Designer Rugs: Anna Carin
Collection Feature
Sydney, NSW, Australia

Words Rose Onans
Photography Justin Alexander

Scandinavian-born interior designer Anna Carin’s collection with Designer Rugs is inspired by her childhood in rural Sweden, in the spirit of traditional rug design which draws on poetry, narrative and history.

As an interior designer, Anna Carin is accustomed to creating spaces, but designing the individual objects that form part of the interior is not usually part of this process. That all changed when she designed her first collection with Designer Rugs, in a flurry of creativity over the short period of one month. In the spirit of traditional rug design, which depicts poetry, mythology, narratives and history, Anna was overcome with inspiration from her childhood in a small Swedish village, drawing on the colours, textures and stories from this rural childhood idyll. She describes the process as ‘downloading’ the designs from her mind onto paper as inspiration struck and memories rushed back, interpreted in the form of unique rugs. The result is a collection that is subtle yet powerful, in delicate colours and neutral tones that complement her interiors’ Scandinavian style.

‘Straw’ by Anna Carin. Inspired by nature, the subtle tones and pattern complement the interior.

Designing high-end interiors, Anna often used Designer Rugs in her spaces. When the chance arrived to collaborate on her own collection, she was guided by the work of her mentor, Austrian architect Joseph Frank, who believed that rugs should evoke solid ground and the colours of nature – snow white, earth brown, green shoots.  ‘Colours in nature never clash’, she explains in a light Swedish accent. While a multitude of colours is found in nature, the tones harmoniously complement each other, rather than competing.

‘Fence’, inspired by the fences created by Anna’s father in rural Sweden.

Though she is not opposed to colour, Anna’s interior design experience means she understands that a rug with too much pattern and colour can be visually distracting, and can compete with artwork and other visual elements within the room. ‘For me’, she says ‘a rug should be a solid ground beneath the feet and be a calming presence, especially in rooms where one spends a lot of time’. This means that placement is key – a living space is the perfect example of a room where a calm, grounding presence for a rug is especially necessary, whereas a more transitory space, such as a hallway or entrance can be a place where the interior can become more playful or adventurous.

Wild Berry by Anna Carin is a playful, adventurous design that introduces colour without overpowering other elements of the space. And ‘Nest’ by Anna Carin, inspired by the nests of the hens in her childhood farm’s barn.

The Designer Rugs collection features designs that suit the former – calming and subtle, yet with a sophisticated use of pattern that demonstrates the calibre of the collection. Each rug tells a story inspired by Anna’s childhood, however, the story has been distilled down to the abstract essence of the story’s meaning, so as to no longer be obvious. Yet despite the elegant abstract design, the personal depth of meaning shines through, and it is clear that each design is more than mere pattern. In fact, Anna recalls that on seeing her first sketches for the collection, Yosi Tal, managing director of Designer Rugs exclaimed ‘you haven’t designed it – you’ve lived it!’.

‘Nest’ used in the front room of a classic terrace house, where it provides a subtle grounding presence and reflection of the interior’s colour palette and proportions. Photo by Justin Alexander.

Since the collection was released, Anna has used the rugs in several of her projects with Anna Carin Design. In some cases, the rugs have been custom-coloured to suit the palette of the interior, in others, created to a custom size to work with the space (‘There’s nothing worse than a skimpy rug!’ she says). In the unusual position of having designed the rugs as well as the spaces, she has a rare perspective on the designs in a practical sense, as a holistic part of an interior, not just as stand-alone designs. Since using the collection in her interiors, she has found herself drawn to certain rugs, in particular those that are especially subtle, complementing a variety of interiors. ‘Pike’, inspired by water and the fish Anna’s father would catch from the nearby stream when she was a child, was used in a Roseville interior designed for a cellist in the Sydney Symphony orchestra. Situated in the ‘quiet room’, where no TV or devices provide distractions, the rug’s soft colours and the fish scale-like repeated rhythmic patterns are a calming and creatively inspiring presence. The design was used again in a contemporary Barangaroo waterfront apartment, where the aquatic inspiration was clearly relevant. Here, the design contributes making the apartment a retreat from the urban environment for the clients, an elderly couple. Then, in the Anna Carin Design office a re-coloured version ‘Pike’ in warmer gold and cream tones can be found, photographed as an in-situ example of the custom colouration to be shown to the client. While the colours and requirements of the space vary from project to project, the design is remarkably versatile, lending its restful, natural presence to a variety of spaces.

Pike’s calming aquatic aesthetic is perfect for a waterfront Barangaroo apartment, designed to be a calming retreat. Photo by Justin Alexander. And ‘Pike’ used in a bedroom, where it is restful while complementing the interior’s colour and adding visual interest to the space.

Another design that Anna finds herself drawn to is ‘Nest’. Unlike Pike’s flowing pattern and softly graduated colour, ‘Nest’ is more structured but is still an understated design. Used in the front room of a classic terrace house, Anna says it suited the room’s more traditional proportions, with the repeated round shapes subtly reflecting the round pendant light featured in the centre of the room. Since designing her first collection, Anna says she continues to be drawn to exploring her heritage through design, and looks forward to using the Norse myths and history as the basis for new designs for her next collection with Designer Rugs. Her approach is a testament to the continued relevance of the tradition of storytelling through rug design, and to Anna herself as an inspirational designer, as seen in her unique rugs.

‘Pike’, custom coloured in warmer cream and gold tones, in the Anna Carin Design office. Photo by Justin Alexander.

Published 13 December, 2017
Photography  Justin Alexander
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