthday bash!