Known for its collaborations with high profile fashion designers like Akira Isogowa, interior designers like Greg Natale and brands like Dinosaur Designs, the grass roots creative force behind Designer Rugs is very much behind the scenes.
The company’s senior designers, Christine McDonald and Lia Pielli, have both been at Designer Rugs for more than a decade, give or take some short breaks to recharge their batteries, like all good artists. It is Christine and Lia who work with the often glamorous collaborators to bring their ideas to life and make sure, however beautiful they are, that they are actually likely to sell.
Around 80 percent of the company’s rugs are custom made and every design is available in different sizes and colour ways, meaning you really can create the perfect piece for your home or commercial space. “We have to feed off the industry,” says Lia. “We work with so many interior designers, we have a good nose for what’s coming up or what’s going to be popular.” Christine adds that people have really started to embrace colour again and she’s happy to see the back of a more safe pallete. “We’re always looking to fashion and overseas for inspiration too,” she adds.
While interior trends don’t move as fast as fashion, the internet has certainly sped up the creative process.
One of the biggest challenges when collaborating, is persuading designers to design off the rugs, so that the pattern ‘falls off’ the edges so to speak. Many see the rug as a piece of paper or a canvas and try to create a pattern within it, which never works in the context of a rug.
Christine and Lia take it in turns working with the guest designers and the process can be very different, depending on their brand. “We generally let them come to us with what they want to do and then we translate it into a design that works for a rug and that we think will sell. We might change the scale or colour. Some designs translate really easily, others don’t,” says Christine. “And some designers want more input than others.” The whole process of bringing a new collection to market takes between a year and two years.
The next collaboration is with fashion designer Camilla Franks and is due out early this year. The majority of the time, people approach Designer Rugs and ask to work with them, rather than the other way around. “For us the designs need to work as rugs. Some are beautiful but more appropriate for walls or fabric,” says Lia.
The most popular ranges are those by Akira Isogowa, Dinosaur Designs and cloth fabric. Designer Rugs isn’t all about collaborations though, and these account for between 30 and 40 percent of what’s sold. Lia and Christine design many of their own in house too.