"The mark of all good art," Oscar Wilde begins in his lecture Decorative Art in America, "is not the thing is done exactly or finely, for machinery may do as much, but that it is worked out with the head and the workman's heart." Could it be that Tai Ping, the legendary artisanal rug company that has outfitted the floors of Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, the White House, and more, has mastered both with their latest collection in partnership with Callidus Guild's Yolande Milan Batteau?
Let's review: design enthusiasts know the power of a beautiful and beautifully made rug. Socialite and heiress Doris Duke surely knew it and exemplified her knowledge when she was constructing her home "Shangri La" in Hawaii in the 1930s. Though a Manhattanite by upbringing, this home was a masterful blend of Islamic design, with several rooms requiring loungers to sit or dine on fine carpets as if they were in the region where the home's design originated from. "Have you walked on one of Tai Ping's rugs yet?" Batteau asks. "Walking on that silk and cashmere is like hugging someone with a cashmere sweater on. It's euphoric."
The 18 rugs in their new collection, a collaboration that has spanned over two years, flex the plush feel. Since 1956, Tai Ping has exhibited textile prowess with a quick rise to international recognition after 1958, when Tai Ping caught the attention of elite American Clientele, including the Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California. "In this collection, I was both mining the legacy of my art work and things I've created with the Tai Ping's long history of fine craftsmanship," Batteau says. "There was an extraordinary archive of techniques and materiality from the brand that we combined with my past work into this collection."
Aside from the tactile attributes of the collection, the marriage of two parties is evident in the aesthetics. Callidus Guild, a Brooklyn-based decorative arts studio founded in 1998 by Batteau, has made their mark in the design world for their nods to mineral paints and organic materials. Tai Ping's past designs embody the same, often turning the floors they are set into visual spectacles (by this I mean, the statement piece in a room, rather than a supporting accessory).
Callidus Guild have an affinity for natural shapes.
Courtesy of Tai Ping
The designs of the collection are split into two. The first exhibits rigid and angular motifs that almost nod to terrain, whether smooth or rigid. The second is the carpets that are outfitted with more fluid designs that may remind onlookers of aquatic environments or gusts of wind. "We are both profoundly directed by nature," she says. "The sacred geometries, blurring seascapes, topographic grandeur."
The different methodologies of their assigned crafts help them grow as partners, too. "Her [Batteau] work with paint is immediate when it comes to color experimentation," Juliana Polastri, Global Design and Brand Director at Tai Ping tells T&C. "We obviously had to move at such a slow pace. It takes us weeks to draw designs, wait for sample weaves, and all of that."
"There's an ancient ancient argument," Batteau says. "What came first? Paintings? Or textiles? I think the process allowed me to learn so much more about weaving; things that I hadn't known before. There were things that I thought I was going to love that I didn't, and vice versa. We all kind of geeked out on each other. I think that was a gift from the weavers."
Ultimately, both Tai Ping and Callidus Guild have turned practical, foot-traffic-heavy piece of piece of furniture into art. At least, by Wilde's definition. "I believe that you should use your finest silver and china every day," Batteau says.
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