Swedish rug maker Henzel is branching out into ever more exclusive territory with the debut of its first art editions. Calle Henzel set up his factory in 1999, transitioning his fine art approach into the age old craft of the weaver, reinventing rug making and bringing new approaches, materials and techniques to the industry. For this year's Salone del Mobile in Milan, the Henzel Studio has taken the art of rug design a step further with a selection of high profile collaborations.
Debuting with works by Helmut Lang and Anselm Reyle in Milan, the collection will soon be augmented with designs by Linder, Marilyn Minter, Jack Pierson, Richard Prince, Juergen Teller and Mickalene Thomas.
There are many ways to make a rug. Given the vast technical parameters available, the brief was essentially totally open; the artists could do what they liked, whether it was using existing artworks as the basis for their piece, or starting from scratch and letting the material and process help shape their vision.
Making a rug is not a mass production process, and each piece will be made to order in Nepal, with variations of shape and form between each edition. Ranging in price from $16,000 to $20,000 (although of course you can spec the rug to your precise requirements), a typical piece takes around seven months of handiwork.
Both Lang and Reyle have used their pieces to create floor-sized trompe l'oeil, each exploring different aspects of the rug making process - pile heights, shape, material composition and finishings - to create utterly distinctive pieces of work that are far too good to ever walk on. Lang's 'Untitled 2013' is based on his ongoing sculpture series, the medium he's favoured since stepping back from fashion. Resembling a carbon-rich sliver of rock, apparently carved out of the ground, it's woven from Himalayan wool and silk, the surface distinguished by different pile heights and shimmering variations in the material.
Anselm Reyle's rug, 'Untitled 2012', references the German artist's foil paintings: cased compositions of brightly shining foil. Translating these three dimensional forms into a flat surface has been achieved with a mix of silk and white wool, allowing the folds in the metallic surface to shine and shimmer.
Henzel's strong social and environmental ethic has underpinned the company from the outset, and all the rugs in the series will be made using responsibly sourced materials in workshops overseen by the independent trade body GoodWeave. Henzel's curation has opened up another milieu to a group of well-established, highly inventive artists, giving them the technical support to explore how their aesthetic translates into another medium, whether it's Scott Campbell's one dollar bill, Linder's punk ethos or the painterly surfaces of Richard Prince and Robert Knoke.