For many years, we have been traveling to Nepal and India regularly to visit the workshops where our hand-knotted and hand-woven rugs are produced. Apart from the creation of new collections, our concern for these countries and their people is becoming more pronounced each year. Their unending patience, kindness and joie de vivre inspire us and show us how little it takes to be happy.
What could be more exciting than seeing our rugs while they are still on the looms, being made?
Here, you can watch true masters of their craft and admire their incredible dexterity up close. In the workshops, men and women work together in small groups, the tone is easy-going. The age-old tradition of knotting rugs has been carried forward almost unchanged.
On the loom right now is "Shibori Wave", a design from the Shibori Collection, inspired by the Japanese dyeing technique of the same name: Soft pastels and gentle colour transitions prevail, mohair adds an extravagant touch.
Of course, there is someone who inspects all rugs on site: Rainer Jedinat. Originally from Reutlingen in Swabia, he has been living in Nepal for more than 20 years and knows all there is to know about rugs: knot density, warp tension or colour control, nothing escapes his eye. He is an ardent advocate of superior craftsmanship with high demands on production standards.
The loom itself looks rather ancient, not modern at all. The carefully stretched warp threads form the basis of each hand-knotted rug. The knotting tools look just as archaic and never cease to amaze us – we cannot visit Nepal without taking another photo of panja and thuwa.
Looking at "Fantaisie Impromptu" from the "Lost in Translation" Collection, there is always a new detail to discover, since it offers so many colours, shapes and different materials – pure joie de vivre that seems to be contagious, triggering the same feeling in the person knotting the rug.
Amazing still lives can be found anywhere in Kathmandu: mugs and bowls, pots and cans of the most amazing shapes and colours – which goes to show that beauty can be found in the street or just behind a hut.
Working with approximately 20 base colours, an experienced dyer can easily produce up to 2.000 different shades. How is this supposed to be possible? It requires a great deal of experience, patience and sensitivity, since each material reacts differently and not even two types of wool are alike.
Visvakarma, the deity of the creative power that sustains the universe, can be found where there is electricity or on building sites. However, we have never been able to figure out where key no. 3 might be.
The workers of our Nepalese workshop do not dress up like this every Saturday – only if we bring our camera. This portrait shows Ravin Subba, in charge of production at the workshop, with his wife Shanta Rai and his daughter Ninwa Hangma Limbu. Like many of their colleagues, they also live at the workshop. Ravin's know-how, diligence and patience are truly unequalled. We could never do without him!
Oh, India, how much we have grown to love you!
Visiting workshops in rural areas is always one of the highlights of our journey. It takes more than 1½ hours on dusty tracks, immersed in street life, to visit Sartaj and his wife Safeen. Here, daily life and the weaving of rugs take place under the same roof. It is fascinating to watch them work together in their smooth routine, their well-established, soothing rhythm. Currently, they are making a rug for Kostas Murkudis, which he and his brother Andreas Murkudis plan to exhibit at the Berlin Gallery Weekend in late April.
It feels great when all that remains to be done is to sew on the label and the rug will be ready for delivery! These beautiful tapestries, contrived by French designer Julie Richoz, will all be sent to Munich to adorn the new hotel "Haus im Tal".
Just as behind (almost) every great man, there is a great woman, behind us, there is a great workshop with three great men: Thank you, Tausif, Ausaf and Tanvir! You always make us feel at home – and we are missing the delicious curries you serve us!