This year, The Rug Company is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a capsule collection of designer rugs that debuted this fall. The company is known for collaborating with artists and designers like Nina Campbell, Nicky Haslam, and Cath Kidston, and the milestone is marked by the release of five handmade pieces by Paul Smith, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Kelly Wearstler, and The Rug Company’s own designer and co-founder, Suzanne Sharp. Whitewaller spoke with co-founders Christopher and Suzanne Sharp in advance of the Miami fairs, during which the special collection will be available at the brand’s Design District store.
WHITEWALLER: How did you choose the designers you wanted to work with for the capsule anniversary collection?
CS: Picking just five designers for TRC20 was always going to be tricky as there were other designers we have worked with who are equally talented. We took the plunge and chose designers who have been an integral part of our narrative.
WW: Over the years, who have been some of the standout collaborations for you?
CS: One of our most exciting collaborations was with Alexander McQueen. When we started working with him, he was amazed by the craftsmanship involved in our rugs. We asked him to come up with the best rug designs he could and not to worry about how we’d make them. The designs were incredible and challenged us to explore new weaving techniques, and they have since become iconic.
WW: Suzanne, can you tell us about the Bonavita rug you designed for the anniversary collection?
SS: Bonavita, like many of my designs, was inspired by familiar designs derived from geometric patterns found in 18th-century buildings. The range of colors, from jewel green to smoky gray and soft blue, means that the design is easily incorporated into modern or traditional interiors.
WW: The rug was inspired by the tiles of an old Maltese church. From where do you typically gain inspiration?
SS: I am constantly being inspired—from art and architecture to the bustle of London, the films I see, or the books I read. We travel often, and I am inspired and stimulated by the different countries we visit: the chaos of Palermo, the vitality of India, the warmth of Tuscany, the earthiness of Africa. All these lend themselves to my visual vocabulary.
WW: The photographer Mary McCartney beautifully captured you and the other designers in their studios and creative spaces. How would you describe your creative space?
SS: My personal style is modern, emotional, and comfortable. Much like my home, my studio is a layering of color, pattern, and print filled with treasures found on my travels. It’s filled with light and noise; it’s cosy, warm, and inviting. I’m into being able to move things around when I have new ideas—the rug is a perfect example of my nomadic approach to decorating.
WW: The collection includes bold, colorful patterns and images. What is your best advice for incorporating a statement rug into a living space?
SS: Be confident with pattern and color— choose the rug like you would a piece of art. A rug can look totally different at home than it did in the shop, so try it at home first before you buy it. If you are unsure and not confident about what you want, a good rug shop will have professional advice at hand and will let you take the rug home to try.
Pattern is a very effective way to create a strong impact in a narrow corridor. Scale and repeat work brilliantly in this sort of space. The scale of the pattern on the rug can help you overcome some problems with a smaller room. A small repeat can make the room look bigger, but it is really important in this case that the rug fills the room.