Rugmaker Emma Gardner Design will be debuting three new designs, together dubbed Metamorphosis, at this year’s ICFF. The result of two years of design and development, the new carpets take their inspiration from nature, Asian motifs and Modern art. Each piece also comes with a haiku, composed by Gardner herself, that offers further insight into their inspiration. We were intrigued by the designs and their literary bent, so we asked Emma to fill us in on some details.
What prompted the new collection?
It had been a year since my last collection—an understated one—and I wanted to create designs that were modern and full of bold, brilliant color. I can’t say that the designs were the result of a conscious undertaking; rather, they were a manifestation of the themes that were preoccupying me at that moment: natural elements and forms and a desire to play with their recognizability—or lack of it. As a result, I came up with three designs that are pretty abstract but rooted in nature. Nautilus is a highly stylized version of the beloved mollusk, Rainy Day was born from my own photo of a rainy day moment and Organica was inspired by some bougainvilleas that I had also captured in a photo.
How does it depart from your other designs?
These designs are more experimental than past designs. This freedom is most evident in Organica and Rainy Day. I haven’t tried this exact kind of organic exploration before—blowing up and completely abstracting forms, coloring them and treating them playfully, almost like a puzzle. It was definitely a new approach for me.
How does it complement existing designs?
I try never to repeat myself but I think I have a style that seems to show up no matter what I do. In that way, these designs fit in with what exists in our line. Also, all the colors come from our existing palette. There are so many permutations, though, that it’s easy to keep the colors fresh without removing them from the family, so to speak.
Did the design process for this group differ from previous ones?
The design process is usually about the same: I have some ideas—thematic, graphic, stylistic, color-based, etc. —play with them, discard what’s not working, keep improving on what is, bring color into the conversation to see where it leads the design and make sure the designs in a collection relate to each other in some way.
What’s different here and with each new collection is in the nature of the themes being explored—I always learn from past efforts and bring cumulative wisdom to each project. That, and software is always changing so the designs that are significantly developed on the computer sometimes benefit from the new technologies.
The haikus? What inspired the pairing of the verse? Was it something percolating during the design process?
They actually started as a kind of joke. So often when I’m asked about inspiration I find myself groping for answers. Occasionally there’s one clear source but often there just isn’t. So much happens in the act of designing itself that the original inspiration may not even be relevant anymore.
So, it was almost in frustration that I started to pick adjectives and images and put them into the familiar haiku structure. I don’t take them seriously as poetry but it was engaging and so much fun! And I discovered that with the haikus, I could define and express the essential nature of the designs much better than I could with a pieced together version of what did or didn’t truly inspire me to begin with. Stay tuned for more, I hope!