A Passion for Bespoke Rugs

by Becky Hoh in Bespoke stories

Jennifer Manners Bespoke Rugs is a little company with a big passion for rugs.

Like so many of the best and most unique companies, the former international news journalist, Manners started the company after creating a piece for her own needs as she felt that there wasn’t anyone else providing the eclectic look she desired. While sourcing the ideal rug for one of her interior schemes, she chose to design herself a rug that suited the space. She then set out to find the most skilled artisans in the world to bring it to life. This journey gave birth to her business, which was launched in 2011.

The company now runs its own line that can be modified in colour and size but also works on many purely bespoke rug commissions, which have taken place in the UK, the US and most recently the Middle East.

‘Throughout the process we send photos of the rug under weaving and give some detail about the individuals making their rug.’

Manners trained in interior design at Central Saint Martins after her career in journalism. This international background can be felt in many of the permanent collections; there’s a certain Islamic geometry with African tribal patterns to be felt. Also there are South American and South East Asian playful, bright colours as well as a great range of more subtle and neutral designs. It’s a refreshingly exciting mix. The rugs are woven in New Zealand and Himalayan wools (which take colour very well) by skilled artisans from India and Nepal where the ancient craft of weaving rugs has been alive for centuries.

Closer to home Manners designs the bespoke rugs in her South West London studio alongside a ‘creative graphic design whizz’.

‘We bounce ideas back and forth in a mad and ‘blue-sky-thinking’ kind of way so that the creativity doesn’t get stale and we are always moving forward,’ she explains. ‘And yes, we have a collection of rugs that clients can choose from and have made in their own size, colour and quality. However, we love to create one-off, bespoke pieces that ties elements from the space into the piece and create something that is completely individual to its owner. We love making it a collaboration with the individual commissioning the rug too, so that it feels like a piece that truly reflects their personality and aesthetic.’

Manners says she can use anything from a carving in a door, etching in glass or a painting as inspiration for a completely bespoke option. And has recently just finished the design for a stair runner for the home of an artist in Barnes. ‘It’s very abstract and mad,’ she describes, ‘we used seventeen different colours incorporating splashes of colour taken from artwork along the walls at different points in the runner. It was a real collaborative effort and I loved that the client took me out of my comfort zone with the use of so many colours. It is a hand-knotted piece that will take months to complete as only 16cm of length can be knotted in a single day due to the intricate design. It feels a bit like creating the central piece of artwork for this grand, modern space!’

Manners works with both trade and private clients, and finds the former will almost certainly have a clear idea of what they want making completion quick and straightforward, which she enjoys. But often the latter is a more complicated process with a deeper sense of reward in her opinion. ‘Working with an individual is probably a longer road. Working with the person who is going to have the piece in their home means they are emotionally invested in it and care about each and every detailed decision to be made,’ she says. ‘They often have suggestions which are fabulous and are things we haven’t thought of ourselves. Throughout the process we send photos of the rug under weaving and give some detail about the individuals making their rug. To see the piece come together can be emotional and personal. Delivering those rugs to the client is overwhelmingly satisfying. It’s no surprise that many clients also become friends!’

Clients, both existing and potential, can soon be imersed in the design process from the get go with the team currently refurbishing the South West London showroom, to be based more on the idea of artist’s atelier studio, where designs will take place on site. There will be plenty of samples of both wool and silk knotted patterns, as well as flat woven rugs, and the space will enhance the bespoke aspect of what they do even further.

Jennifer Manners –  www.jennifermanners.co.uk

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