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Off the Loom

Our Design Journal

Art & Nature: Sylvie Johnson on Portfolio 2021

“Portfolio is a conversation between textiles and the natural world.”

- Sylvie Johnson, Artistic Director

Earlier this month, Merida launched Portfolio 2021, a collection of 14 original rugs that introduce new possibilities in texture and color. We spoke with Sylvie Johnson about the vibrant palette, handmade yarns and inventive techniques that take Merida’s classic weaves in an inspired direction. 

Q: The new colors seem to radiate joy and optimism. What inspired the palette?

Sylvie: The theme for the new collection is the perception of light in nature. Each of us perceives light differently and it is constantly changing, from the light at dawn to sunset to the mirages that appear at midday. This year we introduced six new colors that take inspiration from the effect of light, shadow and movement in art and nature: the shadows cast on a garden wall in Provence, the afternoon light on the rustling leaves on a wooded path, spring blossoms in Japan. The colors bloom within each rug, becoming nuanced with subtle tones of the same color, the effect of how color is picked up differently from one yarn to another. 

Q: How are you using yarns differently in this collection?

Sylvie: We have been plying our own yarns for some time but it is the first time we are using plied yarns in the warp. For example, a ply of linen with undyed wool or twisted wool. The effect adds texture and subtle shading in the ground of the rug.

We are also playing with subtle shifts in color across the rug. If you look at Aura you will see three sections that are connected, creating an ombre effect that evokes the striation of a sunset.  


Aura rug in Versailles

Q: What else sets this collection apart from previous Portfolio collections?

Many of the techniques we are using are closer to what we are doing with the Atelier Collection, particularly with the Jacquard weaves where we are using monochromatic color and layering yarns to create texture.  For example, Dapple showcases nuance of the color by combining thin-felted wool, crimped wool, and twisted wool. This creates a layered effect where the motif seems to float like leaves along a stream. 


Dapple rug in Barragan 

Q: There is a sense of joy and lightness to this collection that feels very timely. Is that intentional? 

This is a time when we all need inspiration from nature and art. With this collection we are creating a conversation between textiles and the world around us. Merida is committed to making beautiful products with a focus on connecting the layers of art and culture to everything we make. We hope that the joy we bring to our practice as makers translates to the finished product, and in turn connects back to the people who will live with our rugs, bringing them joy and pleasure that grows deeper over time.

Experience the beauty of Portfolio 2021 yourself. Contact us for samples, quotes and inspiration for all your projects.

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