Hey Jute!

As the pulse of global design increasingly makes its way into public consciousness, we explore the profound interplay between nature and material, igniting a dialogue that transcends aesthetics and delves into the essence of sustainable design culture. Minimalist elegance seamlessly intertwines with environmentally friendly design.

Jute’s role as a natural resource cannot be overstated in a world awakening to the urgency of minimising our ecological footprint.

Given its unvarnished beauty, durability and versatile colouration, the jute plant stands as an ideal embodiment of resource-saving and eco-consciousness. It’s not merely material; it’s a statement of environmental stewardship. Jute fibres are 100% biodegradable and recyclable, offering an environmentally sound alternative to conventional materials and representing a modern approach to sustainability. This material, used for thousands of years, easily adapts to the quest for a new design ethos, complementing our timeless offerings with its clean minimalism and elemental charm.

As we weave through the intricate tapestry of design, it becomes a theme and a manifesto—a testament to our collective responsibility to nurture, protect, and preserve our planet for generations to come. From innovative material explorations to visionary architectural concepts, Rugged invites you to explore the myriad dimensions in which nature intertwines with design, inspiring a future where creativity and sustainability walk hand in hand.

Let’s weave a future where organic matters, one rug at a time.

Alessandro Pasinelli about Interior, Style, and Rugs

An Interview with the Designer

What was the first thing you remember creating?

AP:       Milan, October 2001. I had recently become a fashion designer, and the first collection to take shape was a capsule of deconstructed leather bags with metal and matte brass details. I still remember that the inner linings were in black and white pinstripe because, in my style vision, even the interiors had to be as carefully crafted as the visible parts. I had chosen liquorice black, railway grey, sand, burnt Hermès brown, and dark brown, each in a different size. I then made bracelets using the same materials to complete the look. In 15 days, I sold everything at a well-known boutique in the centre of Milan. The funny and paradoxical thing is that three months later, fortunately, I changed jobs…

 

What helped you find your voice and personal style?

AP:       It all starts from the sensitivity or intuition that each of us has within; it’s an impalpable expression that is then translated into ideas, concepts, and forms.

 

Where does your inspiration come from?

AP:       Art, in all its forms, has always given me an outstanding creative and emotional push; even now, when I stand at the initial stage of a project, my research always starts from an ongoing exhibition. More recently, it might be Anish Kapoor’s solo exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi, a photography book from the 90s or a film like the latest one by Wes Anderson. Curiosity has been a lifelong companion, giving me a lot of inspirational exposure and helping me grow professionally.

 

What are the biggest lessons you have learned since working as a designer?

AP:       A fundamental lesson is that, from the outset, it is vital to understand the historical moment the world is going through and the real needs that people have, regardless of trends and the era in which one finds oneself designing. Another key point I always keep highlighted in my mind is to arrive at a simplification of an idea; whether it’s a photographic shot, a stand, a custom project or a product for a company, the turning point always comes through applying this concept.

 

What are three things you do every day that define you?

AP:       Physical training (consistency)

Setting professional and personal goals (mentality)

Nutrition (healthy and wholesome living)

Indeed, it is a challenging but effective routine.

 

Nothing works without the support of others. Who do you rely on?

AP:       Teamwork is fundamental, and I could never do without it; in my studio, every project is shared with my collaborators and modified, if necessary, after direct discussion with everyone. My fortune is to work with extraordinary people who, like me, always put their heads and passion into what they do. Often, we don’t see eye to eye, but this allows for an equal exchange and enables me to move to the next step, knowing there’s an alternative.

 

You are a highly organised person. How do you cope with stress?

AP:       Even in moments of difficulty, I try to remain calm and never lose my composure; a solution will always be found. The real challenge is conveying this to the people who work around me and with me. Under stress, I have learned to execute a project more quickly, often making it more interesting.

My benchmark has always been the desktop of my MAC, divided into folders and subfolders… today, my mind reasons in the same way…

 

What are three words you use to describe yourself?

AP:       Insightful, altruistic, eclectic.

 

How do you define success?

AP:       Success is the result of hard work that leads you to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. It’s only sometimes attainable, but what’s essential is consistently raising the bar so that you can grow consciously.

 

You have a diverse background in design, having worked with renowned brands and envisioned various materials, objects, and design requirements. Can you discuss how your experience across different mediums has influenced your approach to design and how you navigate the unique challenges and opportunities presented by each project? 

AP:       Being cross-functional is an excellent advantage because I have had, and still have, the fortune of working with both large companies that have a specific product and approach to  entirely open-ended or freely collaborative projects. This has allowed me to broaden and absorb different concepts and work methodologies, especially regarding the use of materials. Many ideas have been born by elaborating and reinterpreting what has been seen in past years.

 

What was the inspiration behind Rugged?

AP:       We wanted a traditional product but with contemporary notes while embracing structural inconsistency so as to give the carpet a unique, distinctive, authentic appearance. Every irregularity had to become a tangible sign of the skilled craftsman’s hand, giving the product a unique character distinguished by originality. The most formidable challenge was to make it as commercially viable as possible.

We are surrounded by carpets that are more exercises in style for the designers, representing them more than the company they were designed for. So, we endeavoured to go against the current, seeking a dialogue with raw material. Alberto immediately understood our intention and supported us from the beginning, providing us with the right tools to forge this path, and his expertise on the subject was crucial.

 

 

Do We Need More Design?

Lately, I have been asking myself this question over and over again. Perhaps because I live in a design-obsessed city, as revealed by everything from the foam patterns on one’s morning cappuccino to the style of pyjamas one wears at night. Perhaps because we just experienced ‘Milan Design Week’, a stellar event which exhibits – on a grand, theatrical scale – the myriad of possible configurations of this word ‘design’. Perhaps because furniture design has become more responsive to commercial tastes, therefore influencing designers to come up with more of the same, without much venturing into unchartered territories.

This question becomes more poignant when applied to the realm of rugs. The ‘Design Revolution’ is now a well-established phenomenon and is about to come full circle. Traditional oriental carpets have been (literally) stripped of their authenticity in a quest to create the neutral fabric needed to complement our interiors. Overtly ‘ethnic’ weavings are instantly overdyed in unpredictable colours. Patterns are erased entirely for a Minimalist effect to allow for improbable juxtapositions or with classicism meeting innovation in tribute to the eclectic nature of many of today’s interior decorations. Modern design masters have been interpolated into rug design in endless ways, sometimes with truly outstanding results. Contemporary artists, from the Hyper-Realists to the Post-Avant-Gardists, have also embraced the woven medium. From my perspective, virtually all of the iconic elements of carpet design have undergone investigation and are now appearing in an endless spectrum of permutations.

All this variety has, quite ironically, generated a theoretically consistent inventory of carpets, some of which are marked by a textile form of ‘shelf life’ – meaning that, while it might satisfy the demand of a trend-hungry clientele, it runs the risk of looking obsolete once the heat is off. I wish that Milanese fashionistas would buy carpets at the same frequency they shop for clothing. Still, it must be acknowledged that what used to be a purchase intended for a lifetime is now bought with the idea of having it last for but only a decade, perhaps [though not necessarily] more. A carpet must now be timeless yet avant-garde, unpredictable yet easily adaptable to the philosophy of the room.

In formulating the recipe for the perfect rug, we need to concentrate our attention on something other than the subject of the pattern. In my experience, the buying public does not routinely clamour for innovations in that regard, as they generally find the available options more than sufficient – to the point where anything in excess might even be detrimental and lead to confusion. Although the general trend has been to move away from traditional patterns, I am finding that the most avant-garde tastemakers are starting to re-embrace the notion of a careful selection of classical designs, with a chosen few even favouring the well-worn motifs we ruggies have been snubbing since time immemorial. Instead, I am witnessing a quasi-obsession with specific palette iterations (think Farrow & Ball’s wide range of greiges) and, even more so, a sensibility towards the intricacies of texture.

Indeed, we develop the trajectory for the rug industry’s future through the creative use of materials and the way these materials are blended together. I have noticed increased attention in the market towards the deceptively simple, mixed-technique textures of Scandinavian weavings, where colour is distributed in subtle gradations and design, often a simple geometric repeat, becomes a pure function of the weaving process. The same applies to Moroccan weavings, ranging from thick-piled Berber rugs to intricately brocaded flatweaves, which offer a panoply of woven fabrics where colours are used either as brushstrokes on an empty canvas or are daringly interspersed within the complex network of wool. We can learn a lot from these weaving traditions and expand upon them to create new categories of carpets. Their evocative textures help us emphasise the unique character of a hand-woven product, where each strand is individually hand-plied and inserted in the text with a specific intent in mind.

Natural materials such as bamboo and banana silk, nettle, hemp and linen are excellent allies in this respect in that they can be mixed with wool (and silk) in varying proportions according to the effect one has in mind. Recycled fibres such as sari silk offer a unique colour iridescence that achieves enchanting chromatic results under a supervised oxidation process. Even simple cotton can be employed to great advantage when used in conjunction with wool, following the leads of Swedish as well as Indian and Persian weavers (I refer to antique cotton Agras and Dhurries, as well as wool and cotton Tabrizes).

There is still much to explore in the domain of synthetic raw materials as well. Old tribal weavings are sometimes the most eloquent examples of how one can make the most of what is immediately available, with the Boucherouite rag rugs of Morocco being a recently discovered [by the West] case in point. Encompassing what I feel might be the widest (and wildest) range of patterns one could think of at such low knot densities, the best of these Berber abstractions further distinguish themselves with outlandish juxtapositions of shredded clothing against plastic fibres and Lurex, where different design elements are highlighted by virtue of the diametrically different textures of the materials at hand.

Carpet weaving in the 21st century has taken unprecedented leaps forward. The advent of software dedicated to creating precise, easily reproducible patterns has revolutionised the market in multiple ways. While we all benefit from these rapidly advancing technologies, we also witness a compromised sensibility towards the actual handcrafted nature of rugs. The demand for weavings available quickly has led to tufted and semi (if not entirely) mechanically woven carpets representing the bulk of the market. If we genuinely care for the future of the hand-knotted rug, then we must take all the necessary steps to restore its true identity. The decorative carpet of the future should bring to light its ancestral component of human craft. Today’s carpet designers would do well to dedicate their efforts towards an intelligent array of new patterns that reference the thread in the needle rather than the pixel on the computer screen.

So, to answer my original question, we do need more design, but it’s not for design’s sake. Ironically, more design can (and would) play an essential role in conserving the past. The very fact that the textile medium has finally broken into the domain of ‘high art’ can serve as an incentive for developing a plethora of woven structures. The aim, in my view, is to veer towards true works of design rather than continue to design works.

Milan Design Week 2024 – Materia Natura

Welcome to Rugged | Unwind, an immersive exhibition designed by Alessandro Pasinelli at the Alberto Levi Gallery during the Milan Design Week 2024.

The ‘Materia Natura’ theme takes centre stage at this year’s Milan Design Week.

As the pulse of global design beats with increasing consciousness, this year’s event explores the profound interplay between nature and matter, igniting a dialogue that transcends mere aesthetics and delves into the very essence of sustainable design culture.

RUGGED | UNWIND

In Rugged | Unwind, two collections embody the essence of the holistic approach championed at this year’s Milan Design Week. Rooted in the principles of sustainability and conscious craftsmanship, each piece is a testament to our unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship, thoughtfully curated to minimise ecological impact without compromising quality or aesthetic appeal.

Through meticulous attention to detail and a dedication to sustainable practices, Rugged|Unwind offers a glimpse into a future where design excellence seamlessly intertwines with environmental responsibility.

At the heart of human civilisation lies a deep reverence for nature, a force that has captivated our imagination and spurred creative expression throughout the ages. Yet, as we navigate the intricate relationship between humanity and the natural world, ‘Materia Natura’ emerges as a clarion call for mindful innovation and holistic design solutions.

In a world where the boundaries between the artificial and organic blur, our perception of nature evolves from mere inspiration to an integral design process component. Through ‘Materia Natura’, we embark on a journey that celebrates raw materials’ inherent beauty while championing sustainability’s ethos as a guiding principle.

As we weave through the intricate tapestry of design, ‘Materia Natura’ becomes not only a theme but a manifesto—a testament to our collective responsibility to nurture, protect, and preserve our planet for generations to come. From innovative material explorations to visionary architectural concepts, Rugged|Unwind invites you to explore the myriad dimensions in which nature intertwines with design, inspiring a future where creativity and sustainability walk hand in hand.

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Enter the Zen Garden – Take off your shoes

We enter our homes. Take off our shoes. It’s more than just shedding layers of clothing; it’s shedding the day’s burdens, the weight of expectations, the echoes of the outside world. Our ‘armour’, our stress, the sounds, the rules — they do not apply at home. Here, we are barefoot, vulnerable, and finally ready to get in touch with the ground we stand on. It’s about the sensitivity of the surface beneath our feet and how it connects and grounds us. The soft, welcoming feeling of a plush, silky rug beneath our toes makes us feel truly at home. Finally, we can be authentic ourselves.

The Zen Garden rug is a serene oasis in this delicate ballet of senses. Its intricate patterns and soothing hues seamlessly integrate with the surrounding elements, bridging the gap between nature and nurture, tranquillity and vitality.
This equilibrium is the compass that guides us towards creating spaces that exude tranquillity and beckon with a sense of unity and coherence. From the bold strokes of a vibrant accent wall to the subtle whispers of a plush rug underfoot, each element plays its part in the delicate ballet of balance.
A room blessed with this magic invites us to linger, breathe deeply, and bask in its tranquil embrace. The gentle hand guides us towards spaces that not only please the eye but nourish the soul. In the delicate equilibrium of a well-balanced room, we find sanctuary, beauty, and, most importantly, home. And at the heart of it all lies the Zen garden rug, weaving threads of serenity and harmony into the very fabric of our lives.

In the picture
Zen Garden Collection
Photo credits: @mariarosce.official
Ceramics: @NKeramics More about NKermics

More about Zen Garden

Jan Kath in Paris

Every January, decorators and interior designers from around the world flock to the streets of Paris for inspiration at Paris Deco-Off courtesy of the more than 100 brands which set up shop to exhibit their latest wallpapers, wall decor, and fabrics.

In the 13th Paris Deco-Off iteration, whether ornate or minimal, the decor exhibited during the week encompassed the one thing every home should have: personality.

Take German designer Jan Kath, who showed rugs that easily take centre stage in any room at this week’s Deco-off. Their signature rugs combine oriental elements with minimal design—a nod to the past and present coming together in one decorative piece.

This splendour and glory is located in rue du Mail in the 2nd arrondissement, the Salle Érard, infamous for its musical performances steeped in history, which hosted reputed names such as Franz Liszt.

The opulence of the room revived the elements of minimalism, allowing classical elements of Jan Kath’s rugs to feel right at home. Opposing styles harmoniously merged, performing a pas de deux of elegance.

Breathtakingly beautiful, and yes, we asked for ‘encores’.

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Jan Kath

Par terre /paʁtɛʁ/Barbara Frua

Barbara Frua, the Milanese interior designer celebrated for her exquisite taste and pioneering design sensibilities, has seamlessly blended sophistication and innovation in her remarkable Par terre rug collection. Renowned as a trailblazer in interior design, Frua redefines the relationship between spaces and the ground they inhabit, infusing artistry into everyday living.

Par terre /paʁtɛʁ/

‘Par terre’, meaning ‘on the ground’ in French, is more than just a demonstration of sophisticated rug craftsmanship; it celebrates tradition, decor, and innovation whilst transcending conventional boundaries, harmonising functionality and aesthetics with each meticulously crafted piece.

Barbara Frua has reimagined iconic drawings, infusing them with vibrant new colours and transporting them into a fresh realm. This transformative process has birthed carpets that embody a seamless continuum.

Trinity of  Techniques

Being at the forefront of innovation and design, Barbara delved into the realm of working with jute, exploring its possibilities with meticulous attention. Her exploration developed three distinct textures employing hand-spun jute, each showcasing her mastery of knotted and woven techniques. Infused with geometric patterns, these designs harmoniously blend diverse cultural inspirations into Barbara Frua’s vision of elegance and timeless decor.

Inspired by the intricate art of Japanese origami, the latest flat weave collection draws from the elegant world where shapes emerge through the interplay of folds and effects of light and shade, much like the delicate crafting of paper sculptures.

Embarking on a transformative journey, infusing timeless drawings with a vibrant spectrum of colours. This evolution has birthed a collection of carpets that pay homage to our heritage and heralds a new chapter in Par Terre’s narrative. Among these, our knotted collection in wool and silk stands as the epitome of sophistication, elevating the essence of our brand to new heights of refinement.

“Colour is a power which directly influences the soul.” – Wassily Kandinsky.

Barbara Frua is not just a designer but a warrior in the battle against the mundane and uninspired. Her unofficial declaration of war against beige interiors has made her a celebrated figure in decorative textiles and interior design. With a profound love for exotic palettes and a bold approach to colour combinations, Barbara Frua has transformed our perception of interior furnishings.

Her latest collection has defined 24 new colours, allowing clients to make bold choices. With this expansive palette, the possibilities for combining colours are endless, empowering clients to express their unique styles and preferences in every setting.

Opening Cocktail: March 7th, 2024, 6 pm

Barbara Frua

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Maison & Objet, Paris

Celebrating its remarkable 30th anniversary, the interior design trade show Maison & Objet continues to be a beacon for design enthusiasts and decoration aficionados. This biannual event transforms Paris into a sacred destination for those in search of unparalleled design and decoration inspiration. Simultaneously, the fabric-focused Paris Deco Off adds another layer of allure to the city’s creative ambience.

Since its inception in 1995, Maison&Objet has stood as a formidable force within the global community dedicated to decoration, design, and the art of living. The event serves as a nexus, bringing together renowned brands and fostering meaningful international connections. Maison & Objet’s influence extends beyond physical shows, reaching a global audience through its digital platform.

Maison & Objet possesses a distinctive instinct for identifying and promoting emerging trends that shape the world of decoration. The event is a crucial industry barometer with a mission to showcase talent, facilitate exchanges, inspire creativity, and support business growth. In the pursuit of staying at the forefront of design evolution, the Alberto Levi Gallery team remains dedicated to exploring the globe for antique treasures within the textile realm. Their journey includes trend scouting and uncovering novelties in the interior design field, all to bring the world’s finest inspirations back to Milan. At Alberto Levi Gallery, we don’t just follow trends – we bring the world to you.

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Ageing with Grace

Ageing with grace, a trend of incorporating faded and distressed rugs into interior design, often associated with old-world appeal, reflects a desire for a timeless aesthetic that combines traditional charm with modern sensibilities. This design approach celebrates the beauty of textiles that have stood the test of time, showcasing their journey through wear and tear.

One of the key elements contributing to the allure of these rugs is the stunning muted colour schemes and subtle patterning. These characteristics create an impression of a well-loved piece that has been passed down through generations, adding a touch of nostalgia to the overall design. The colour palette often includes earthy tones and faded hues, enhancing the vintage and timeless feel.

The uniqueness of distressed rugs is a significant factor in their popularity. No two rugs are alike, and the distinct variations in colour and texture contribute to the individuality of each piece.

Importantly, distressed rugs do not shy away from flaws and imperfections but embrace them. These rugs are enhanced to highlight the signs of ageing, allowing the wear patterns and faded colours to become integral parts of the rug’s overall charm. This emphasis on imperfections contrasts with the pursuit of perfection often seen in modern design, offering a refreshing departure from flawless aesthetics.

The distressed style has become a staple in interior design, evoking a sense of nostalgia and appreciation for objects that age gracefully. It symbolises a departure from the disposable culture of fast-paced consumerism, embracing the idea that certain items gain character and beauty with time. And isn’t that what we all are going for? Ageing with grace.

Want to know more about Arjumand’s World?

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Spectrum – Phenomenon of Light

The ethereal phenomenon of light, an intricate tapestry woven from myriad hues, unfolds its mesmerising spectacle with particular splendour amidst the winter realms of the far north, where the celestial ballet of the northern lights graces the night sky.
This display, a testament to nature’s awe-inspiring artistry, serves as the profound muse for the JAN KATH collection, named SPECTRUM.
In a meticulous dance of craftsmanship, each knot within the SPECTRUM collection becomes a conduit, translating the intricate spectrum of light into the luxurious realms of wool and silk. In this delicate choreography, the fleeting brilliance of the moment is captured within the very fabric of the carpet, beckoning the beholder to immerse themselves in its spellbinding embrace.
The realisation of this artistic design unfolds with exquisite complexity, meticulously hand-knotted in the artisan workshops of Nepal. Up to forty different colours intertwine, blending seamlessly into one another, creating a sublime soft gradient that mirrors the elusive beauty of the northern lights.
The captivating symphony of colours inherent to the aurora borealis finds its eloquent translation in SPECTRUM. Jan Kath, after two decades of unwavering experimentation, now stands at the pinnacle of technical mastery, enabling the implementation of these graceful gradients. The transfers of northern light become immersed in a rich tapestry of colour, at times pulsating with life, manifesting as abstract swirls or ethereal cloud formations.
The SPECTRUM collection invites us to tread upon a floor adorned with dreams, where the northern lights continue their timeless ballet.

2024

As we turn the pages in our calendars to the last entry, let’s take a moment to reflect on the incredible journey we’ve travelled this year. Full of challenges, triumphs, laughter, and growth. Each day has been a unique chapter, contributing to the story of the Alberto Levi Gallery.

The lines between business and personal connections are beautifully blurred in our world. Some of our customers have become more than just clients; they’ve become cherished friends.  For us, it goes beyond the transaction.

The essence is not merely making a deal; it’s about listening attentively, understanding deeply, and advising with a touch of amicable love.

Here’s to the unique blend of business and pleasure that defines our approach. Here’s to the friendships that have blossomed amid transactions, the understanding that has deepened with each interaction, and the joy that comes from not just serving our customers but enriching their experiences.

We create a synergy that propels us forward with enthusiasm and genuine care.

The pages of the coming year are blank, waiting to be filled with moments that have never been. It’s an unwritten adventure, and we hold the pens that will shape its narrative.

So, let’s toast to the year that was and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.

Happy New Year!

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Clara Bona – A Symphony of Hues and Textures

The esteemed Milanese architect and journalist Clara Bona unfurled a breathtaking dance of colours in her enthralling journey into rug design, partnering with the Alberto Levi Gallery. With her inaugural rug ensemble, ‘Percorsi’ and ‘Ralazioni’, Bona showcased her creative prowess and orchestrated a symphony of hues and textures that echoed her profound grasp of interior design.

Within the tapestry of Clara’s vision lies a revelation—a profound and pragmatic insight. She venerates rugs as decorative pieces and indispensable elements essential to a home’s essence. They are not mere adornments but soul-stirring notes that harmonise a space, infusing it with warmth and vitality. Her perspective illuminates how rugs delineate and furnish purpose to various domains—absent a rug, a living room feels desolate and incomplete, bereft of cosiness and definition.

‘Relazioni’ unfurls a canvas that expertly navigates the choreography of colours, employing wool as its medium, elegantly drenched in a typical Clara Bona palette. It is a playful dance that orchestrates a tantalising interplay of colours—bright and brighter. This deliberate choice orchestrates a visual opulence, breathing depth and personality into each rug within the collection.

Meanwhile, ‘Percorsi’ is a reverie for connoisseurs who cherish the allure of minimalism without forsaking the embrace of warmth and character. Nevertheless, what sets this collection apart is the artisanal craftsmanship encapsulated within each piece. Every rug is a testament to the meticulous handiwork, meticulously hand-knotted in India and Nepal—an homage to the skill and commitment of the artisans.

Clara Bona’s architect and interior designer approach bridges the gap between practicality and artistry. Her work reflects the essence of an artisan, intertwining functionality, creativity, attention to detail, and a commitment to timeless design, establishing her as a practical artisan in the realm of architecture and interior design.

 

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Clara Bona

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