Feature Article

bernabeifreeman’s New Collection With Designer Rugs Is a Geometric Interpretation Of The Landscape

Sydney, NSW, Australia

Over the centuries, the landscape has been a deep source of inspiration for artists and designers, now, landscape imagery has inspired celebrated Australian design duo bernabeifreeman in their new collection with Designer Rugs.

bernabeifreeman’s strong sense of geometry and materiality, combined with the emphasis on abstracted natural motifs, results in a collection that is contemporary yet timeless, intricately layering colour and texture.

‘Spring’ from the new collection, shot by Richard Whitbread in the Own World showroom.

Rina Bernabei and Kelly Freeman, the duo behind bernabeifreeman, have a background in industrial design, but, says Rina, ‘We have always had a tendency towards textiles and the way they have been traditionally used in the interior’. The pair are known for their modern interpretation on craft and decoration, and at the time they began working with Designer Rugs on the collection had been primarily working with sheetmetal. ‘The decorative qualities of our work were well suited to be adapted to rug and textile design’ says Rina, and their love of interiors and textiles made it a natural fit.

‘Ocean’, one of the unusually-shaped designs in the collection, shot by Richard Whitbread in the Own World showroom.

The new collection consists of four designs, ‘Ocean’, ‘Plateau’, ‘Crossing’ and ‘Spring’, created in hand-tufted wool. bernabeifreeman worked closely with Designer Rugs in-house expert Christine McDonald, to achieve a very European feel to the rugs through the defined colour palette. ‘We felt what was needed in the interior design scene was strong colours – strong tones of colours, but pared back. For example, in Crossing the shades of nudes, with pinks and grey. These are very European rugs and they will appeal to people who like the lift of light and colour in a room. There are lots of different gradients and shades of colour in this collection and a bit like a complex landscape, there are up to eighteen shades of colours in some of the designs,’ says Rina.

‘Crossing’, a design in the collection that uses ‘stippling’ – tufting with several different coloured yarns at once.

The designs are not only exceptional for their highly focused and poignant use of colour, but for the emphasis on geometry – both in pattern and in the shape of the rugs themselves. As the rugs are hand-tufted, the designers were able to experiment with different shapes without running into any manufacturing hurdles. ‘We went for the rounded rectangles as we felt it really suited our ocean rug and added to the tidal inspiration as well as being an easy to adapt shape for the interior’, says Rina. They interpreted the landscape inspiration, working from photographs by the likes of Brooke Holmes ‘always through a clean geometric grid-like approach’, she explains.

‘Plateau’, shot by Richard Whitbread in the Own World showroom.

Thus, a design like ‘Plateau’ captures the essence of layers found in nature, a geologic cross-section, the rings of a tree, and translates them into zones defined by colour and the height of the pile. ‘Ocean’, the other rounded form in the collection, is reminiscent of layers of watercolour paint, with hand-carved lines strongly delineating sections and stippling (tufting of several different yarns at once) creating subtle colour variation. The final two designs in the collection both intricately layer lines and zones of colour, creating a great sense of depth to each design. ‘Spring’ also uses varied pile height to create not only textural variation and a three-dimensional quality to the design, but to highlight graphic subtly varied stripe pattern.

‘Crossing’, shot by Richard Whitbread in the Own World showroom.

These effects are all made possible by the natural wool fibre from which the rugs are crafted, and which was itself a source of inspiration for bernabeifreeman. ‘We tend to always start with the materials and processes we are designing in. And we aim to express the qualities of these materials as best we can.’ says Rina. ‘We also aim to connect people to products through a narrative or emotional trigger, with the idea being that if we can make this connection the product will stay in people’s lives for a longer time – maybe generations…..an emotional sustainability.’ The wool’s textural versatility, capable of being soft and tactile or firm and geometric, as well as the many weaving techniques available in the hand knot process, are deftly utilised in the designs to capture all aspects of the landscapes that inspired the collection.

‘Spring’, this overhead image highlighting the geometric lines and layered colour.

Working with every element at the designers’ disposal – form, colour, texture, pattern and materiality – to its full capacity, each of the four rugs in the new collection is incredibly strong. The carefully considered and geometric approach to interpreting the organic, changeable landscape inspiration captures a beautiful tension that results in a highly contemporary yet timeless collection.

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