The Moon Under Your Feet
The World of Designer Rugs
Floorboards, moonscapes, sand dunes or lacework patterns... Designer Michaela Schleypen has conjured up all sorts of flooring designs and over the past two years has created some veritable works of woolly art for her label "Floor to heaven". It all goes to show that rugs are more than just pieces of fabric to throw onto the floor.
Treading on many of these handcrafted, tufted masterpieces is like walking into a work of art. The materials determine the character of the pieces.
"Voluminous surfaces of roving yarn" are the next big thing in the luxury sector, according to the organizers of the Frankfurt fabric fair "Heimtextil". Restrained colors such as honey or putty are said to be on the up, although young people might be forgiven for wanting something a little more vivid.
Michaela Schleypen offers both: Sometimes she combines pink, green and orange into folklore patterns or blends gentle hues with a structured surface.
"I take the greater part of my inspiration from nature", says the designer. To ensure the realism of her creations Schlepyen uses a three-dimensional relief cut she developed herself. This means the surface of her moonscape rug doesn't just appear to be undulating, those who tread on it can actually feel the contours.
Fans of Dutch designer Tord Boontje can tiptoe across a meadow of his making. He came up with his "Little field of flowers" for the Nani Marquina company. It is a luxuriant, modern rug made up of hundreds of little flower-shaped pieces of felt.
Meanwhile Swedish maker Kinnasand opts for abstract lines and cool, northern colors. Several floral and leaf motives such as "Marla" and "Loren" feature in the collection for 2007.
Designers Patricia Urquiola and Eliana Gerotto chose wool rope for their refined rug "Crochet" marketed by the Italian Paola Lenti company. The flowers and leaves are hand crocheted, assembled and sewn by hand to a support net. The thousands of soft leather pieces that go to make "Brick" from Limited Edition in Belgium also caress the feet. The rug can even be hung on the wall, further highlighting the rectangular structure that inspired its name.
Leather and skins have always been important flooring materials but they have so far taken a back seat to wool that is currently riding the crest of a popularity wave in the design sector. A really good rug consists of "100 percent pure New Zealand wool", says Lisa Spellenberg of Kinnasand.
Low pile is easier to care for than deep pile, says Spellenberg, who points out that rugs should be carefully chosen for the environment in which they are to be laid. Longhaired carpets are fine in bedrooms and other quiet areas, said Helmut Klingenberger of the Carpet Research Institute (TFI) in Aachen. Many deep pile models are more attractive to the eye than underfoot, he warned.
Michaela Schleypen takes a more relaxed view of the matter and advises owners to resort to water, washing up liquid and patience when it comes to tackling stains.
"What you can see after treatment, such as the remains of a red wine stain - vanishes completely after a few days," she said. The high fat content of the wool gives it self-cleansing properties, said the designer.
Unfortunately this inbuilt protection is lost if the carpet is washed too often and the pride of a home can quickly turn into a problem candidate.
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