‘The idea behind the Transcendence prayer carpet is in transcending the boundaries of religion through spirituality and design,’ says Nada Debs. Based in Beirut, her studio’s strapline is ‘handmade and heart made’, a concept she has expanded to explore what Debs describes as ‘new materialism’. The phrase refers to the ‘souls, stories and meaning’ of objects, and includes the goals of sustainability and transparent short supply chains focused on local materials (in this case Afghan sheep wool and local vegetable-based dyes).
The collection was created in collaboration with Zuleya—a carpet weaving social enterprise of The Fatima Bint Mohamed Bin Zayed Initiative (FBMI). Women comprise more than 70% of the 6,000 Afghan artisans employed by FBMI of which 35% are widows. Zuleya and similar FBMI initiatives provide these women with a critical path to financial stability while the ripple effect from their employment spreads to empower other members of their communities.
The small size of the Transcendence meditation carpet mirrors those of traditional prayer rugs, but instead of a rectangular format the rug is domed on one end, a feature that can be read as the prayer niche or arch-shaped mihrab of traditional prayer rugs. The design features an enfilade of receding domed arches where an illusion of depth is accentuated by alternating pile heights. The arches reference secular and non-secular architecture of multiple cultures across the centuries. ‘Every person regardless of faith is united when seated on this spiritual carpet,’ says a Zuleya representative.
Available as a single design in four colourways (navy blue and beige; black and grey; maroon and red; green and coral), each hand-knotted rug is rolled and placed in a limited-edition bespoke wooden box that can be customised with the name of the recipient. ‘Choose the rug that reflects your soul,’ advises Zuleya who suggests the green colourway for those who love nature and strive for harmony and balance; the red colourway for love, and the blue and beige combination for those who crave safety and security.
The ultimate goal of the Transcendence carpets is to ‘spark a dialogue on the interconnectedness of faith’. The rug can be a physical starting point for a ‘meditative journey’, while the Studio Nada Debs and Zuleya collaboration symbolises how ‘craft custodians’ can unite people across cultures, religions and geographic boundaries.