The Journeyman Collection by MR.FRÄG | Collection FeatureSydney, NSW, Australia
Inspired by traditional joinery and craftmanship, industrial design studio Mr Frag’s collaboration with Designer Rugs is a tactile, abstract rendition of the forms created by woodworking joinery as a symbol of quality.
The Journeyman Collection is the first collaboration between renowned rug makers Designer Rugs and industrial design studio Mr Frag. The collection draws inspiration from the traditional craftsmanship of joinery, reimagining the angular shapes created by woodworking joints into a strikingly abstract collection of rugs that visualises the relationship between rug and joinery.
The task of moving from three-dimensional industrial design to two-dimensional designs for rugs was initially daunting for Frag Woodall, the designer behind Mr Frag. Once the realisation dawned, though, that the key elements of designing three-dimensional furniture or lighting were the same for creating a rug, the process began to flow. ‘My work often has as focus on materiality and tactile engagement’, says Frag, so this approach has a ‘natural application’ when working with rug textiles.
The ethos behind all of Mr Frag’s work is on functional honesty, material integrity and ‘a sense of poetry, wit or humour which communicates and connects on a human level’. This approach to materials results in rugs whose texture is a fundamental element of the design. The rugs are hand-tufted with lustrous bamboo used in highlights, contrasted with mattifying loop pile textures. Varying pile heights cast shadows, reinforcing the strong lines of each design and adding another dimension while also creating tactile variation.
The texture is not the only important aspect of The Journeyman Collection – the four designs have an intentionality that recalls technical drawing, coupled with an abstract quality that is reminiscent of the work of M.C. Escher. To create these unique designs, Frag harked back to some of his earliest memories of the fascination he felt when discovering timber joining techniques. ‘In a creative capacity I was first captivated by the intricacy and precision of joinery as a furniture craftsman’ he recalls. ‘The very first book I got as an apprentice had illustrative drawings of various joints, and a memory of this joint detail has stayed with me.’
The collection takes its name from the ‘Journeyman’s Letter’, the certificate of competency awarded to master craftsmen. The eye for detail and proportion necessary to achieve this level of craftsmanship comes through in the rug designs, which abstractly represent the relationship between the pieces of timber in dovetail and halving joins.
Frag says that, ‘as a designer I am interested in the way the dovetail, (for example), has evolved from a simple and practical construction technique to become (and rightly so) a symbol of quality and craftsmanship. Depicting these ‘joints’ in a two-dimensional illustrative and graphical expression emphasises these more symbolic notions.’
This narrative is picked up throughout the collection with the use of form and colour. Corner Halving Chevron uses blocks of colour in warm and cool golds contrasted with a dark charcoal grey and creamy white. The symbol of the halving join is repeated, appearing to carry on beyond the borders of the rug, giving it a sense of continuation. Corner Halving is ostensibly the simplest of the four designs, the simplicity of the muted blue enhancing the effect of two large planes that seem to hover, as if either receding apart or about to collide. The bamboo silk creates an almost painterly effect with the colour, with the pale background similar in colour to a light-coloured concrete creates a powerful negative space effect.
Dovetail Halving plays with colour, with deep blues, ochres and red dividing the rug’s area into several sections of unequal size. Mortice and Tennon takes the geometric pattern to a new level, with 2 of the rug’s diagonally opposite corners cut bluntly on the angle. The colour is stripped back, only a rich emerald green is set on a backdrop of neutral tones, allowing the physical shape of the rug and the shapes of the design to stand out.
The collection consists of four designs, but as Designer Rugs offer custom sizing, colour and even shape, the potential to create variations on the original designs is great, adding new possibilities to continue to the narrative begun with these four rugs.
The rugs are suitable in both commercial and residential spaces. No matter the setting, The Journeyman Collection offers an original contemporary interpretation of an important traditional craft. Reflecting on the symbolism of the joint detail through its considered use of high-quality materials and abstract forms, Mr Frag’s collection with Designer Rugs brings together time-honoured joinery techniques and modern interior design. The textural, geometric and complex designs prompt consideration of the relationship between furniture and rugs, and, like a fine piece of furniture, are striking, beautiful additions to any space.