Afghan rug designs have remained largely unchanged since the 19th century, yet years of war and isolation have left Afghans utterly lacking the facilities to produce them - not to mention totally out of touch with changing market trends.
AfghanMade Carpets was set up in 2006 by the American Task Force for Business Stability Operations to help develop the country's indigenous industries and is slowly bringing the country up to speed with contemporary production techniques. This year representatives from AfghanMade Carpets flew over with a portfolio of contemporary designs and a delegation of European and American carpet brands for a project that culminates this week.
The project challenged local craftsmen to reproduce lines, shapes and concepts completely new to them. The concept so appealed to us that when AfghanMade Carpets approached Wallpaper* to be part of the exhibition showcasing the results, presented at Designjunction this week as part of the the London Design Festival, we jumped at the chance.
The exhibition unveils the finest carpets to emerge from the Afghan looms. Aside from curating and designing the sculptural wooden display forms, Wallpaper* also commissioned a rug of our own, working with Christopher Farr and the Danish-Italian design duo GamFratesi. The collaborative piece, called 'Platonism' and inspired by Plato's insistence on the existence of abstract objects, will be displayed alongside two rugs produced for the exhibition under the Christopher Farr label.
Other works include a modular design by Giulio Iacchetti for Nodus; an ABC Italia design by Giacomo Barzaghi; a Martí Guixé design for Nanimarquina; and Fort Street Studio's collaborations with Brad Davis and Janis Provisor.
Meanwhile AfghanMade Carpets has already provided two washing facilities for carpetmakers in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif and the Afghan Ministry of Commerce and Industry is working to establish a chemical factory in Kabul to provide makers with new ingredients. The aim is to allow the country to be independent in all stages of production and export.