Designer Rugs: Dinosaur Designs Collection
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Iconic Australian design duo Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy of Dinosaur Designs collaborated with Designer Rugs on several collections that translate the unique style of their three-dimensional resin works into vibrant rug designs.
Work by Dinosaur Designs is instantly recognisable – vibrant, organic and utterly tactile, the objects are pieces of art that invite touch. Crafted by hand in resin and precious metals, the three-dimensional forms are sculptural and strikingly graphic. When Designer Rugs approached Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy, Creative Directors of Dinosaur Designs, to design a rug collection, the exciting challenge was translating Dinosaur Designs’ unique visual language into two-dimensional form.
The designs for the first collection began with interpreting the graphic shapes created by several pieces of jewellery, explains Stephen. The relationships between the pieces, the negative space and the colours, provided the seeds of those first designs. ‘We realised there were graphic opportunities in our existing work’, he says, ‘and this began the two-dimensional visual language for Dinosaur [Designs].’
This origin in the three-dimensional objects is acutely visible in the rugs. Like the jewellery, the colour palettes are deep, rich and juxtaposed in unexpected ways, seeming almost to quiver with life. The use of colour cannot be simplistically described a ‘bright’ or ‘bold’, however, as neutrals and darker shades are used just as effectively as the vibrant colours, and with just as much intensity.
‘Lava’ dynamically combines colours in hot tones – a vibrant red, clementine orange and cerise tinged with dark magenta – with a calm green and restrained grey. No colour jostles for attention, rather the green swims through them, simultaneously connecting each shape and colour while functioning as negative space between them.
‘Sticks’, in contrast, uses black shapes reminiscent of trunks or standing stones on a simple background of soft grey that tinges more yellow than blue. The design is none the less striking for its simplicity, with a sense of momentum that is reinforced by the uncomplicated colour palette. Another design that uses predominantly muted tones is ‘Skipping Stones’, however, the result is entirely different. Here, the colours and shapes touch and intersect, a bright splash of red encroaching in from the edge onto the dark. The red disrupts but also serves to strengthen the impression of the neutral tones elsewhere, creating a design that is dynamic and engaging.
Every design in the collection uses colour and shape in individual ways, due in part to a strong editing process of the designs. Louise, Stephen and Yosi Tal, Managing Director of Designer Rugs, considered each design in the context of the others, committing to choosing to stronger of two designs that were similar.
Just as with Dinosaur Designs’ resin and metal work, the rugs’ materials are similarly tactile. Hand-tufted 100% New Zealand wool with felted yarn creates a beautiful texture both visually and to the touch. ‘Using the highest quality materials was extremely important to us, which is why we were so happy to work with Designer Rugs’ says Louise.
The textural quality of the wool is especially evident in designs such as ‘Carve’, which uses large planes of colour, contrasting cream and soft brown with a red that is slightly earthy, tonally consistent with the natural colour palette. The pile of the wool contributes to the depth of the red, adding variation in tone and texture to the design.
The collaboration with Designer Rugs was Stephen and Louise’s first foray into rug design, but creating Dinosaur Designs homewares meant that they were familiar with thinking about the relationships between objects and space. It has been over twelve years since the first collection, meaning that they have had the opportunity to see the rugs in a variety of different interiors. A rug can change enormously depending on the space it is in, the space and other objects in the interior giving the design a new context, enhancing certain shapes or bringing out certain tones. This has provided inspiration for other designs, triggering an idea that gives birth to a new design. With new designs building on the first one, a thread of continuity and harmony is created between the collections, both visually and conceptually.
Both Louise and Stephen are artists, indeed they met at art school, and as artists not industrial designers, their designs have a very different quality. For Louise, ‘I think it means our work has that human touch’. They approach all their work, rug, jewellery, bowl or painting, as artwork. ‘The creative spirit of being an artist isn’t restricted to one thing’, she says, ‘Picasso made jewellery’. ‘Art in all its forms enlivens, it evokes a response’, says Stephen. Louise describes it as ‘like what a piece of music does to you – it gives you a “lift”’.
The objects, therefore, transcend their utility and mean their process of design is exceptionally creative and collaborative. Since the first collection, when they worked with cropping the graphic shapes made by pieces of jewellery, the process of designing the rugs has come to more closely mirror their practice of designing the three-dimensional resin pieces. Working individually in their sketchbooks, Stephen and Louise will then bring their ideas together. This process, Louise says, can mean being quite critical, but is a productive dynamic, essential to refining the designs that are eventually made. ‘You have rigorous’, says Stephen, ‘and constantly questioning, pushing the boundaries’.
Bringing this artistic approach to their collections with Designer Rugs has resulted in rugs that stand out in any space, evoking that enlivening response one feels when moved by an artwork. In the twelve years since the first collection, the designs remain vibrant and engaging and form part of a continuing design conversation. From three-dimensional pieces in resin to wool rugs, the medium may have changed dramatically, but they remain characteristically Dinosaur Designs.
Photographed by Pablo Veiga.
View and purchase the Dinosaur Designs Collection from the Designer Rugs online store.