Handloom Innovation

Recently launched handloom collections from a number of international companies are making people re-evaluate their opinions of the medium. Traditionally sourced from India, rugs created on a handloom do not receive a great deal of coverage or praise, regarded by most in the world of high-end handmade rugs as a poor relation to hand-knotted but new work is advancing handloom’s profile,

While setting up the warp can take weeks, most handloom rugs can be completed in 4-6 weeks, well ahead of hand-knotted. The handloom rug has proved to be a useful option for companies who work on fast-paced interior projects, thanks to its shorter production time and potentially lower costs. Canadian firm Creative Matters have specified handloom for high-end retail, residential and hotel suites, like brand’s recent Kimpton Saint George Hotel project in Toronto. For company president and co-founder Carol Sebert the technique makes most sense for ‘multiple pieces or large orders where the price point really makes sense’.

The technique allows for a variety of constructions: flatweave, loop pile or varying lengths of normal pile. Rather than being made knot by knot, the pile is made row by row so designs are restricted to simple geometrics with many brands preferring to use handloom for plain rugs or single-colour textural pieces. Texture and materials are the primary considerations for this technique, which can be beneficial for the right collection.

Driven by texture is the Italian rug brand Battilossi, who recently launched its new handloom collection Fade. Comprising nine designs, Fade is about texture created by colour and will sit alongside a series of 18 samples showing off different handloom techniques. Maurizio Battilossi is keen to point out that these new handloom designs made in hand-spun Tibetan wool, silk and linen are not a cheap product and differ to what is already on the market. He first developed a series of hand-knotted designs and showed them to the Indian weavers in Kathmandu. The R&D person then spent 7-8 months working out how to translate the designs into handloom.

Also producing handloom in Nepal is Milanese brand cc-tapis, who launched the Metroquadro collection in September 2017. As art director Daniele Lora explains, the range was developed ‘with contract projects in mind, offering interior designers and architects a more manageable high-quality bespoke product’. Wishing to keep faithful to its production in Nepal, cc-tapis imported Indian looms to the country. The same hand-spun, hand-dyed wool as in the hand-knotted rugs is used alongside linen, silk and bamboo silk.

UK designer Tania Johnson’s handloom designs are also made in Nepal and launched this year. For her, the loomed rugs take half the time and are around a third of the price of hand-knotted depending on the design: ‘I wanted to give my customers different options, simple coordinates to work alongside the hand-knotted designs,’ she says. 

As it becomes increasingly necessary for rug firms to have a variety of weaving options to offer clients, handloom can be a great way of providing handmade goods at lower price point and with faster lead times.