Q&A with Celerie Kemble

Any time we can talk shop with the multi-talented New York based interior designer, Celerie Kemble, we jump at the chance. Recently we were able to catch up with Celerie in between her holiday preparations with her family and exciting work she is doing on projects that will be unveiled next year. Celerie had natural plant fiber rugs on her mind and gave us some insight into her attraction to them.

Celerie Kemble

Merida: What attracts you to plant fiber rugs such as sisal and jute?
CK: Aside from the sustainability properties, I love plant fibers for their aesthetic. Sisal and jute products are very luminous as their fibers reflect the light off the floor. Plant fibers create a very attractive continuous contrast with wood. They make the room feel cozy, quiet and soft under foot. I also enjoy irregular patterns of natural fibers. In one piece you can get beautiful variations of color, and very minimal but noticeable inconsistencies in fiber tightness and weaves. I have a theory that the eye sometimes gets tired from trying to understand geometric patterns. I feel like if something is gridded, while there is an order to it, it also creates a slight sense of unease or a trapped feeling. So when we look at something that is hand-woven and “imperfect” it’s like looking at the grass or the waves in the ocean or the leaf patterns in bushes. While they all appear uniform, there is not a single one that is the same. There is something very restful and soothing about the millions of inconsistencies and variations that you get from plant fiber products.

Merida: How do you decide if you’ll choose plant fiber rugs over wool, linen, or silk?
CK: Projects that I work on have multiple rooms so I use plant fiber products to add variety. Each room that I work in has a different mood to it and I look for a sisal or a jute rug to set a soothing, quiet mood. I also find plant fiber rugs to be very durable. Sisal rugs take years to show traffic marks and wear-and-tear so I like to use them in heavily utilized spaces like family rooms, living rooms and hallways. I also find the price point to be very reasonable for the quality and durability that you get out of them.

Climb in Nutmeg

Merida: Do you mix rugs by layering?
CK: I will often do a very large sisal rug, almost wall to wall, and then add a decorative wool rug or an antique peace in the central sitting area.

Merida: You are currently involved in a Palm Beach project where you’ll be using some jute and sisal rugs. Tell us more about it.
CK: I chose Cocoon Bell jute, Climb Nutmeg sisal and Nasturtium Weave in Macadamia rugs for this project that is currently in the construction stage. I choose Cocoon Bell for the family room as I really enjoy the soft feel of this product – it’s very silky and smooth.

Merida’s Climb Nutmeg will be in the front room. It’s fun to have a natural color rug with a big bold pattern running through the length of the room.

For the living room I went with seamed Nasturtium weave with a cutout for the fireplace.

Seamed Nasturtium Weave in Macadamia - work in progress shot

Cocoon Jute in Bell

Nasturtium Weave Macadamia

Nasturtium Weave in Macadamia

Merida: Although you’ve been working with Merida for awhile and launched a licensing program with us last summer, how did you initially get to know our products? Why do you keep coming back?
CK: If you’re looking to collaborate and design something creative you want to surround yourself with people who can help you reach that goal. As an interior designer, it’s my job to worry about things that I specialize in. I want to have full confidence in the integrity of the people that I’m working with on things that I’m not that familiar about. I’ve been in the business for a long time but I still don’t know the products as well as the company that’s making them. So to have the team that can share their knowledge, provide quality products, and meet lead-times, helps me make better decisions in the purchasing process. I like that Merida is engaged with designers and understands our right to be picky. It’s nice to work with a company that knows that the devil is in the details and the feeling that we’re going to work on something until it’s perfect.

We will be following Celerie’s Palm Beach project closely and will be sharing more information and photography when it becomes available.

To order Sisal and Jute rugs from Calerie Kemble by Merida Collection, call Customer Solutions at 800-345-2200 or login to Customer Center.


  1. Christine Glines

    I am always concerned with suggesting natural fibers (which I love more than any other carpet) to my clients because of staining. What do you do if, for example, a child spills apple juice on the family room carpet or red wine gets spilled in the living room. I’d love some honest answers about how to handle that and how to ease my clients fears.

    • Hi Christine,

      A few other tips for you:

      I’ve been living with Merida rugs for over a decade – jute, sisal, tufted and flat woven wools – and I find that regular vacuuming is key. Be sure that your client is using a suction-only vacuum (not commercial grade) that does not have a beater bar or brush attachment. Dirt settles at the bottom of the weave construction so it is very important to keep them as clean as any other rugs or carpets.

      After dry blotting, I will dampen a white rag with water and put a drop of clear dishwashing fluid on the cloth rag and wring it out (I use Seventh Generation Free & Clear) and blot again until the stain comes up. Time is of the essence and it’s just like treating a linen covered sofa or a cotton canvas covered dining chair.

      I’ve also found that linen bound rugs are much easier to clean than cotton. Cotton fibers tend to attract dirt. Even though linen may cost a little more, it’s worth it in the long run.

      Hope these extra tips help!

  2. Christine, great questions! To get the best result on lifting stains you have to act fast. Natural fibers are very absorbent and the longer you wait, the harder it’s going to be get the stain out. Fist thing you should do is blott with a white rag/towel for 5-10 minutes. This helps with moisture removal. Then we recommend the use dry cleaning solution called HOST. HOST looks like a sawdust that you pack into the rug spill and let it sit for about 30 minutes, then you vacuum. This will remove rest of the moisture and will take care of the stain. If your stain is still visible you should treat with HOST few more times. For more information on care and maintenance visit our website:

    Hope that helps.