Milan 2013

Bertjan Pot on warp and weft


24 April 2013

“I like carpets. I have some in my house," says the Dutch designer Bertjan Pot blithely. "I have opinions about carpets.”

Pot's opinions about carpets have resulted in Triangles, a collection of four rugs for Persian rug manufacturer Golran, prototypes of which showed in Milan during design week. The series’ patterning is built up from equilateral triangles and coloured in dense reds, blues and greens. "Spicy colours," says Pot. "There's this whole pastel trend in design, so that was something to stay away from."

Triangles is an example of kilim, a style of woven carpet where the vertical warp is bound tightly to the horizontal weft threads to form a flat surface and tapestry-like effect. It stands in contrast to woven pile carpets, where the warp is looped up to form an uneven surface.

Kilim is relatively unfamiliar to Golran, a manufacturer founded in 1898 in Mashhad in Iran and which has traditionally focused on more luxurious pile carpets. The company rose to prominence in 2011 with its Carpet Reloaded concept, vintage pile carpets aged through decolouration, or cut up and re-sewn into patchwork rugs.

“I like kilim although traditionally it's cheaper than pile," says Pot. "But I prefer it to carpets with a pile as it seems more rugged. I thought it was silly that Golran don’t use kilim a lot, because by wearing down the carpets for the Carpet Reloaded concept they get rid of all the pile.”

Carpets are not new to Pot, whose 2009 Duct-tape carpets saw him melt strips of coloured tape into the surface of antique rugs. But producing the Golran range from scratch allowed Pot to develop his interest further, with the series’ distinctive geometrical patterning arising from the manufacturing processes used to produce the carpets.

"If you look at kilim, the weaving technique means that you get strong horizontal lines, but there are hardly ever vertical lines between the colour," says Pot. Instead, Pot manipuated the striking diagonal lines that characterise kilim, accentuating the aesthetic through the angled sides of triangles used in the pattern. "That diagonal is one of the archetypes of kilim, so I knew triangles would give you a traditional kilim look."

“Golran were really interested in referencing the Old World," says Pot. "But as a designer I like to look forward. The nice thing about geometry is that it’s old and new. It’s not that you take an old pattern and try to make it modern. A geometrical pattern is of all ages.”

The carpets are handmade and each piece takes around two months to complete. Manufacture is based in Turkey, meaning that Pot, whose design process is typically material-led, was forced to rely on computer imagery while producing the design.

“Normally we’re used to making samples and experimenting a bit in the studio," says Pot. "But since the carpets are not made in our neighbourhood we had to do it all on Illustrator. We had a few samples of wool and had to really think what the finished product would look like. We’re used to far more feedback.”