SHARING THE SKY: DANE AUSTIN'S 5 UNDER 40 RUG DESIGN JOURNEY
When New England Home announced earlier this year that I would be honored with the Five Under Forty Award, for a moment —the earth stood still. Then I exploded with excitement and started dancing around the room celebrating the honor. I am humbled and touched by the recognition - as one of “New England’s finest emerging talents” - and thrilled by the opportunity to participate.
Five Under Forty recipients create rugs for auction to benefit Barakat. In March, the five of us met at Landry & Acari for a Rug Design Seminar to discuss our ideas and learn the process. Most of the rugs created by past winners have been designed as rectangles to view vertically, but I imagined that alternative shapes and views could be intriguing and whimsical. Although I have designed rugs for clients in the past, this was more unrestricted — the sky was the limit!
FINDING INSPIRATION IN NATURE
Blue and green are the colors that I find both calming and energizing. I am drawn to teal green or aqua blue. When I close my eyes, those are the colors I see. That’s where I find solace. Whenever I’ve been stressed in my life, I go for a walk in the woods, or lay under a tree. That’s been my refuge since I was young. I would bike out to the river and hang out on the dock, surrounded by trees on the water. I loved peering up at the tree canopy and still do. It’s how I connect with the earth and feel at one with nature. Stop, look, and listen — It’s so peaceful.
While I had many ideas, re-creating the green leaves of trees against the blue sky felt the most innate. My rug was inspired from an image I had previously posted, mentioning that it would make a great rug, even before being selected as a 5 Under 40 honoree. I put it out into the universe and what happened was that I got to create a piece of art sparked by what I find essential.
A horizontal - landscape - view best captured the composition I imagined. Looking down at what we usually look at skyward felt playful and unpredictable. Another consideration was that the rug could be viewed like a picture, hanging on the wall. From a community-minded perspective, I considered which concept would appeal to a large number of people and potentially be the most profitable for the charity.
RUG CREATION PROCESS
Each of us met at the Landry & Acari showroom with their very knowledgeable and friendly team to learn about the process, review ideas, and select poms – thread colors – to match the various hues of our designs. It was a highly collaborative process, working out the graphic design, colors, textures, and fiber content to decide which threads should be silk or wool, looped or cut pile. We explored the variance in color and texture and what a difference that 100 knots vs. 150 knots per square inch can make in the appearance of a rug.
Where the light is coming through the branches, the thread is silk, providing a sheen reminiscent of how light dapples on leaves. As the light moves across my rug in an asymmetrical pattern, the thread turns to wool, providing more matte texture. There are a multitude of different hues: several colors of green poms constitute the leaves of the tree canopy; browns and creams representing the branches; blues, whites and grays compose the sun, sky and shadows. In all, 17 different colors were used (leave it to me), and 150 knots per square inch of silk and wool threads.
The rug was hand-knotted in Kathmandu, Nepal. I am grateful to the women who made my vision a reality. Our design is on display in Boston, leading up to the September 12, 2019 event. All auction proceeds go to Barakat, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based nonprofit dedicated to providing exemplary basic education in Afghanistan and Pakistan that advances literacy and increases access to secondary education, primarily for girls and women.
FRIENDSHIPS ARE BORN
One of the aspects I enjoyed the most was getting to know the other 2019 honorees.
Architecture: Thomas McNeill, Hutker Architects, Cape Cod, MA
Interior Design: Tyler Karu, Tyler Karu Design + Interiors, Portland, ME
Landscape Design: Cheryl Russ, Glengate Company, Wilton, CT
Specialty Category: Lighting: Yukinori Miles Endo, Studio Endo, Providence, RI
I loved being around their energy and spending time with the crew. We had an instant connections and clicked from the beginning. Collaborating with Landy & Acari was also a special part of the experience. They have been so supportive of the New England design community and for that — I am grateful.
Creating an entire line of rugs would be really fun to do. Even though the idea that became my rug was the most striking for me at the time, I have many others in my sketchbook. I definitely have a greater appreciation since learning so much about the process, and have a deeper respect for all that goes into this skilled artisan craft.
SAVE THE DATE
Join us for the Tenth Annual
5 Under 40 Awards
September 12, 2019
Rug Preview: 6:00 pm
Award Ceremony & Rug Auction: 6:30 pm
Cocktail Party: 7:30 pm
The Galleria at 333 Stuart Street, Boston, MA.