We’re excited to be featured in The New York Times for collaborating with the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) on providing custom wool rugs for the President’s House. As detailed in our recent interview, Interim President Rosanne Somerson has furnished the President’s House as much as possible with works created by RISD alumni. Our wonderful & talented textile designer Martin Emlein was credited as part of the group of distinguished alumni and our Tailormade rugs were center stage.
When Merida decided to start manufacturing in southern Massachusetts nearly twenty years ago, we saw the potential in the rich textile manufacturing community present there. Today, the town of Fall River is on the verge of a design manufacture renaissance, and Merida is proud to be spearheading that movement.
We’ve put together a list of four like-minded companies that we admire. These makers are helping fuel a resurgence of creative expertise and manufacturing excellence in each of their communities.
At the core of Shinola’s beliefs is the idea that “products should be built to last, and they should be built in America.” They make modern handcrafted watches, bicycles, leather goods, journals, and other accessories in Detroit, a city with a rich manufacturing history. They stand for “skill at scale, the preservation of craft, the beauty of industry.”
Shinola is committed to manufacturing as much as possible by hand and in America, to keep quality at the highest level, and to ensure top-notch quality control. They source from exceptional partners such as Horween Leather in Chicago and Hadley-Roma in Florida. Their bicycles are fabricated in Wisconsin and assembled in Detroit.
The heritage of Detroit is integral to Shinola’s story. Utilizing the iconic brand name of a former shoe polish manufacturer, the company is working to help revive a tradition and community of craftsmanship that was once common among American companies and industries. Assembly of Shinola’s watches and bicycles happens in their Detroit factory, and their goal is to “cultivate a cottage industry of suppliers who will move their operations to Detroit.” Detroit’s “once great” history as a manufacturing city is well known, and the positive effects of companies like Shinola will hopefully help spark a design manufacture revival.
The Urban Electric Company was founded in 2002 when very few companies were crafting high quality goods in America. Founder Dave Dawson believed that the interior design and architecture market would welcome a company focused on original design, craftsmanship, and service. Thirteen years later, Dawson is a leader in the industry, and The Urban Electric Co.’s innovative approach to quality manufacturing is thriving.
Each of the company’s products is bench-made and hand-finished at its 65,000 sq. ft. headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina, which houses its talented teams of engineers, sales and marketing professionals, designers, craftsmen and artisans. The company prides itself on manufacturing processes that secure the growth and sustainability of artisanal craft for the future by using modern techniques that enhance and refine the hand-build approach as opposed to replacing it. The Urban Electric Co. also offers one of the most extensive custom programs in the industry.
The company services an international client base of top interior designers and architects in the residential, hospitality and contract segments. The Urban Electric Co.’s catalogued collection includes nearly 300 interior and exterior fixtures designed by in-house Creative Director Michael Amato as well as several outside collaborations with some of the most renowned architects and designers in the industry including Darryl Carter, Steven Gambrel, Amelia Handegan, Mark Maresca, Richard Mishaan, Amanda Nisbet, Tom Scheerer and Nickey Kehoe.
Established in 1865 in Faribault, Minnesota, Faribault Woolen Mill Co. is the oldest manufacturing company in the state. fifth generation craftspeople take raw wool and create blankets, scarves, throws, and accessories. Century-old machinery stands side by side with modern technology in their “new” mill, which was built in 1890.
It is one of the last remaining mills in America producing goods from raw wool to finished woolens all under one roof. For the last half of the 20th Century the mill produced over half the wool blankets made in America. Since the 1890’s it has supplied millions of blankets to America’s armed forces.
After four generations of family ownership, the mill was acquired by a new ownership group and then shut down for 18 months in 2009. Cousins Paul and Chuck Mooty stepped in to purchase the mill, investing in equipment and infrastructure and bringing the valued employees back to work. The mill employs craftspeople with 30, 40 and even 60 years of experience. The company was inspired by its rich 150-year-old archives as it returned to its roots of making the highest quality woolens. As growth continues, the next generation of craftspeople are being recruited and production is expanding.”
Faribault has partnered with FEED by Lauren Bush Lauren to provide meals to families in America with each purchase of a FEED + Faribault product. They have also recently partnered with Billykirk out of Los Angeles, and Target, whose headquarters is also in Minnesota.
A neighbor and friend of ours in Fall River, Matouk, state that their purpose is “to enrich the lives of our customers and their families by creating the most beautiful and beloved collection of bed and bath linens.” Founded in 1929, Matouk is a family-owned full service luxury home textile source.
The founder, John Matouk, moved his fine linen business from Italy to the United States during World War II and settled in Manhattan. In 1985, George Matouk Sr. moved the company to southern New England because of its tradition of American textile production and community of skilled craftspeople. These traditions are alive and well today, and Matouk is an integral part of continuing to build that community.
The company has core beliefs detailing their commitment to their customers, partners, employees, and the quality of their manufacturing techniques. Matouk emphasizes innovation in design and creative approaches to problem solving at every level of the company. They believe strongly in their employees: “… a company that takes care of its employees and employees who take care of the company and each other. We treat our co-workers as individuals and consider employee impact in all of our business decisions.”
Matouk’s factory and headquarters are now located in Fall River, just up the road from our own weaving facility. Along with winning several small business and economic impact awards, Matouk recently completed a state of the art expansion of its Fall River facility with a Cambridge, MA based architecture firm. The company also has a collaborative collection with designer Lulu de Kwiatkowski.
All images (c) Shinola, The Urban Electric Co., Faribault Woolen Mill Co., and John Matouk & Co.
Why Fall River? Textile innovation returns to its roots
Fall River, Massachusetts, was once America’s leading textile center. At its peak in the 19th century, the city boasted more than 40 mills and was a bustling hub for manufacturers as well as suppliers, fabricators and craftsmen. But, like Detroit and so many other great centers of American manufacturing, Fall River fell on hard times as globalization and foreign competition put local producers out of business and jobs went overseas. By the 1960s, many of the town’s historic mills were abandoned or razed, and generations of knowledge and talent would go untapped.
When Merida made the decision to manufacture in the U.S. almost two decades ago, we knew the rich heritage that was right in our backyard. Sure, it would be challenging, but we believed the market was ready for beautiful, high-quality products made by expert craftspeople. Fall River had the people and skills to deliver on that. The rest would come down to a rigorous design process and an innovative approach to manufacturing. That, and spools of good old-fashioned American grit.
Eighteen years later, Merida continues to innovate as we expand our capabilities, with a talented team of local craftspeople and designers creating unique, hand-finished rugs, right in Fall River. Our 40,000 square-foot workshop hums to the rhythms of heritage and modern looms at work. Interior designers partner with us to bring their projects to life, tapping our textile expertise, knowledge of materials, and extensive customization capabilities.
Today, Fall River is on the verge of a design manufacture renaissance. Businesses are once again investing in local talent. Startups are moving into long-shuttered mills. And artists and designers from neighboring RISD are clearing the cobwebs from old factory floors to open studios and workshops.
Fall River has a new story to tell, and Merida is proud to be spearheading the next chapter, employing talented local craftspeople to bring textile innovation back to its American roots.
We love featuring designers and their work (if you missed it, read this post to see where three designers took our latest collection). This month we invited Young Huh and Mark D. Sikes, two designers who’s interiors always inspire us, to create design boards with styles of their choice from our new Crosspoint Collection. Their results are an exciting mix of chic, classic, and inventive.
Young Huh created a theme for an outstanding New York City apartment, with as much modern grace as welcoming touches. Her design is versatile, but makes a bold, elegant statement.
With impeccable attention to detail, Young’s projects are conceived and tailored to fit each client’s personality and needs. Fluent in a wide range of styles from historic to contemporary, Young’s interiors reflect her love of art and artisans, materials and textures. Young Huh Interiors is based New York City and works on projects across the country and abroad. “We constantly strive to bring a global point of view to our work. We love the challenge of incorporating new technologies and products into our designs and discovering those craftsmen who bring their unique skills to each project.”
Mark D. Sikes
West Hollywood, CA - http://www.markdsikes.com
Mark Sikes’ pulled from a stunning sunroom that he had already brought to life in a recent project. In a classic American style with unexpected touches, Mark’s design is timeless while remaining warm and functional.
Mark’s ability to seamlessly blend All-American classic style with both modern and European sensibilities has earned him immediate attention in the design community. He has developed a talent for creating spaces that perfectly balance beauty and function. Building on his success, Mark is currently working on multiple interior design projects throughout the U.S., including homes in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Montecito, Palm Springs, and Nashville.