New York textile and carpet designer Madeline Weinrib introduces her celebrated rug collections to the UK exclusively at Luke Irwin in Pimlico. Here the former artist tells The Resident how her travels influence her designs, about collaborations with the likes of Manolo Blahnik and how art still inspires her textiles
London’s Pimlico Road will get a taste of the Big Apple this winter as much-loved New York-based textile designer Madeline Weinrib introduces her beautiful, bold hand-woven rugs and carpets at Luke Irwin. After the success of her Knightsbridge pop-up Couture Lab last year, the collaboration between the two luxury rug designers is a chance for Madeline Weibrib fans here to peruse her hued handmade rugs, cushions and accessories – modern interpretations of traditional ikats and suzanis – and order exclusive and bespoke pieces from a permanent UK showroom. ‘It was important for me to work with someone with a similar ethos,’ she says. ‘Luke’s carpets are beautiful and made by hand which resonates with me, yet we have a different aesthetic so we don’t step on each other’s toes design-wise.’
Since her first collection in 1997, Madeline Weibrib’s chic creations have combined centuries-old weaving techniques, from hand-loomed Indian cottons to hand-knotted Tibetan wools, with a refreshingly contemporary twist: often with a rich colour palette and a play on scale. ‘It’s a challenging time for artisans with so many knock-offs and so much mass-production,’ says the designer, ‘but there’s so much more beauty in the real thing and we’re able to keep these traditional skills alive by applying a modern aesthetic to them. Ikat is actually a weave, not a print as you see on so many pieces now, and it has a far better quality to it when woven.’
Originally a successful painter, regularly exhibiting in New York galleries in the 90s, Madeline Weibrib was inspired by the idea of translating her painterly techniques to textiles and started to experiment with some designs. ‘I felt I was onto something interesting,’ she says. ‘Although at that time, things were very different – I had to make a choice between art and design.’
She continued to experiment, first with images she’d used as a painter and then later with influences picked up from her travels to Asia and North Africa. ‘I loved the ikats, jacquards and embroidered Daphne Ikat Pillow in Celery Merle and Blue Merle. We’re able to keep these traditional skills alive by applying a modern aesthetic to the suzanis that I was seeing in India, Nepal, Turkey and Morocco,’ she says. ‘I started to use those historic references – but with a modern approach.’
As part of the ABC Carpet & Home dynasty, Madeline Weibrib had the opportunity to assemble a rug collection for the popular home store (Madeline’s sister has recently taken over from their father in running the family business originally set up by their great grandfather over 100 years ago). The inaugural collection thrived and other collections, which included graphic handmade silk cushions and fabrics, followed. By 2000, Madeline Weibrib had hit her stride as a textile designer. ‘Going into decorative art, it was important to me to be original,’ she says, ‘that’s when I found my design voice.’
A large part of her business is bespoke but she has worked on interesting collaborations with other designers, including Manolo Blahnik most recently, where her beautiful block prints and ikat fabrics were translated onto pumps, sandals and shoes. ‘It was such a fun project. I don’t mass-produce or make a lot of products, so I get such a kick when I see someone wearing my designs,’ she says. ‘I’ve even gone over to talk to someone I’ve seen wearing the shoes at a cocktail party.’
Unsurprisingly art is a major influence and she has teamed up with a number of cultural institutions and galleries, even designing an umbrella, using her Sunder Suzani fabric inspired by artist Dagobert Peche for the Neue Galerie in New York. ‘There’s a grey area between art and design that I really enjoy,’ she explains. ‘I go through periods when I think about an artist and their work a lot, then I’ll jump to someone else, but it makes me rethink my work all the time.’
Those going to the Madeline Weinrib collection this December at Luke Irwin can expect classic pieces and new designs: bold graphic and colour-drenched cotton flatweave carpets, ikat cushions and much more – a designer in her element.
About Luke Irwin
Irish-born, London-based luxury rug designer Luke Irwin’s name is synonymous with stunning custom-made, hand-knotted rugs. After an early career in PR, Luke recognised his talents for design, launching his business in 2003. His clients now include the Prince of Wales and Barack Obama. This is the first time that the Luke Irwin store has carried another designer’s name.
Words by Jacky Parker