Just on the heels of my post extolling the supremacy of Italian design, I’ve come across the Nodus Rug Project by Il Piccolo in, of course, Milan. The reality of the company belies the name, for Il Piccolo is anything but little. Perhaps the name actually references a lesser-known meaning, “in miniature,” because one aspect setting the company apart is their insistent attention to detail. With roots as a family business “with tapestry at the core,” Il Piccolo is a designer’s designer.
The Nodus Project. Designed by Il Piccolo.
At last count they’d “created exclusive environments with architectural ideas, technical expertise and industrial design” for the stores of more than 700 major Italian brands, including Ferrè, Verri, “and above all Versace.” If their work is good enough for the latter, the world ought to pay attention when they announce a comprehensive new effort like Nodus. The project represents a new philosophy rather than just a new collection. Featuring nearly 60 new designs by an enviable roster of (mostly Italian) designers including Massimo Iosa Ghini, Francesco Lucchese, and Luca Nichetto, Nodus harnesses the vision of some of the world’s best designers and architects by partnering with producers from the quintessential locales for hand-weaved rugs (Nepal, Pakistan, India, Turkmenistan, China and Turkey). Creating each of these one-of-a-kind pieces entails visiting the particular locus of production, inspecting materials, observing the weaver’s techniques, and assuring ethical production.
Falling Leaves. Designed by Antonella Negri for II Piccolo.
Bagdad. Designed by Matteo Thun and Antonio Rodriguez for Il Piccolo.
Arlecchino. Donata Parruccini for II Picolo.
Carved. Designed by Enrico Franzolini for II Picolo.
Baba. Designed by Italo Rota and Alessandro Pedretti for Il Piccolo.
Complementare and Complementare 2. Designed by Fabio Bortolani for II Picolo.
On this last point, when Nodus says the rugs are devoid of any labor exploitation in the supply/production chain, you can bet they mean it. Each piece is guaranteed by Rugmark, an international foundation dedicated to ending abusive child labor practices: they rigorously review and inspect the manufacturing process at each facility every 3 months. The East meets West bent of the project seems especially exciting and fortuitous, given recent IIDEX keynote speaker Stephen Burks’ enthusiasm for these kinds of collaborative endeavors. And the product is the proof in the pudding. Il Piccolo characterizes Nodus as an invitation for an unconventional approach to rug design. A quick flip through some samples reveals the designers have responded to the challenge. The new pieces take inspiration from “dynamic and organic forms, like puzzle pieces, irregular profiles, or contemporary and everyday products such as fabrics, tablecloths, books and maps… all the rules are torn up, except one: The hand weaving, knot by knot.”