Mar 15

GoodWeave: the social impact of choosing quality

How should you evaluate a quality product? We typically look at things like craftsmanship, design and materials used, which are all important values. But when you consider how a product is made there’s a lot more than meets the eye, like the hidden costs at the expense of the environment — and to the people who make the products.

There is growing collective awareness about the social impact of our buying choices: Who provides the labor? Is the product generating fair employment, healthy working conditions, and viable opportunities?

Bora Bora jute seaming in Fall River, MA.

For Merida, the quality equation includes the people who bring our rugs to life — from the field to the workroom to the floor.  As a manufacturer we have a responsibility to the hearts and minds of those who, directly or indirectly, have a hand in producing our products.  We work closely with our global partners to ensure fair labor practices that not only provide jobs but also promote people’s health and growth.

To this end, Merida partners with GoodWeave, an organization that works with rug producers to certify that no child labor is used. We are proud to be GoodWeave’s first jute weaving partner, extending the organization’s scope and reach in Southwest Asia, where we source our jute fibers. All of our jute products are GoodWeave certified, and a portion of the price supports the education of children in rug-making villages in India, Nepal and Afghanistan.

photo © U. Roberto Romano, courtesy of GoodWeave

GoodWeave’s founder, Kailash Satyarthi, won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education. As GoodWeave states, both “have staked their lives on the belief that children – regardless of gender, geography, faith, caste or societal circumstance – belong in classrooms.” Kailash began fighting against child slavery in the 1980’s and founded GoodWeave to continue this mission, to spread awareness around the issue, and to keep customers informed.

In addition to combatting the exploitation of children, GoodWeave also provides rehabilitation, care and educational programs for children they rescue. To date the organization has provided education to more than 11,000 at-risk children in the rug industry.

photo © U. Roberto Romano, courtesy of GoodWeave

photo © U. Roberto Romano, courtesy of GoodWeave

Learn more about how choosing a rug certified by GoodWeave can truly make a difference. It’s just one example of the far-reaching impact of socially and environmentally smart choices—and the importance of factoring people into the quality equation.

Read more about Merida’s partnership with GoodWeave.

View our GoodWeave certified jute rugs.

Bora Bora jute as used by Katie Leede / photo: Phillip Ennis

Feb 15

Katie Leede in the Hampton Designer Showhouse 2014

Nothing is more important for a living space than to be peaceful and energizing for its occupants. Katie Leede brings this spirit to all of her interiors, with a keen eye for reflecting the personality of the client and a globally-inspired and distinctive style. The 2014 Hampton Designer Showhouse was an exciting opportunity for Katie to use her own experiences to shape the design of an airy, idyllic bedroom. We caught up with Katie to find out what makes her tick and to get the scoop on her incredible Showhouse design.

What energizes and inspires you?

I am energized by the light during different hours of the day and the magnificent diversity and creative genius on display in nature. I love traveling to places I have never been before–we are heading to Rajasthan in March!

Rajasthan. Photo by Joe Fox

New York is always inspiring, whether looking at art in Chelsea or getting lost in a button shop on the Upper East Side. There is so much to observe and take in: color, the theater, great performances, walking the streets of Soho, the MET.

I love the idea that we are always changing and shifting, as in the saying,  “You can’t step into the same river twice.”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. Wikipedia / cc

Where did you start when designing your room in the Hampton Designer Showhouse?

photo by Phillip Ennis

I knew we were going to be moving out of our old apartment and there wasn’t going to be room for my daughter’s big Jacobean bed so I thought the showhouse would be a good way-station. This gorgeous, hunk of a bed is full of stories, having been my own teenage bed. The question then became how to make it look chic, fun and appropriate for a breezy Hamptons setting.

How would you characterize the room?

photo by Phillip Ennis

I pretended the house was ours and this room belonged to my well-traveled, brainy, artistic daughter Lucia. Attention is paid to creature comforts–good books, plenty of light to read by, soothing colors and inspiring artwork to delight the senses, and a hang out zone for her and her friends on lazy summer afternoons. The room is a success because of the natural color palette of blues and greens with hot flashes of pink throughout, the warm texture of the jute rug and the fresh mix of heavy and light elements (dark bed/ white sheets) and the new and old (tufted leather couch/furry modernist stools). It’s all topped off with fabulous artwork that elevates the space to the truly magical. Art has a way of doing that.

Why did you choose Bora Bora for this space?

photo by Phillip Ennis

I am addicted to the Bora Bora rug because of its bold, stand-alone texture: it’s hunky and strong yet silky and smooth to the touch–cushy even. I am particularly drawn to the Volcano colorway because it casts a silvery hush over a room. The Merida Smooth Linen borders come in the most glorious colors. I like to go 3″ wide on the borders to add more drama. After the showcase closed, I moved the rug to my own new living room and layered it with a vintage Moroccan carpet and every day is a happy day.

Do you have a favorite vignette in the room?

photo by Phillip Ennis

My favorite spot is the corner sofa area mostly because I was so pleased by how well the Kim McCarty artwork sang there. The moody nude seems to capture the existential angst girls feel–or I certainly felt–during those high school and college years when all is before them and they don’t yet feel comfortable with the mystery of how life is going to play out for them. Her feet are too big for her body, she has yet to grow into herself and yet her vulnerability makes her all the more compelling and beautiful. I imagined a safe setting for her, which made me happy to see come together.

View Bora Bora >

Showhouse photography by Phillip Ennis

Feb 15

Furnishing the RISD President’s House, on NYTimes Home

photo: Jane Beiles for The New York Times

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.

Check out the article in the Home & Garden section!

Feb 15

Made in America: Four companies making a difference

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.

Shinola – Detroit, Michigan

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.

Visit Shinola >

The Urban Electric Company – Charleston, South Carolina

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.

Visit The Urban Electric Company >

Faribault Woolen Mill Co. – Faribault Minnesota

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.

Visit Faribault Woolen Mill Co. >

John Matouk & Co. – Fall River, Massachuetts

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.

Visit Matouk >

All images (c) Shinola, The Urban Electric Co., Faribault Woolen Mill Co., and John Matouk & Co.

View Merida’s Made is USA products >

Watch our Made in USA story >