Illustrator Chris Haughton merges his art and his craft in his new venture, a fair trade rug company called Node.
Commissioning rug designs from some of the visual artists he most admired, such as Geoff McFetridge and Donna Wilson, the altruistic project supports traditional carpet making skills in Nepal.
Haughton comments that he loves the work of fair trade, and worked with producers in India in Nepal. He says that, “…I think meeting the rug makers was most exciting because they were so relevant to my own work as an illustrator.”
So, it seems as though the main idea of Node itself, is as much about the designers of these wonderful rugs as they are about their designs. Having come across the Nepal’s tradition of Tibetan carpet weaving and meeting the founder of the Kumbeswar Technical School in Kathmandu in his travels, he came to understand how this school was created to help people, and to help them rise out of poverty.
Haughton says the process of working with so many people was challenging, but that the effort was worth it. For instance, artist McFetridge, was excited to be part of the initiative. He states that, “…I am drawn to things that are handmade and thoughtfully produced.”
The designers aren’t the only winners in this story, however, the weavers in Nepal are also seeing the benefits of the collaboration. Kumbeswar is now thinking of scaling up, and is able to hire new weavers for the success of the show. “That’s what our aim was,” Haughton says. “Yes, it’s important to support traditional crafts and see these skills being kept alive and re-invigorated, but this project is as much about giving work and skills to those who need a helping hand as it is about supporting traditional crafts.”
The 18×18 collection is now available for purchase from The Design Museum. Hurry and get them while they’re hot too, because each design is produced in a limited edition of ten.