To explore the creation of a new product is to take a step away from what has been into the unknown, the perhaps unfathomable, the hitherto unrealized. It requires a degree of modernism and a progressive mindset insomuch that conservatism simply tends to favour the status quo. With that comes a degree of irony associated with rug makers of today who while immediately embracing the aesthetics du jour, also favour steadfast traditional techniques even at the expense of efficacy and efficiency, socio-economic concerns, and as is relevant to ‘Nylon Engulfed’ the prototype handknotted carpet made of ECONYL® regenerated nylon, contemporary environmental and climatological concerns.
On 10 November 2019 Peter Goudeseune and Sergey Burattin of Aquafil, makers of ECONYL® nylon, Shally Sarawagi of Sarawagi Rugs, and myself traveled to the north-east outskirts of Kathmandu, Nepal in order to ceremoniously remove the prototype handknotted carpet made from ECONYL®, now named ‘Nylon Engulfed,’ from the loom. This is not in any way a tradition within carpet making in Nepal – it is a commercial industry after all – but it is ceremony within weaving in Aubusson, France. The tombée de métier, the ‘falling from the loom,’ when a tapestry is removed, via cutting of the warp yarns, from the loom; it’s an irreversible step that concludes the weaving.
‘As a new rug designer I was excited by the challenge that this project brings — ocean inspired pieces that don’t damage the earth,’ says British designer Isobel Morris about her involvement in this project. ‘I have a passion for eco-friendly solutions for wildlife and the environment, I’m dedicated to a better quality of life for myself, society and future generations. Econyl offers a versatile solution for the rug and carpet industry [amongst many] and I’m proud to create designs with what I believe is the future of textiles.’
Humanity does not, and likely will not ever know precisely when weaving and knotting of handknotted carpets first started. Certainly Persia played a role, as have other regions of the world, including of course Tibet. The latter being the origin of the technique now being employed by Sarawagi Rugs of Kathmandu, Nepal to create the first handknotted carpet made of ECONYL® regenerated nylon. Designed by Isobel Morris, it is a prototype which begs the question: ‘What more can be done to improve the environment of the planet, while satisfying the needs and wants of rug and carpet consumers?’
In collaboration with Aquafil, makers of ECONYL® regenerated nylon yarns; Sarawagi Rugs, makers of fine Nepali-Tibetan carpets; and Isobel Morris, designer of textiles and carpets, The Ruggist is contributing expertise – such that it is – as well as documenting the making of the first handknotted carpet to be made of ECONYL® regenerated nylon. This is the first of a five part series of articles documenting the prototype production of a novel handknotted carpet made of ECONYL® regenerated nylon. Without further ado, this is the backstory and a peek at the beginnings of the process.