The team at premier rug brand Christopher Farr spotted the work of Spanish textile designer Irene Infantes at her graduate show at Central Saint Martins back in 2016. This month Farr and Infantes have released a collection of four rugs, based on the young designer’s textile work ‘The social life of a material’. The bold contemporary designs, made in India and Afghanistan, play subtly with a range of textures and materials. Here Infantes talks to COVER about the designs and her new relationship with rugs.
What inspires your textile work?
I find inspiration in almost everything, as I believe it’s not a thing but the way you look at it. However, I feel passionate about heritage, ancestry and symbolism—even if my art and design have a digital look, is always hand processed first and there is always a story behind, a time in history etc.
I usually get inspired by the past rather than the future, ‘You are because you were’. I think my Spanish heritage plays an important part as well, I am from Seville, southern Spain where its sunny most of the time and the streets are full of lemon and orange trees, the smells are intense and we perceive the colours bright.
How easy was it to transfer your ideas to rugs?
It was pretty easy as Christopher gave me total freedom to create and when the final designs were selected, the team was there to help me and guide me. Hector Coombs who was very patient with me when explaining processes, materials, textures…
How was it to work on a flat surface rather than in built-up layers?
Well, it was different from when I prepare images for screen printing but wasn’t something new for me. I really enjoyed the whole process.
What new aesthetics or ideas do the rugs bring to your designs?
It adds materials and rich textures. I have been working with wool for the last two years as I am very interested in the fibre itself, but when choosing materials for Seville rug, which we decided to be 100 % silk, it was so rewarding to see the outcomes on the first samples. It really opened a new path for me in terms of materials versatility, as well as making me open up my colour palette.
How would you describe the rug collection in three words?
Optimist. Bold. Rich.
What does the title of your textile collection ‘The social life of a material’ mean?
The inspiration for those shapes and colours comes from little things I was finding on my path when walking around different cities. I started taking photos of them and collecting the most interesting ones to draw and paint from them. I like to look at the romantic side of things so I tried to imagine the personal journey of those little objects and how and why they interacted on my own path. So that’s why I thought of ’the social life of a material’ as a title, as well as not forgetting the importance of a little sense of humour always.
Has your appreciation of rugs increased since making the collection? Has it inspired you?
It definitely has. I always liked the rug industry and Christopher Farr was a model for me as I know how connected the brand is with the world of art and not just design. My appreciation for rugs has absolutely increased—the edges, weight, softness or kind of knot are something I like to look at now.
It has inspired me to keep working on a big scale, believe even more in the importance of the handmade. It made me discover a new path that I’d love to follow, I wish I could design rugs forever! It has been amazing and I’m so glad I got to have this opportunity.
Will you be working with rugs again?
I hope so, as well I am very interested in rug artisans’ communities around the globe, like the ones in Peru or Morocco. I have in the back of my mind a project that I’d love to develop when the time comes.
What new projects are you working on?
I’m focused now on a project about a limited edition of large-scale wall hanging/throws that will launch next September. Also, I’m working on new pieces of my series ‘Envoltorios’ that investigates the memory of paper and fabric, about how much a wrinkle can tell about the past of both materials, for my first solo exhibition next October in Seville.