“With these rugs, I’m exploring the idea of taking an ephemeral moment and turning it into a permanent artifact.”
This week, PSFK will be interviewing a variety of designers — both established and up-and coming, to give a preview of what to look forward to at this year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), taking place this Friday through Monday in NewYork. This year, the majority of designers will be displaying their work at the Jacob K. Javits center, and we’ve asked them to give us some insights into what they will be displaying, their design process, where to find them in the center, and which booths they’ll be checking out in their free time.
We asked Laila Ahmadi to share some thoughts and images about her work and the work of others with us.
What are you preparing to show at this year’s ICFF?
This year, Proper Rugs, my line of hand-knotted Tibetan rugs, will debut at ICFF. The design for each rug is inspired by a singular moment in time. With these rugs, I’m exploring the idea of taking an ephemeral moment and turning it into a permanent artifact. Each rug is hand-knotted by artisans in Nepal, and takes four to six months to create. Proper Rugs is a member of GoodWeave, an independent organization that ensures that no child labor is used in the creation of the rugs.
How would you briefly describe your design process?
My design process starts very hands-on: I take lots of photographs, and I draw and paint motifs that are informed by details (like a close-up of a rocky shoreline directly after high tide (in Autumn Seaweed), or the quasi-psychedelic, swirling endpapers of an ancient text (Marbleized Knots)). I then scan my sketches, and layer them to create a composition. I’ll often print these out, cut them up, layer some more, and scan again. As I’m going through this process, I will write a brief story about each rug, explaining that moment that inspired the design. I use that as a way to gauge the direction of the design, and if I need to rework it to convey the message.
Have any recent design trends influenced your current work?
My background is in graphic and textile design, and both of these areas have turned me into a super-collector of objects and ideas. So while I do stay on top of color trends in fashion and the home furnishings industry, I am mostly influenced by the patterns that I start to see over time. Certain colors and motifs may seem off-beat, but when you look at design history, they can actually be quite universal.
Who is the one designer whose work you will definitely be checking out at the show?
Council’s work is always exciting—they’re creating the new modern classics, and they’re not afraid to experiment with materials. I also love the collaborative nature of the company.
Do you feel the ICFF show is evolving in a way which keeps pace with the design industry?
I’ve been attending ICFF since 2005, but this is my first year exhibiting at the show. I like that the fair allows up-and-coming designers to share the same space as established, internationally-known brands. As an independent, it’s great to be able to tell my story in that company. The show is also a manageable size—you don’t get lost in the mix One of the best aspects of ICFF is seeing student work from the various design schools. These students are breathing innovation into the field with their prototypes, because they’re focused on the process, and able to take risks. This creative agility is what moves the design industry forward. As long as ICFF continues to provide a place for these exhibitors, it will remain relevant.
Where will you be exhibiting during this year’s ICFF?
I will be exhibiting at the Javits Center, booth #852.
As the culmination of all our ICFF coverage, PSFK will be hosting a Salon on the Future of Design featuring the editors of top design websites. The event will take place this Friday the 13th from 8:30 to 11am at Soho House.
Click here for details.