West Hampstead rugs add splashes of colour to homes around the world
- Credit: Archant
West Hampstead rug designer Sonya Winner came to the profession quite literally by accident.
The former graphic designer and photographer broke her back and wrist falling off a horse and was unable to continue working as a photographer. A rug she had made as a one off was shortlisted for an Elle Decoration award and received a lot of attention so, after a year of recuperation, she set up a business designing and selling her original designs.
The launch at Tent London in 2011 was an overnight success with her website receiving over 450,000 hits following the exhibition and Winner’s rugs now adorn homes in 25 countries around the world.
Winner says that the vibrant colours and unusual shapes of the pieces are often used differently according to national interior design tastes.
“Some people have very neutral, white layouts and the rug really bursts out of it – this tends to be the case in the English market where people just want a splash of colour,” she explains. “On the other hand Americans especially have very colourful houses and just want to add more.”
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Colour is crucial in Winner’s work, so much so that she goes to great lengths to ensure that the shades she uses work perfectly with each other.
“I work across three different colour systems, which is very unusual in rugs. I go to a lot of trouble to get the colours to work brilliantly with each other.”
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The rugs are made from New Zealand wool in India and Nepal and Winner promotes GoodWeave, an organisation that works to end child labour in the carpet industry and to offer educational opportunities to children in South Asia.
Many of the rugs have free form shapes that challenge people’s expectations of the way they can be used.
They often have asymmetric outlines, which change as they are turned, giving new perspectives from different angles.
Winner’s pieces tread the line between art and utility: they are designed to be used rather than hung on the wall, yet Winner approaches their design with an artistic approach.
“I’m really into mark-making, where you use your hand to draw things, never the computer, to get that brain-hand connection. That’s what makes works by Matisse and Picasso so beautiful, it really captures the emotions.
“The business is based on being slightly maverick really, we don’t do collections as such, just things I really like. I love art and I love seeing what’s going on in the art world, it’s a big influence for me.”