In the first of a new series of regular COVER posts with a focus on new designers, we speak to the French weaver, Olivia Babel who set up her handmade rug brand in 2015, having studied textile design at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, France. Her plant inspired pieces reveal her passion for the natural world and are a commentary on the state of our ecosystem.
Here she introduces COVER to her practice and sources of inspiration:
My tapestries are enlargements of my embroideries. In them, I interpret the french knot stitch with the loop weave technique. I create them entirely by hand, in one piece, to order. I also hand-dye the wool that I use. I work on old looms, or on wooden frames made to measure, with a particular tapestry in mind.
I have always been inspired by organic and natural things. It was after undertaking various trips to Africa and the Caribbean that I really discovered a passion for plants, natural landscapes and topography. I like to attempt to capture the essence of living things and to relay the energy that I feel is released by plants. I like their shapes, their smells and their aesthetic potential. For me, plants are a metaphor for life. They bring positivity to my home and creativity to my studio, providing structure and energising the space. My living room is filled with yuccas, palm trees and cactus. Visiting gardens and parks is one of my favourite activities, but above all, I like to see plants in nature.
I try to enhance and refine wild vegetation by translating them into embroidered and woven form. I experiment with the effects of reducing the vast scale of landscapes to stitches. Through these processes, I’m exploring wilderness; that is what fascinates me.
In April I am relocating to a larger studio in the centre of Lyon, where I will continue working on several tapestries commissioned for a hotel in Senegal, as well as on projects with local interior designers.
Find more of Olivia Babel’s work on Instagram @oliviababel