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Watch Jessica Poundstone’s Work in Progress Rugs Comes to Life

01.11.22 | By
Watch Jessica Poundstone’s Work in Progress Rugs Comes to Life
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Work in Progress is a queer-owned and operated Los Angeles-based design collective, part of Denvir Enterprises, a queer-owned, multi-line agency. Work in Progress (WIP) has plans to partner with a diverse group of artists, designers, makers, and manufacturers to deliver really cool, sustainable goods. First up is a collection of flat-weave cotton rugs with graphic patterns designed by Portland-based artists, Jessica Poundstone. The first two designs – Rug One and Rug Two – feature geometric prints in vibrant colorways. The rugs are handwoven from natural materials through Nomadory, a woman- and minority-owned business in San Francisco that ethically sources small artisans. To produce this collection, they partnered with a third-generation, family-owned business in Bhadohi, India. In this month’s Deconstruction, learn more as Work in Progress takes us along to see the process of creating their inaugural rug collection.

Designs for the WIP rugs were based on several of the pieces in Jessica Poundstone’s Color Ideas series. In the design of these rugs, Jessica is “doing one of my favorite things: letting my thoughts turn into color relationships and patterns that serve to remind me (and maybe you too!) of an idea that’s worth remembering.”

Here is the progression, shown via live video recording on Procreate, beginning with the making of ‘Color Ideas 49: Thinking About Right Now….’

Jessica’s design started out with simple stripes. Then, layering stripes vertically, she set each layer to the “multiply” mode, so color intensity would increase with each layer. Next, Jessica widened the stripes and played with color, replicating/narrowing/elongating and mirroring the pattern. She then selected one section of the more complex pattern and adjusted the color further for a warmer tone. This particular version ended up being ‘Color Ideas 52: Thinking About Night’ (flipped vertically). By continuing to play with the colors, she created a more vivid palate. She then selected and compressed a section of the design, replicating and mirroring the section to create a new design. While still playing with color, she created a new design made from the complex repeat. Jessica then cropped one section of the repeat design to create a simplified horizontal pattern before achieving the final color palette for the rug.

vibrant rug pattern in block colors

The final design, ready to go into production!

Akta of Nomadory

Akta of Nomadory

We know our manufacturer Nomadory because we represent them through our other business, Denvir Enterprises. We had been pitching the benefits of working with them to clients in the design industry for months, so it made perfect sense to partner with them. Their entire business is about enabling brands to find, source and produce goods with pre-vetted suppliers in India and Africa, so you can dive into the work of production rather than spending time searching for the right manufacturer. Our debut collection is being produced by a manufacturer that was established in 1979. This supplier is a family-owned group of third generation creators of hand-made and hand-knotted rugs and carpets. They are committed to eradicating child labor in the rug industry. Every rug made by this group carries a certificate of authenticity, free of child labor with complete transparency from fiber to weave.

dyed yarn hanging above pools of liquid dye

The first step in manufacturing our rugs was yarn sourcing. Yarn is purchased through accredited suppliers based in Bikaner, Hathras, and Panipat. Each of the yarns are mill-spun to ensure durability and quality. Once the mill-spun yarns are sourced, they are hand-spun at the centralized facility in Bhadohi, Uttar Pradesh.

Next, the yarns are dyed to match the Pantone colors chosen by Jessica. The dyeing process is carried out at local facility approximately less than a mile away from the manufacturer’s main location. From there, they are spun and dried.

dyed yarn drying on clothesline

After the yarn is dyed, it is kept out in the sun. It takes around 5-6 hours to let the yarn dry properly.

Freshly dyed yarns for one 2’x3′ sample of Rug One in Peach.

Person weaving a rug

Once the yarns are ready, looms are set up and the weaving process begins. For each rug size, a specific loom is created using a combination of wood and metal rods. This is the main workstation for the weavers. Each rug design is printed on an A4 sized paper – the weavers use this print out to guide their process! All of the measurements are done by eye; there are no rulers or templates used. This speaks to each weaver’s level of craftsmanship and expertise. This collection of rugs is woven in a flat weave technique more commonly known as ‘pit loom dhurries.’ This is usually done by the weavers at their homes, which are located in a village named Chunar, which is about 25 miles away from the main facility.

Once the rug is completely woven, it is taken off the loom and washed. This is conducted at the central facility to ensure proper waste disposal and quality checks. The workers then review each individual rug, trimming when needed, and ensuring that all of the edges are secure.

PERSON IN OVERALLS KNEALING ON TOP OF BRIGHT RUG

Founder of Work in Progress, Emma Holland Denvir, inspecting a prototype of Rug Two, Wild Cherry, 4’x6′, in the brand’s LA-based headquarters.

rug with vibrant linear pattern and color blocking

Photo: Ye Rin Mok

A silo shot of the finished product: Rug One, Peach in 2’x3.’

Rug One, Peach

Rug One, Blueberry

Work in progress’ Rug Two in Wild Cherry shot at the Second Home co-working space in Hollywood, California. Second Home is a B-corp dedicated to creating a healthy work environment with community oriented programming, which made it the perfect spot for a WIP photoshoot.

Rug Two, Wild Cherry

Rug Two, Wild Cherry

Rug Two, Wild Cherry

Rug Two, Avocado

Rug Two, Cherry

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.