Rug designer Sonya Winner, opens showroom in Dartmouth Park

Sonya Winner with her Albers rug

Sonya Winner with her Albers rug - Credit: Archant

Emma Rice talks to rug designer Sonya Winner about her passion for colour and her new inspirational showroom in Dartmouth Park

Sonya Winner fusing colours

Sonya Winner fusing colours - Credit: Archant

The French painter, Pierre Bonnard, once said, ‘Colour does not add a pleasant quality to design - it reinforces it.”

It’s certainly true of the vivid and bold rugs designed by Sonya Winner, who has opened her first showroom in Dartmouth Park.

Yet it’s more of an inspirational experience, than a mere ‘showroom’. You are catapulted into pops of colour as soon as you feast your eyes on Sonya’s award winning rugs, alongside curated exhibitions of handmade works of craft glass, ceramics and wood.

Sonya’s passion for colour means she not only creates transformational rugs which can bring a room to life, but pieces of art that enhance people’s lives.

Colourful Dartmouth Park showroom

Colourful Dartmouth Park showroom - Credit: Archant

“It’s scientifically proven that colour changes your mood,” says Sonya, “adding colour to a room adds tension, excitement, interest and it makes you feel happy. I love the way colours mix and overlap and how light penetrates it.”

Sonya uses around 6,000 colour tufts as a base for her designs.

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“I love to fuse colours together and overlay, and collage. Sometimes I play around with tissue paper. I never work directly with computers, I like to see how the colour looks in the light.”

Sonya is currently designing a new collection using nail polishes, exploring liquid patterns.

The studio in York Rise

The studio in York Rise - Credit: Archant

“All of our products are handmade by artisans in a small community in India, who come from generations of weavers.”

Sonya promotes GoodWeave, an organisation that works to end child labour in the carpet industry.

“Rugs are amazing objects,” she says, “the design possibilities are limitless. As I have a graphics background, I design rugs with strange shapes. Textile designers tend to work with repeat patterns but mine are likened to art pieces and are inspired by my favourite artists such as Matisse or Albers.”

But Sonya’s rugs also have a practical role.

Transformational rugs

Transformational rugs - Credit: Archant

“Rugs will change the acoustics of a room,” she says, “making it very cosy. Modern design in homes now is all about wood, cement and stone, so they can be quite echoey and don’t feel cosy. The rugs I design are generally a lot thicker, so they absorb the sound, they are like acoustic panels. They also work well in traditional homes.”

Sonya’s ‘rug bug’ as she calls it, began in 2007 when she was one of 40 people in the art world to be invited by the Aram store in Covent Garden to design a rug as part of the store’s 40th anniversary.

“I really loved the process,” says Sonya, “the way a little sketch on A4 paper can translate into a rug which can transform a room.”

A graphic designer by trade, who ran her own business designing logos and packaging for 15 years, Sonya says that now she loves the fact that she can work on her own products.

Pops of colour

Pops of colour - Credit: Archant

She really got into designing rugs after breaking her back in a horse accident.

“I was a photographer at the time but couldn’t carry on due to my injuries, so I decided to pursue my rug bug. They say out of something bad comes good and I tell people I got into rugs by accident. I saw it as a new opportunity and it’s become a love.”

Sonya tells me it’s also the realisation of a dream for her to create a space in Dartmouth Park where customers, interior designers or anyone just passing can come in and be inspired.

Sonya’s showroom has been designed by Stella Doutme, senior architect at Zaha Hadid Architects (responsible for Zaha’s first residential building on The Highline New York).

“We want people to come to our showroom and be inspired and see something crafted and beautiful,” says Sonya.

“It’s not a high selling environment. We have a kitchen and people can come in and have a drink and share a cheeseboard with us.”

The opening exhibition currently running until July 1 is “Exploring Transparency” featuring the work of talented young experimental glass artist Tim Rawlinson from London Glassblowing (and exhibited at Collect) alongside up and coming jewellery designer Sarah Straussberg.

Sonya’s brilliantly coloured rugs can be viewed and experienced in room settings, including two new limited edition rug designs inspired by Tim Rawlinson’s Echoes of Light series.

For more information visit, Call 0203 283 8776, or email

Sonya Winner Rug Studio

14 York Rise, NW5 1ST