Exploring a rug’s social and environmental sustainability


A rug is an important bearer of culture for many people. It is the ultimate textile furniture. Throughout the ages, rugs have been placed on floors, beds, walls and tables. They have been used to cover cold floors and drafts; they have a major impact on the acoustics of a room. They gather groups of furnitures in a space, create a room within the room, serving as an aesthetic element.

Re Rag Rug is an experimental design project that explores the social and environmental sustainability of the rug. The project started in August 2012 by myself, Katarina Brieditis, and my associate, Katarina Evans. In 12 months, we created 12 unique rugs using 12 different textile techniques. The materials used: old clothing, scraps from the textile industry— fabric that otherwise would have been discarded.

We used a number of different types of rags in combination with a variety of textile techniques that included: sewing, crocheting, knitting, macramé, rolling, cutting, appliqué, embroidery, structure and relief effects, three dimensionality, color and dyeing techniques, but we also experimented with scales, and created 12 new types and expressions of rugs.

Re Rag Rug is an example on how design is a way to work with sustainability, and that a seemingly worthless material can be added value. We explored the waste where it was generated, refined it and made it into quality rugs. In our part of the world the waste is clothes, in others the waste is from factories. We work with this material and find interesting techniques and qualities suitable for unique hand-made pieces as well as for sustainable small-scale production.

Many of the rugs were made with craft techniques that didn’t require large spaces or machines and could therefore be manufactured as cottage industry in textile producing countries. Via this mode of production, using waste is environmentally sustainable while socially sustainable. At the same time, the production becomes a platform for developing crafts and creates jobs.

Our work has been off-line and shared on-line. In October 2013 all 12 rugs were exhibited for the first time at Färgfabriken in Stockholm Sweden, where we presented: Tailor, Kasuri, Pepita, Archipelago, Milky Way, Rosengång, Aquarelle, Off Pist, Re Orient, Squeeze, Nomad and Confetti – all with their own story. The 12 rugs will be on display at the Landskrona Museum in Sweden from June 8, 2014 through August 32014.

To learn more, please visit www.reragrug.blogspot.se