Believe the Impossible · Chihuly Studio & The Rug Company

By Louise Irvine

Chihuly’s brilliant glass ceilings and walls have been reimagined as magic carpets thanks to a successful partnership between the Chihuly Studio’s glassblowing team in Seattle and The Rug Company’s weavers in Kathmandu, Nepal. You will be floored by this limited-edition collection and inspirational glass art side by side in Chihuly’s Macchia garden at WMODA.

The Masterpiece Collection

The Chihuly rugs, hand-knotted in wool and silk, are the result of a collaboration between master craftsmen working thousands of miles apart. The Rug Company was founded in London in 1997 and their rugs are made in Nepal from the hand-processed wool of Tibetan sheep grazing in the Himalayas. The Rug Company has collaborated with many of the world’s most revered designers who share their quest for outstanding quality and craft. Their admiration for Chihuly’s iconic glassworks led to the development of the Masterpiece collection with five limited edition designs, each limited to 250 pieces.

Pushing Boundaries

Chihuly studied interior design and architecture and discovered that the relationship between form and space is critical to his work. He has always loved creative experiments and he believes in pushing boundaries and taking risks. In 1963, his first glass project was weaving melted shards into tapestries, an unlikely combination that stimulated his curiosity for the combination of materials. He was hooked on glass when he blew his first bubble with a regular metal pipe from a hardware store. By the 1980s, Chihuly was creating his magnificent Macchia, Cylinders, and Persians with his glassblowing team. In his words, “Spending time with other artists has been critical to my creative energy and exploration.”

Impossible Projects

As Chihuly explains, “Because I work with many materials and have the help of a talented team of artists in my studio, I have been able to pursue projects that seem nearly impossible to achieve. Two such projects which resonated deeply with people are the Chihuly over Venice (1996) and Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem (2000)". Chihuly has long appreciated the power and beauty of light passing through glass and was amazed at how The Rug Company was able to able to translate translucency so brilliantly in an opaque product.

Himalayas to your Home

The Chihuly rugs are hand-knotted with Tibetan wool from the Himalayas which is unusually strong and shiny compared to other sheep wool and takes dye well. The wool is also rich in lanolin and the waxy oil makes the fleece more durable and water-resistant in the harsh climate of the Himalayas. However, the lanolin only remains in the wool if it is processed and washed by hand.

The Rosette design on display at WMODA also contains silk which adds a gorgeous luster to catch the light. The contrasting texture of the wool and the silk highlight the contours of Chihuly’s blown glass Persian rondels with the irregular forms layered over one another to play with the illusions of transparency.

The Harvest design on display at WMODA reflects Chihuly’s Navajo Blanket Cylinders where glass thread drawings are fused onto molten vessels using the pick-up technique. Chihuly has always had a great appreciation for woven textiles and has a large collection of Native American Trade blankets. He worked with Pendleton to create his own collection of blankets so it was a natural step into the world of rugs.

Tradition & Passion

The templates for making the Chihuly rugs were hand-drawn in Nepal and show the position and color of every single knot that the rug contains. Each rug is composed of many thousands of Tibetan knots. For this unique technique, the weaver passes the yarn around the warps and knots it around a metal rod that rests in front of the loom and then repeats the process. On an average day, each weaver can complete 1 to 2 inches of the most complex designs. Men and women work side by side weaving the rugs and each person is responsible for a width of 2 feet. They need to work at approximately the same speed and it is important for the same people to work together on a particular rug once the weaving has started. Once the rug has been completed, it is cleaned in soapy water, rinsed thoroughly and then dried flat in the sun before meticulous hand-finishing. These traditional artisanal techniques have not changed for hundreds of years and have led to an unbelievably beautiful collaboration between The Rug Company and the Chihuly Studio in Seattle.

Reflections on Nature

The Rug Company’s amazing photoshoot in the glasshouses at Kew Gardens in London conjured up nostalgic memories of Chihuly’s Reflections on Nature exhibition in 2019. The photographs show the five designs in The Rug Company’s limited-edition Chihuly collection: Rosette, Harvest, Pheasant, Poplar and Cylinder. Five standard sizes are available to order ranging from 6 by 4 feet to 10 by 8 feet and two of the largest rugs have been graciously loaned to WMODA from the company’s DCOTA showroom in Dania Beach. Ask for details at the WMODA shop and you will be introduced to the Showroom Director Silvana Garrido for bespoke service.


Believe the Impossible Event

Believe the Impossible