Sep 16

A Collaboration Is Born: A conversation with designer Mark D. Sikes

Fashion designer, interior designer, and blogger, Mark D. Sikes brings his spirited take on California living to his first rug collection, created in collaboration with the Merida design team. We chatted with Mark about the inspiration behind the California Stripes collection, his roots in fashion, and his lifelong obsession with stripes.

What role do rugs play in your projects?

Rugs play a huge role for me. They’re the beginning of a scheme and set the foundation of every room. I’m not the kind of designer that starts with a big antique rug. I tend to gravitate toward natural fiber rugs, or something like a striped dhurrie – which is what this collection is all about. I also like to layer rugs, a natural fiber with a different style of rug on top.

Presidio Chocolate

Why do you source Merida rugs for so many of your projects?

I use a lot of different rugs and Merida’s product far exceeds most of the competitors out there. Seeing how Merida develops their rugs, I have a better appreciation for the quality of their yarns and their craftsmanship, and also the value of their expertise. They’re problem solvers and will work with you to figure things out, and for a designer it’s important to have that collaboration. There’s a high level of client service that’s just part of their brand.

How do the dhurries in this collection compare to traditional handwoven dhurries?

We wanted to capture the look of a vintage dhurrie, but thicker, more durable. When you look at the construction, the quality of the wool yarns, these rugs are made to last. We worked hard to get the details right – the colors, the striations and shade bands, and the finishing. The end result is a collection that is timeless and beautiful.

Palisades Denim

Where do you see designers using these rugs in their projects?

I genuinely believe they work in any space, and in any location in the country. They look great layered in a bedroom, as a foundational rug for a family room, as runners in hallways. The collection has a lot of range and the rugs are incredibly versatile. They’re alive, they’re happy, and they’re very cool.

Montecito Chambray

Montecito Chambray

What surprised you most about the process of creating a rug collection?

Working with Merida on this, I’ve come to appreciate all the detail that goes into it. Just the steps involved in getting a color exactly right can be a very long process. I will never look at a rug the same way again. As a designer it was important to be a part of that process, and I also think it’s important for consumers to understand how much is involved to create a rug of this quality.

What was it like collaborating with the Merida design team?

What impressed me most from the beginning of the process is how creative it was. I was very inspired by the way they accumulated inspiration to visualize what a collection could be. After an initial conversation with their creative director, Roxanne Hanna, she and her team presented mood boards. I love mood boards and I really liked how the creative conversation started. Throughout the collaboration the creative process was always at the forefront.

Their design process is also very structured and organized. There’s a lot of communication, and we always had integration points where we shared ideas and would tweak things. I appreciate structure because I tend to work that way as well. I was focused on the aesthetic and the look, and working with Merida I knew I could count on them for the quality, the durability and the value the rugs provide.

Brentwood Red

What was the inspiration for the collection?

The collection is very much inspired by traditional dhurries, which I started gravitating towards about ten years ago. I buy vintage dhurries and tend to use them a lot in projects. I layer them, cut them, make runners out of them. A lot of images in my new book (Beautiful: All-American Decorating and Timeless Style) were taken prior to my collaboration with Merida, and you see me using these types of rugs in many different ways, whether it’s casual or formal, east coast or west coast.

One source of inspiration was a photograph of a Billy Baldwin room – at Villa Fiorentina, on the Mediterranean in the south of France – with all this blue furniture and a huge striped dhurrie in the center of the room. The photo was taken more than forty years ago, but the room looks great today and will look great forty years from now.

Image Billy Baldwin Remembers via Peak of Chic

Stripes are a big part of your brand. What does a stripe do for you?

Anyone who knows me knows I love stripes, in both fashion and interiors. Stripes are season-less… timeless and classic. There’s a graphic nature to it that works with everything. It can work with a floral print or a batik. Stripes go with anything and there’s something appealing about it that makes a room approachable.

Palisades Denim

How does your fashion background inform your interior design approach?

Working in fashion you learn so much about solid and print, hard and soft, classic and trend – that all relates to interior design. And the way you merchandise or lay out a store is similar to how you would do a living room. The fundamentals are the same.

Presidio Chocolate

As a designer, what’s most important to you in a partner?

Besides the quality of their rugs, what attracted me to Merida was the integrity of the company and the people. When I first met [CEO and owner] Catherine Connolly and [creative director] Roxanne Hanna, there was this feeling that there was a common sense of who we all were. And that’s a special thing that’s hard to translate. There’s a genuine spirit to what they do that’s really important, and that spirit comes across in the finished product.

Brentwood Red

Explore California Stripes

Sep 16

A Refined Retreat in Upstate New York – Q&A With Designer Brittany Bromley

When an energetic city-dwelling family needed to cement a permanent country retreat, they sought the help of Brittany Bromley Interiors to make their new place feel like home away from home. With a blend of classic and modern style and an eye towards functionality, Brittany Bromley gave this architecturally charming home an elegant and energetic design. We caught up with Brittany to see what makes her tick and to take a closer look at this beautiful Upstate New York project.

Where do you draw inspiration from to start your design process?

From the beginning, I take classical and traditional design ideas and try to infuse them with modern functionality that reflects my clients’ personalities. In my own design ethos I am extremely drawn to symmetry, but I am also aware that too many pairs begins to feel a bit like Noah’s Ark. So I try to offset each of those pairs with an occasional chair, stool or something that throws off the balance of the room and gives it interest.

Featuring a Bora Bora jute rug.

I love the idea of taking the eye on a journey around the room. Having things at high and low levels is important for that to be a satisfying journey. Last but not least I never forget to include some “life” in every room that I design. I am a huge believer in greenery and plants—mother nature is the world’s finest Designer and I adore including her work in anything that I design.

Featuring Tonga Deep Sea.

How did the architecture and character of the house help inform your design choices?

This is a home with lots of natural light and that is the greatest gift of all. We can do lots of things with our magic bag of tricks as designers, but one thing we cannot change is the architecture. Having that as a starting platform on which to build is always ideal.

Featuring a custom Catalyst wool & linen rug.

My clients have three young children and the architecture of the house plays well to having breezy rooms suffused with a casual elegance. The high ceiling height allowed us to really play up wall and window treatments, and use both as punctuation for the furniture in the rooms. Also, many of the rooms on the first floor open with high and wide doorways so the color palette needed to make sense from one room to the next.

What role did our rugs play in your design process?

Merida is where I turn to first for floor coverings on any project. Their selection of both natural fiber and wool rugs is unparalleled and rugs are the foundation for any room. I am also a big believer in supporting the artisanal craftsmanship Merida is known for, and I love their idea of merging technology with traditional forms of weaving to create designs that are exceptional but that still put quality and integrity first.

Featuring Antwerp Belgian Linen.

In this instance we knew we were going to have a lot of textural and graphic wall treatments on the first floor and so the rugs in those rooms needed to be bold enough texture-wise to stand up to the wall treatments, but not so bold that they would begin to take away from some of the pattern play.

Featuring Tonga Deep Sea

As there’s no separation between the dining room and the front parlor we needed to have something that would visually work with the design in both of those rooms. We settled on the very graphic textural nature of the sisal because it is sophisticated enough to work with our silk covered French chairs, but rustic enough that it doesn’t put our 18th century Swedish Gustavian dining table to shame!

Featuring Antwerp Belgian Linen.

Featuring Antwerp Belgian Linen.

Perhaps the most important and agonizing decision we made in the house design as a whole was that of the staircase and hallway runner. After much deliberation we eventually settled on a custom colorway of Merida’s Catalyst rug.

This rug allowed us to unite the color scheme of the public areas in the first and second floors and also served as the graphic punch that one sees upon entering the home. It’s youthful, fun and sophisticated, which happen to be exactly the words that I would use to describe this young family. And of all of the many design choices that we made in this beautiful home, it is the one that is most remarked upon and continues to be what everyone compliments.

What was your favorite room or vignette to design?

Honestly the entire house was really a joy, but if I had to pick one room in particular it would be the master bedroom. My clients live primarily in the city and, as all of us former city-dwellers do, they spent very little time in their bedroom due to its size.

Featuring Cortina Avalanche wool & sisal rug with a fireplace cut-out.

Country living brings a much slower pace of life, so I was very focused on creating a beautiful sitting area in the master bedroom where this couple could retire to read the paper or do other leisurely activities. The restful colors of pale celadon, pale coral and cream suffuse this room with a calming energy, and the ample sitting area makes the room feel well appointed.

My clients adore the end result, and so do I, it’s a tranquil retreat from the hectic life of a young family—which is truly the ultimate gift!

Who or what has been your greatest influence as a designer?

I was very fortunate to be raised in beautiful homes by extremely aesthetically minded parents who were constantly collecting and curating. It was an inspiring environment to grow up in and it gave me what we laughingly call a high quotient for “everyday beauty!”

Some of the designers whose work I am most inspired by are Alessandra Branca, Tom Scheerer, Mary McDonald, and Thomas Britt.

What energizes you?

I love the idea of being able to help people live the way that they aspire to live. Everyone is different, and the home in which each individual wants to live is extremely specific to that person. I love that I get to be the interpreter, and to take each of those specific wants and needs and translate them into an environment in which they feel like the best version of themselves.

All photos by Jane Beiles


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Aug 16

5 (More) Ways to Style Stairs with Wool Rugs

We love collaborating with clients on full projects and custom installations. Lately, we’ve been doing more and more creative staircase runners woven and fabricated to order at our mill in southern Massachusetts. Our last post 5 Ways to Style a Staircase with Wool Rugs was such a hit that we’re back with 5 more inspiring stair installations.

Make a Bold Staircase Even Bolder

When a staircase has a unique shape, a striking runner can draw attention to it as a focal point. This staircase, designed by Cari Berg, uses three separate pieces to highlight the three sections of staircase in this Hollywood Hills home.

A closeup of the custom Plough rug, with Undyed Noir wool and Marshmallow wool.

Cari Berg’s custom Plough on our Jacquard loom. We wove and finished each section of this staircase to order for these particular stairs.

Think Big – No Staircase is Too Long

A talented installer should have no problem installing on a longer staircase, spiraling or not. Our Service and Installation Director Bob Margies personally vets our network of installers to make sure every install meets our standards.

A stair runner can also create visual breaks in a large staircase, such as in the Diamant Natural install below by designer Amelia T. Handegan. It will also reduce noise from any traffic on so many wooden stairs.

Diamant Desert Taupe on our Jacquard loom.

Contrast with the Stairs for a Chic Look.

For stairs that you really want to stand out, use a runner that contrasts with the color of the stairs themselves. This white and gray Serai Natural is visually stunning against dark stairs and compliments the white moulding and railing details. From a project by Lucas Studio.


Use Vertical Lines for a Graphic Effect That Won’t Be Jarring

Vertical lines will add graphic interest to a stair runner and can provide a pop of color. By running down the stairs, vertical lines can serve as a guide to draw the eyes upward. This Troy Mist runner designed by Chris Barrett also adapts to a 90 degree turn with a stylish diagonal seam.


Use a Dark Color for a Handsome Stair Runner that Won’t Show Dirt

If you are concerned about a staircase in a higher traffic area becoming dirty, use a darker colorway in a tone-on-tone pattern. The dark tone and subtle pattern will hide dirt while still looking refined and stylish. This project by Lucas Studio uses Arabesque Pebble from the Tissage collection.


Shop our Wool Rugs >

Aug 16

A Tradition of Weaving in New England

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 caught up with another company with roots in New England’s textile weaving tradition, and dished about inspirations and in-house textile creation.

We spoke with Bess Clarke, CEO of Nantucket Looms, a boutique storefront and handweaver operating in the heart of Nantucket since 1968. For high-end clients to discerning visitors and locals alike, Nantucket Looms has carried on a tradition of design manufacturing and in-house weaving, in addition to a flourishing interior design business. They also help foster a community of local artists and artisans who are featured in their shop.

How did your partnerships with luxury fashion houses and high-end clients begin, and how have they developed?

Many of these partnerships developed from the connections the original founders of the Looms —Bill Euler and Andy Oates— had to designers and to customers from New York and Boston who vacationed on Nantucket. Bill had worked at the Plaza Hotel in NYC and Andy had studied under master weaver Anni Albers at the famed Black Mountain College, so they both brought a variety of experiences and relationships to the business. Bill and Andy had both developed reputations for excellence in design and quality and became the go-to for high-end production textiles, before fabric was so readily outsourced abroad on a mass production scale.  Nantucket Looms has proudly produced the wall coverings for the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the fabric in Chanel’s Corporate Headquarters in Paris and for the upholstery fabric in Bill Gates’ private airplane. And the list goes on…

Nantucket Looms Master Weaver Andy Oates in the 1970s.

What is it about Nantucket that inspires you?

We find inspirations in the natural color palette of the island—the greens and browns of the moors, the blues and turquoise of the ocean and the soft grays, pinks, and soft purples of the sky. Also, in the landscape and details of the island; In the organic shapes of shells and seaglass found on our beautiful beaches, in the historic Quaker architecture that has been so carefully preserved over the past two hundred years and of course in the local art of the island—everyone from weavers to basket makers, painters, potters, carvers and jewelers who carry their work here at Nantucket Looms.

photo: Abby Capalbo // @abbycapalbo

Explain the value of having both textile design and weaving under the same roof.

In our world design and weaving go hand in hand, literally. Each weaver personally oversees the production of every piece they make, start to finish. The design component, the actual weaving of the textile and the finishing process are all equally important parts of the process. Since we only produce 7-14 pieces at a time, each textile deserves the time and attention to make them unique.

How do you envision the future of design, textiles, and interiors?

I think people will have more focused interest in where things are made and how they are produced. Now that interior furnishings can be readily accessed online in a moment’s notice, people will start to want more of a story to what they are buying. Here at Nantucket Looms you can know who made your handwoven throw and customize it based on your color palette.

A Nantucket Looms designed room featuring our Slater wool rug in Natural.

Nantucket Looms uses our Bora Bora jute in this fresh sunroom.

How do your company values align with Merida’s?

Besides loving the look and quality of Merida’s products, Nantucket Looms shares Merida’s same values of craftsmanship and the integrity of our materials. And similar to Merida who has been in business for 30 years, we too are dedicated to our local economy by employing people year-round since 1968.

In your expert opinion, which of our woven in USA collections do you like the most?

We are drawn to the Tissage Collection since it most closely resembles the Nantucket Looms handwoven textiles that we are known for. Simple, yet classic weave structures that represent timeless style.

Bonpoint, from the Tissage collection.

Linea, from the Tissage collection

Handwoven cashmere throws by Nantucket Looms.


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