Going back to the roots of the craftsmanship behind rugs whilst rediscovering the materials and techniques that are used in order to create them is undoubtedly not an easy task. But if you have devoted your life to bringing out the beauty of nature through handmade rugs that last a lifetime, then all we - as potential and future buyers - have to do is trust the rug maker’s experience and most of all exquisite taste.
Last year, I had the opportunity to visit Barcelona where I was introduced to Nani Marquina who has carved a niche in the designer-quality handmade innovative and conceptual floor coverings market. So, it came as no surprise that I was recently captivated, once again, by her simplicity and her devotion to her craft after watching the latest video-interview she conducted with my friend Maite Felices.
So without further ado, let me quickly introduce you to this Catalan lady who founded the Nanimarquina rug company in 1987 in Barcelona and six years later embarked on her biggest adventure: relocating her production line to Northern India, where she discovered the secrets of the long-lived local methods and hence broadened her knowledge about the culture and the symbolism that rugs carry. Today, 25 years since the inception of the company, the incorporation of traditional rug-making techniques into new production methods have became a distinguishing feature and have contributed to the brand’s global recognition. And if that wasn’t enough, since then Nanimarquina has been fighting against environmental degradation and is a proud member of Care & Fair, the initiative against illegal child labour which supports individuals producing rugs in India, Nepal and Pakistan.
The Nanimarquina portfolio of rugs consists of more than 40 different collections. From ''Formosa'' which takes its name from the name that was given to the island of Taiwan by 16th-century Portuguese sailors to ''Global Warming'' where a small polar bear sits unprotected and adrift on a block of ice in the middle of an ''immense sea''. Of course the contribution of famous designers like Martí Guixé, Tord Boontje, Ron Arad and Erwan & Ronan Bouroullec, to name a few, cannot be ignored as Nani Marquina is always open to new rug stories and re-inventions. Bearing in mind the fact that her father was none other than the Catalan designer/architect Rafael Marquina who invented one of the most emblematic products in the history of Spanish design: the not drip oil/vinegar container, it becomes glaringly obvious that she is very much innovation oriented.
The latest collection which will be presented during Salone del Mobile 2013 (Hall 16, Stand E33) in Milan, Italy entitled ''Natural'' consists of seven different rugs that will immerse us into the world of nature. The rugs have been produced using an exclusive selection of natural fibres that reflect the plurality that nature has to offer, including nettle, afghan wool, silk and jute combined with four different manual techniques: Dhurrie, Hand knotted, Kilim and Hand-woven sumac.
Furthermore, the new colourway of the Losanges rug in beige and grey will also be revealed this year. Designed by the Bouroullec brothers, it is a reinterpretation of the traditional Persian rug, made by using the ancient kilim technique, and is made entirely of Afghan wool.
So for those of you visiting Salone del Mobile this year, here is a roundup of the nanimarquina items on show. Don’t miss the opportunity to see these wonders first hand and feel the power of nature that emanates from each and every one of them.
Although it is considered a “weed” botanically, nettle has several medicinal properties and is also used as a textile fibre. Grown mainly in the Himalayas (China, India and Burma), nettle fibre is greatly valued for its softness, strength and its similarity to silk. Transforming the plant into thread requires a complex firing process where the fibre is mixed with ashes and spring water.
Known as “the Golden Fibre” because of its shine, Jute is a plant that grows in tropical regions, especially in India and Bangladesh. Some of its key properties are that it is 100% biodegradable and recyclable, so it doesn’t damage the environment; it is also one of the strongest vegetable fibres that exists with insulating and antistatic properties.
There is evidence to suggest that the first silk fabrics were produced around 3000 B.C. in ancient China. Silk is extraordinarily resistant and is considered to be the longest filament produced in nature. Its structure reflects light at different angles, giving it a natural glow that, together with its soft and smooth texture, give these carpets their unique brightness and vivid colour.
Originating from Afghanistan’s native sheep, this wool fibre called Ghazni is famous for reaching lengths of up to 30cm. This exceptional length and its slightly undulating and thin structure provide a high resistance and a special softness. Like other wools, it is an elastic fibre that ages well which, combined with its beauty, makes it ideal for weaving carpets.
Vegetal (greenish grey): Durrie with Jute / Natural Collection, photo © Nanimarquina
Nomad (natural): Hand knotted afghan wool / Natural Collection, photo © Nanimarquina
Nomad (grey): Hand knotted afghan wool / Natural Collection, photo © Nanimarquina
A manual weaving system consisting only of warp and weft, with no knots, also known as plain weave. Generally the design is only formed by the warp that hides the weft. It supports geometric designs.
An entirely manual process in which the yarn is held firmly to the base through a knot. The way of knotting, the knot type and its thickness differentiate the different classes of carpets made with this system. The higher the number of knots, the higher the carpet’s value and strength. It allows a better drawing definition.
This is an Eastern technique which originally came from Western Asia and is characterised through geometric patterns. Manually knotted in looms and with irregularities caused by the hand torsion of the wool’s thread, the result is invariably a hairless design.
HAND WOVEN SUMAK
An entirely manual process in which the yarn is held firmly to the base through a knot. By weaving the yarns, knot by knot, a small braid is created, making the braid the most characteristic element of this sinuous craftsmanship.