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Little Field of Flowers

Nanimarquina—In 1987, Barcelona-based designer Nani Marquina established a textile and rug design studio. Since 1993, the company’s designs have been manufactured in northern India. Marquina has devoted her career to promoting sustainable ethics in production. Her definition of “sustainable” applies both to materials (her rugs are mostly biodegradable, and one, Bicicleta, is made from recycled bike inner tubes) and to fair labor and trade practices. In 2006, Nanimarquina introduced Little Field of Flowers, the first rug by Netherlands-born, England-trained, France-based Tord Boontje.

SPN Carpets, which is on the outskirts of Delhi, is the company that Nanimarquina tasks to manufacture their Boontje-designed rug, Little Field of Flowers. Here, a technician holds up a flower before it’s tucked into the loom.

  • nanimarquina little field of flowers boontje illustration

    Little Field of Flowers: Sketching

    Little Field of Flowers was first conceived in 2005, when, in the cyclical course of design trends, flowery was at the height of fashionability. Nani Marquina says, “We thought it would be nice to work with a designer who excels in floral creations, so we contacted Tord Boontje and asked him to send us a proposal.” (In 2002, Boontje had released his signature Garland lampshade, a paper-thin sheet of metal etched with pastoral outlines that the consumer pops out and forms around a naked bulb.)

    Boontje’s studio responded to Nanimarquina’s request with an array of characteristic drawings—ornate winding patterns of flowers, leaves, branches, deer, birds, horses, and dragons—that looked like graphic updates of medieval tapestries. Nanimarquina’s Catalonian production team envisioned the designs as modern-day textured patterns on woven surfaces.

  • Little Field of Flowers: Prototyping

    “We ordered the first prototypes in an embossed pattern,” explains Marquina, who works with several Indian manufacturing facilities. The Nanimarquina team instructed the manufacturers to use a traditional rug-making technique called hand-knotting to transform Boontje’s iconic graphics into relief patterned rug samples. In weaving there is a warp and a weft. The weft threads weave over and under the tensioned warp threads, row after row, to create a surface. When hand-knotting woven carpets, the technicians tie knots to the warp threads and use a tufting gun to secure them in a rapid pulling motion.

  • Little Field of Flowers: Die Cutting

    As Boontje’s signature style is often associated with cutouts, Marquina’s solution was a good fit. Sheets of felt from Rajasthan go into a die cutter, which is essentially a combination of a waffle iron and a cookie cutter. An iron press cuts outlines into shapes. Using Boontje’s designs, the team at Nanimarquina created six flower combinations for the process, connecting a large blossom to a small one with a narrow stem that is then attached to the rug. The team had to simplify some of the flowers’ intricacies to keep the corners clean and resilient. Die cutting takes place at SPN Carpets in Panipat, an industrial town and weaving hub on the massive outskirts of Delhi. “We outsource the die–there are lots of die manufacturers in Delhi,” says Tony Mittal, the factory owner. “The machine is about the size of a washing machine. After we press the flowers, we remove them from the machine by hand. Occasionally we find that the edges are no longer crisp, at which point we replace the die.”

  • nanimarquina little field of flowers weaving

    Little Field of Flowers: Weaving

    Depending on the size of the rug—they come in three sizes—one or two technicians at SPN operate the loom, which involves painstaking manual labor. “Every two or three lines,” Marquina explains, “we insert a pair of die-cut flowers. They are fixed through a wool thread that is woven between the flowers and the base.” The technicians follow an intricate pattern, much like in knitting, which graphically conveys the intended location of each distinct flower pairing. They can produce one rug in a seven-hour workday. “It wasn’t easy,” Marquina remembers, “to find manufacturers willing to take on this project—it’s quite complex.” Mittal was more than willing. “I really enjoy working with Nanimarquina,” he says. “Every time they give me different kinds of designs to make, and I like the challenge. We feel proud.” is your online home in the modern world. Join us as we follow our team around the globe on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Want more? Never miss another word of Dwell with our free iTunes app.