July 23 2010
Lucia van der Post
Walking into the (almost) spanking-new Flos-Moroso showroom in London’s Rosebery Avenue recently, what most caught my attention was the brilliant use of the old and the faded to soften and add a touch of poetry, if you like, to a showroom that is rigorously contemporary and might otherwise be a tad too white and bright. Fans of Italian design will know that, while Flos does gorgeous lights (being the company that the great Achille Castiglioni worked with), Moroso produces furniture by some of our most exciting contemporary designers (Patricia Urquiola, Tord Boontje and Ron Arad, to name just three). Both companies share a love of innovation, of pushing boundaries, of daring to be different. They share a similar aesthetic vision.
But I digress. Back to the old and the faded. In among the bright white walls, the glass and the aluminium grids were some extremely faded Persian carpets, on which were perched Antonio Citterio’s amazing lights, Urquiola’s extraordinary chairs and a wide range of both Flos and Moroso’s current offerings. But wonderful though almost everything was, it was the carpets I really wanted to take home. How, I wondered, had they come to be there, and were they merely props?
Not at all, said Patrizia Moroso, clearly thrilled that somebody else beside herself shared this somewhat eccentric taste. She’d first seen them in Paris, and then tracked them all the way back to an Italian carpet company near to her showroom in Milan. The range is called “Carpet Reloaded” for Moroso and they were the brainchild of an Italian called Golran who had a vast pile of Middle Eastern rugs, which nobody seemed to want. Though made by traditional methods, they are mostly from the first and second halves of the 20th century and so are neither new nor really old.
Golran decided to reinvigorate the genre. He took the old carpets, bleached them, or decolourised them, and then re-dyed them using natural monochrome pigments. The dyeing patterns are all unique and the finished effect always uncertain, because the dye reacts differently according to the original wool, cotton, linen, hemp or mohair that was used. Much of the charm lies in the fact that the faded remains of the original patterns still linger on. As Patrizia Moroso puts it in the introduction to one of her catalogues: “The past meets the present in a mixture of ancient manufacturing skills and contemporary design.”
The result is an enchanting collection of carpets (pictured) in a range of colours from greys and beiges through rusty shades of red to mint-greens and blue-greens. Some are complete single pieces of carpet, others consist of patches of different carpets sewn together. They come in a vast range of sizes. All are lovely. Prices are £879 per square metre.
If this is the sort of thing you love, let me also draw your attention to the re-invented old carpets to be found at the two UK Anthropologie stores, where a similar aesthetic has been worked. Here the good pieces from fragments of traditional kilims have been cut out, sewn together and put onto new backing. The effect once again is of great charm. Like Moroso’s Carpet Reloaded, they would work best in a very clean, modern environment – the gentleness of the old being a perfect foil for the sharpness of the new. Prices range from £1,000 to £4,000, depending upon the size.