‘Watercolours’ is a new collection of 18 hand-woven carpets from Shame Studios in collaboration with Cindy Leveson of Leveson Design. These woven textiles are inspired by the formal structure of traditional carpets meeting the freedom and expressiveness of water and pigment, resulting in a unique collection of painterly rugs.
The pair have drawn inspiration from both the past and innovation occurring in the industry today, successfully creating a new language in carpets. Through applying technical digital developments to the formal structure of antique carpets they have created a collection which is painterly, playful and contemporary, something that has never been done before. ‘Watercolours’ is a new spin on the traditional, an abstract version of the conventional that although contemporary could be antique.
When Hector Coombs of Shame Studios saw Cindy Leveson’s room portraits at the start of the pandemic, he proposed collaborating on a range of rugs based on her drawings. At the time Shame was brand new with a minimalist design aesthetic; Leveson Design was an established maximalist, and the pair had never met. Cindy was initially sceptical, having never wanted to create products and preferring to work with antique rugs. Hector persuaded her to paint some watercolours of rugs which he assured her he could create without looking modern. When the samples arrived Cindy couldn’t believe how “the colours were still vibrant but slightly knocked back, the pile was as short as short can be and in places a little bit of the warp and weft were visible - just the way I like them.”
Hector felt immediately inspired by the way Cindy interpreted traditional rug design in such an expressive free-form way. His goal was to take their energy and beauty and make them real, ensuring the pile was short and they looked worn and not too modern. After three years of development, careful tweaking and revisions, there are now 18 designs, a mix of rugs and runners in patterns and colours that range from deep reds and warm corals to delft blues and ochres. The rugs are hand-knotted in workshops in Uttar Pradesh using hand-spun and hand-dyed yarns. The materials and technique lend the weave its subtle variations in tone and colours giving each piece “the soul of an antique,” says Hector. “The low pile also adds to their timeless feel. Over time, the colours will become more muted, and they will become more beautiful, this longevity will ensure they will sit happily in both contemporary and classical settings,” says Cindy.
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