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Kavi, Jaipur Rugs

18th November 2014

An internationally recognised designer, Kavi, has spent much of her life travelling the world and practicing diverse art forms, including painting, sculpture, etc. She draws from the rich heritage of her childhood homes in rural India and simplicity discovered in global travel. She is a painter, rug designer and curator of everything design and each rug symbolizes her appreciation of beauty - in thought and action.

As a graduate from School of The Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Kavi’s love for design was first celebrated in 2006 as the recipient of the 23rd America’s Magnificent Carpet Award for re-inventing the humble Sumac. Her reputation as a designer has since grown, starting off this year as the winner of the 30th America’s Magnificent Carpet Award and being shortlisted for the Carpet Design Award at Domotex Hannover.

Kavi’s focus on diversification of product offerings combined with designs of universal appeal is the key to Jaipur Rugs’ market success and thus its ability to ensure employment month-on-month to its 40,000 strong artisan base across 600 villages in rural India. A major component in this is an approach to design that focuses on researching and understanding customer preferences and predicting décor trends. These rugs are showcased in boutiques and lifestyle stores in the top fashion cities across the world including New York, Milan, London and Moscow. Kavi’s rug design unleashes the limitless beauty of the creator’s imagination on a physical canvas and there is no limitation on what can be produced.

Kavi is set to launch her new collection Project Error at Domotex, Hannover soon in January 2015. Project error studies the concept of misprints and nature’s interruption of mechanical duplication to create unique pieces of overlooked art. The rugs in this collection were created using dry brush strokes to imitate the effect of a malfunctioning printing system, like the displays of irregularities, studied on screens used for printing on silk. Old damaged screens in this printing process present a pattern both disturbing and appealing with an irreplaceable pattern. This art work is then recreated onto a rug through 3 Jaipur artisans knotting together almost 800,000 asymmetrical Persian knots. The yarns used in manufacturing are hand carded and handspun blended yarn and bamboo silk.

Can you tell us more about your background and what was the driving force behind your career in design?

I was formally introduced to the business as a designer eight years back after graduating from Art School. To be honest though, I feel like every step of my childhood was about getting to where I am now with the company.

My father started this business in 1986 before I was even born. He set up two looms and worked with 9 weavers in my grandparents’ backyard. He traveled from one village to another changing the then prevalent system of production. We now work directly with 40,000 artisans and in a revolution for the handmade rugs business we have eliminated the middle man from our operations. This change has returned economic viability to the practice of this art form.

In that sense I grew up with the business, travelling with my father from village to village I watched the rugs come to life and the shift of the trends over time. I find that a lot of my design inspiration continues to come from these villages I grew up in and their personal sense of beauty and style - it only took a brief international break to “study design” to appreciate all that was naturally available for me. In the last eight years my attempt has thus been to simplify design at Jaipur Rugs and make them more relevant to international markets as much as to the rural Indian villages that these rugs are produced in.

What was your inspiration for the stunning Chaos Theory Collection?

In my formative years as a designer, some of my greatest learnings came from the children of the weavers who are now a part of my design team. Drawing from the insights we gained over the years and the unique contribution of each team member, we came closer to our bigger purpose. With this clarity, Chaos Theory was conceived in 2013, however the seeds for it were laid well before - through my travels in Europe and exploring the art side in design. Until then I was attempting to fulfil a brief that demanded decorative design. This appealed to me lesser with every passing season. Rediscovering the art in design freed me from the rut I was in and helped me re-connect with the experimenter in me. The rug now became a fresh canvas for me.

My natural inclination is towards organic natural surfaces. I am attracted to the idea of "nothingness"- it is something but still it is nothing. This is what I wanted to evoke through Chaos Theory. With my team, we started to create artwork that allowed for a spontaneous expression reminiscent of the work of a natural force. The team’s efforts were not just awarded but also recognized by Europe’s best fashion lifestyle stores and designers. While Jaipur Rugs was already an internationally recognized carpet brand, Chaos Theory’s popularity set a precedent for an Indian collection on the international design scene.

Do you have a favourite collection or design and why?

While I like all of the designs, Proteus design from Chaos Theory collection is one of my favourite designs. I wanted to combine the idea of the structured and the unstructured. I chose a slice of artwork and then repeated it around a point like a kaleidoscope. This became the stabilising structure for the pattern. And then we splashed paint over it to break the rigidness of the structure to express a flow of spontaneous energy.

Who do you admire when it comes to design?

During my travel, I have studied various designers and artists. But, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most succinct and elegant articulation comes from one of the greatest artists of all time whom I admire - Picasso. What I can remember about Picasso’s work that inspires me is persistence, study, work, regroup, belief that in time it will come. Pushing past doubt and building upon strength is what I have learnt over time. To make my memory present and factual I must regroup, re-study and re-immerse into the consciousness of art.

What are your top tips when choosing a rug?

Pay attention to the materials. When choosing a handmade rug in a low knot construction or a fine one, make sure the wool is long fiber and does not shred much when you gently rub your hand against it.

Always try to find a rug that is large enough to cover most of the floor in the room - The bigger the better. The eyes flows to the edges of the room making it feel more spacious.

A rug has a space in any kind of rooms, from the living room to the kitchen, from hallways to bedroom or even bathroom. It can be also displayed in different ways; it depends on how you want to decorate your rooms. A beautiful rug hung on a wall can bring a lot of character in a room, especially in a room with a refined style, as it will bring a point of focus, warmth, colors, contrast, etc. according to your wishes. Naturally, the most suitable spaces are the living room and the bedroom as it suits them by giving structure, colours and life to a space.

Any last thoughts?

Today, it gives me immense joy to see the creations of our artisans being showcased in some of the top fashion districts around the world. Who is to say that these artisans only weave rugs which have been designed by somebody else? Their creativity shines out of their own designs, inspired by their natural surroundings, woven by themselves and known to the world as Jaipur Rugs’ artisan collection.


About Jaipur Rugs

Jaipur Rugs is the leading manufacturer of hand knotted carpets in India. With a network of over 40,000 artisans in India, Jaipur Rugs follows an innovative social business model which puts emphasis on empowering marginalized communities. JAIPUR creates some of the world’s finest rugs which provide a sustainable livelihood to weavers from rural, remote areas of India while providing them a global platform.



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