Comprised of 34 original rugs, plus an additional five that are designed exclusively for stairs, Atelier 2020 showcases the beauty of natural yarns across a wide range of styles and construction. From dobby-woven rugs that feature an exquisite hand-stitched brocade to richly textured tufted rugs to sophisticated Jacquard weaves, each rug is made to order in Fall River by the very craftspeople who helped develop the line’s signature techniques.
Since Merida first launched Atelier in 2018, the approach to the luxury line has transcended the idea of a single collection. As CEO and owner Catherine Connolly says, “Atelier is a vision of what is possible when you combine inventive design with deep knowledge of textiles and mastery of technique. Atelier 2020 is the culmination of years of research and development, but more importantly it is the result of a team of talented designers and expert weavers who are dedicated to their practice and continue to challenge themselves, and one another.”
In spite of the challenges imposed by the pandemic over the past nine months, the Merida team collaborated more closely than ever on the new collection. “You can see it in the details,” says Catherine. “There is a soulfulness to everything, from how the yarns are blended to the artful construction. So much thought went into every decision to create something unparalleled that no one else is doing. That is that spirit of invention that defines Merida as a company, and, I believe, our future as an industry.”
Merida’s design team in Fall River, from left to right: Barbara Schnegg, Gabrielle Ferreira and Daudi Nabaasa
The inspiration for Atelier 2020 started with Merida’s Artistic Director, Sylvie Johnson, who envisioned a collection that would draw from the art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance and the cultural dialogue of the Ottoman Empire. “The Renaissance was a time of discovery, when artists and artisans were on equal footing,” says Sylvie. “It is a way of thinking that takes ancient traditions and art forms as a starting point to create something entirely new.”
That spirit of discovery and invention is on display in the new collection, which showcases unconventional weaving methods as well as new yarns like silk wool, alpaca, and multi-felted merino wool. For the past three years, Sylvie and the team have been innovating processes and techniques, from making their own yarns to completely rebuilding heritage looms in order to introduce artisanal handwork into the mechanical process. “We’re bringing the focus back to the beauty of the materials and sophisticated technique,” says Sylvie. “You can feel the spirit of the maker in every stitch.”