Jun 16

Point of View: Artisan and Machine

“While we don’t exclusively focus on trends we are always observing how the world is changing and as a result what’s next in art, design and fashion.  Attending international shows, scouring flea markets, exploring the latest art exhibitions and observing the latest runway shows are all part of our design process so we stay fresh and relevant.” – Roxanne Hanna, Merida’s Creative Director.

One of the broad cultural trends we are seeing is the merging of technology with traditional forms of making to create design houses and brands that are exceptionally flexible but still put quality and integrity first.

The fact that a rug is woven using a machine shouldn’t necessarily decrease its value versus a handwoven rug. We believe in utilizing the best parts of hand and machine; we maintain the quality of handmade products with the efficiency and capabilities of specialized looms. When used as artisanal tools, machines only expand upon what skilled craftsmen can do.

The joining of man and machine is occurring throughout art and fashion communities as an alternative to mass production and outsourcing. Li Edelkoort of trend forecasting group Trend Union was quoted in a recent Dwell article: “Outsourced production has jeopardized economies and humanitarian standards. Through technology, we might be able to create newer, smaller, more mobile, and more flexible brands. I’m excited that we’re now beginning to see young designers reinventing machines, or recreating old ones to get to the making that they desire. They see the machine as an alter ego, friend, and companion. …Now, we’ll begin to see more customized, made-to-measure tools.”

Edelkoort highlights the machine as companion, with emphasis on the machine’s potential as a made-to-measure tool. Rather than being replaced by machines, designers are using them as specialized tools to go beyond what a human hand can practically do, and be more flexible in the process.

A current exhibit at the MET, Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology also explores this idea. As curator Andrew Bolton explains, “Instead of seeing the hand and the machine as dichotomous, the show attempts to show it more as a continuum or spectrum of practice. I think technology should be used especially by good designers, as a way to enhance their design practice.”

One of the inspirations for the exhibition, a Chanel haute couture wedding dress designed by Karl Lagerfeld combines the hand and machine made. A pattern drawn by Lagerfeld was digitally rendered and intentionally pixelated. The resulting pattern was then applied to fabric and enhanced with thousands of hand applied gemstones, pearls, and more. Photo © Nicholas Alan Cope

From left to right, these dresses contain an increasing number of machine made elements, yet each is as striking as the last. Yves Saint Laurent (’69-’70), followed by two from Iris Van Herpen (’13-’14 and ’10). Photos © Nicholas Alan Cope

Left: Nicolas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga, 2003. Right: Iris van Herpen 2012. Photos © Nicholas Alan Cope

Bolton states, “The show isn’t really about fashion and technology per se; it’s more about techniques and processes. People are so preoccupied by the next thing, there’s a lack of appreciation in the making of fashion.” In essence, the quality, design work, and craftsmanship that go into a garment, textile or rug can be independent from the amount of hand or machine work involved.

Designers can take advantage of technology in subtle and sophisticated ways to differentiate their product from mass production without sacrificing flexibility.

At Merida, the harmony between our design team, craftsmen and weavers elevates our design process and helps us refine developments in a more meaningful way.  This synergy provides the benefits of growing our team here in the United States instead of feeling the constraints of having to move our production overseas. This joining of man and machine is more than a trend; it’s a cultural shift that is here to stay.

May 16

Inventive in the Details – Introducing Decorative Cords

Our new decorative cord collection adds a touch of color and texture to fabric bindings

In December when the Wall Street Journal listed its Top 5 Interior Design Trends, our design team already had a development up their sleeve that was over a year in the making: a new take on old world ornamentation of fringe, cording, and tassels.

We custom sized a linen mélange twisted cord specifically for rugs to satisfy our obsessive attention to detail. These cords, in an array of hues, are the perfect touch to add a dash of texture or a pop of color to tie in a color scheme.

Each of our sisal colorways is a blend of different colored fibers. Decorative Cords can pull out subtle hues in the sisal fibers that might not be noticed at first glance.

In sourcing these trims, we worked with trimming designer Jana Platina Phipps.  Her 20+ years of experience designing and selling trims to the fashion, furnishing, and design industries, as well as her close relationship with an Italian workshop, makes her uniquely qualified to collaborate on trims. She understands how the subtle addition of small, complimentary details can transform a room or a rug.

“What makes trims special is that they add a bespoke element to an interior that can dramatically contrast with ready-made details. They add ‘soul’ to decorating because the layering of colors and textures created with trimmings give a room a sense of provenance, and if a room is decorated well, it will reflect the quintessence of its owner.

The cording that Merida is introducing is exclusively made in a Northern Italian mill. The 90-year-old factory has a tradition of making trimmings that combine the art of engineering with luxury materials and handwork. These twisted cords, made of exquisite linen yarns, dyed in subtle, natural colors, are customized to fit the manufacturing process and design aesthetic of Merida. So, in addition to a handmade rug that speaks to your taste for fine things, you will have a small Italian story to add to your interior tale.”

Made in Italy. Hand sewn and finished in Fall River, USA.

See all colors >


May 16

Stop by during Legends

Please join us during Legends at our new showroom at Harbinger by Hand for wine, cheese, conversation, and a chance to learn about what we’ve been up to at Merida.

Check out our new collection with Ashe + Leandro of woven suede and sisal rugs, peruse the rest of our portfolio, and hear about upcoming launches.

Or just take it easy with Harry and Fred.

via @joeyluke on Instagram

We will be pleased to see you at Harbinger by Hand

752 N La Cienega Blvd.

Tuesday May 3rd – Thursday May 5th

10AM – 6PM


For more info,

Apr 16

The Story Behind the Stairs: Naomi Watts’ Apartment by Ashe+Leandro

photo: Douglas Friedman/Architectural Digest

Last month Architectural Digest featured Naomi Watts’ NYC apartment renovation project designed by Ashe + Leandro. During this project Ashe + Leandro came to us to create a bespoke runner on a unique set of stairs. The motif was derived from our collaboration with the duo on a new line of hand-woven sisal and suede rugs.

Both the runner and the new collection were inspired by vintage Tuareg rugs. Since a handwoven rug would obviously not be appropriate for a lengthy runner on a curving staircase, we created a versatile motif in wool that makes a bold statement while also serving as a neutral.

We started by recommending a wool woven construction similar to some our Tailormade rugs. Tailormade is a popular choice for stair runners due to its durability and low profile. Working with the Jacquard loom allowed us to weave exactly the size we needed for each individual stair, in-house, with minimal waste. The field was a blend of two colors of undyed wool, our Fawn and Beige. The motif was undyed wool in the color Loam, a dark earthy gray with a hint of brown.

Since the project was a new renovation, we started with the staircase architectural plans. Working from the plans allowed us to design a rug section to fit each specific stair. Upon visiting the site we realized that the built staircase differed from plans and the builder had made an onsite change to flare out the bottom four stairs. Our Service and Installation Director Bob Margies worked with Ashe+Leandro and our textile designers to make the motif just the right size to fit on the risers and determine exactly how much total material to weave.

Bob Margies and Reinaldo Leandro determined that tailoring the margins to stay consistent as the steps widen, rather than using a standard runner width, was the best option for finishing the rug. Margies mocked up the layout with painter’s tape to confirm the concept.

Material for each stair was cut out and installed individually by one of our trusted installers. As with all of the installation projects we manage, Margies personally qualified him. Adding to the challenges was the fact that the client had come in on a redeye flight the morning before the install, so we needed to work quietly for several hours.

The install went smoothly and all parties were thrilled with the results. As Margies put it, “Working with the right people makes it easier. To have every step cut, hemmed, shaped, and installed on site — not a lot of companies have this ability or expertise. I can’t stress enough the advantages of including us at the beginning of a project. With our carefully vetted network of installers and our 20 years experience in weaving we can help you realize your design vision and expand your idea of what’s possible with rugs and installations.“

View the Ashe + Leandro for Merida collection >

Get in touch: | 617.464.5400