“Fellow – Metamorphosis of a Rug” Rethinks a Product’s Life Cycle

05.16.23 | By
“Fellow – Metamorphosis of a Rug” Rethinks a Product’s Life Cycle

Where you might see a collection of colorful rugs, a trio of collaborators sees the chance to establish a more sustainable system by shortening supply routes, extending life, and simplifying processes for a more conscious use of products. “Fellow – Metamorphosis of a Rug,” debuted at at Milan Design Week 2023. Carpet manufacturer Ruckstuhl, designer Stephan Hürlemann, and online media company DAAily platforms together created the exhibition that rethinks the life cycle of a rug.

The trio experimented with improving the eco-balance of products, ultimately trying to answer the question of how the furniture industry can become more sustainable as a whole. The design, production, distribution, use, and trade of a rug were rethought and each Fellow rug was linked to a Non-Fungible Token (NFT), which bundles and digitally maps everything about the product.

grey-green and black circular rug with matching NFT hanging on wall

“Ruckstuhl has been producing carpets from natural fibers since 1881. Sustainability is deeply rooted in our DNA. Nevertheless, we also have to question our established ways, recognize the need for action, and improve. The Fellow Project serves as a roadmap for us. It shows us where we can start,” says Adrian Berchtold, Managing Director of Ruckstuhl.

In order for people to become attached to a Fellow rug and take better care of it, Hürlemann designed each carpet to be one-of-a-kind. His concept is based on a collection of 14 colors and five rectangles as the design elements. Each rectangle consists of one or two colors and neighboring areas of the same color merge with one other. Using these elements, the designer created five worlds reminiscent of city maps or pixel graphics. The results are 75 carpet designs in five formats with different personalities – from colorful to monochrome, from dark to cheerful, from calm to lively. But each Fellow rug is recognizable as part of this created world and related to the others through its building blocks.

olive, yellow, turquoise, and beige rug with matching NFT hanging on wall

The rugs are named using the scientific naming system for animals in Latin as a model, consisting of genus and species. For Fellow, the genus is Tapetum (rug) and the species refers to the world (graphic) from which the carpet originates (fluviale, ordinatum, arvale, viaticum, and urbanum). One example is Fellow Tapetum fluviale.

The individual life story of each unique rug can be traced through an online diary, the “Fellowship Diary.” Adding appreciation to the value of products is also reflected in the newly designed store where used carpets are sold alongside new. To simplify production, and the cleaning and repair of the carpets, each Fellow rug receives an NFT that represents it in the digital world and collects all actions surrounding the carpet. It lives in the owner’s DAAily Wallet as merchandise, a warranty certificate, a certificate of uniqueness, a certificate of ownership, and a key to information and services all in one.

orange and dark grey rug with matching NFT hanging on wall

One of the most important aspects of the Fellow Project is the shortening of delivery routes. To make it happen, Ruckstuhl plans to cooperate with other carpet manufacturers to create a network of production sites. The focus is on decentralizing production at partner manufacturers, who will produce the carpets on demand according to Ruckstuhl’s specifications. The end goal is to create a world with less freight traffic, in which brands with the same values and production methods can network and have their products manufactured locally from regional materials.

pink, seafoam, and dark green rug with matching NFT hanging on wall

beige, pink, red, light blue, and black runner rug with matching NFT hanging on wall

detail of tag on light pink rug

two colorful geometric rugs hanging on a white gallery wall with a light-skinned man standing for a portrait in between them

To learn more about Fellow – Metamorphosis of a Rug, visit

Photography by Stefan Altenburger.

Kelly Beall is Director of Branded Content at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based writer and designer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, from Fashion Plates to MoMA and far beyond. When not searching out the visual arts, she's likely sharing her favorite finds with others. Kelly can also be found tracking down new music, teaching herself to play the ukulele, or on the couch with her three pets – Bebe, Rainey, and Remy. Find her @designcrush on social.