If you were to see the world through the eyes of the Patternistas, it would be unstoppable – an endlessly reinventing kaleidoscope of colour and pattern. Every chance interaction of branches and shadows is a moment of wonder. The most innocuous insect multiplies into a wall of shape and colour.
The Patternistas – Chris and Suzanne Carpenter – revel in the simplicity and complexity of nature. They capture the shapes and the symmetries that the rest of us overlook. And thank goodness they do. The world of interior design would be a much duller place without them.
We first met Chris and Suzanne at the Decorex trade show in 2016, and were drawn to their bold and joyful approach. The result was Patternistas for Rug Couture, a collection of eight rugs made from hand-knotted New Zealand wool, some with accents in art silk.
Patternistas – constantly creating
Chris and Suzanne spent many years as intermittent collaborators, but only recently came together as Patternistas. They work well together; they share a love of energetic and bold design, and both spent their childhoods in more vibrant regions of the world: Asia for Chris, Africa for Suzanne.
S: We’re happy to work to a client’s brief and create bespoke patterns to a specific mood or theme, but when designing to our own brief, our work is always bold, bright, and lively.
C: We respond to the same things – not necessarily in the same way – but share the joy in experimenting with colour and pattern.
S: Yes, and when we’re together our eyes are like sponges soaking up details from our environment and constantly sharing our observations. It’s like an intense game of I-spy.
C: We see design as a lifestyle not just a job. Even when we’re not working on a commission we are researching and creating a library of patterns that collaborators or specifiers can choose from.
S: So when it’s time to create bespoke designs for a specific application or project, we already have a wealth of experience to draw on.
Handmade rugs and the magic of human intervention
C: One intriguing aspect of our work is the way a pattern changes when we apply it to different surfaces. But nothing compares to handmade rugs. Human intervention introduces a fresh element – something magical takes place.
S: Seeing the amazing care and craftsmanship that goes into weaving our patterns in wool is such a treat. It’s wonderful to witness a two-dimensional design transforming into a tactile, luxurious product.
Social media and easy travel provide windows into stunning patterned cultures from around the world. Society is becoming more design-led and confident, and consequently people have high expectations of their surroundings. And that’s having an effect on hospitality venues. To compete they have to be as photogenic as possible. They need personality and atmosphere.
C: Yes, the Instagrammability of a social space – a hotel or café – is vital. People need something to respond to. We like to create designs that viewers can respond to on a number of levels. From a distance, patterns such as Petra Parker look abstract and trellis-like, but on closer inspection you spot the beetle hidden in the detail.
Always more than meets the eye
S: It’s a cliché to say that we’re inspired by nature, but after all it’s in our chemistry and our biology. Our bodies are made up of patterns that recur in nature – we depend on them to function and learn. Our Family rug was inspired by microscopic pictures of cells and genes.
C: There’s always more to our patterns than meets they eye. We like to design rugs that put smiles on people’s faces and become the focal point of a room. Choose a rug from our eclectic collection for Rug Couture and you’ll have an uplifting centrepiece that will sit happily in a classic or contemporary interior.
S: Yes, we’ve had a wonderful response to our work so far – which is good news as we’re on a mission to cover the world in joyful pattern.