We spoke with Merida textile designer Martin Emlein about the creative team’s vision for the Viamaris collection, the amazing qualities of mohair, and how Sardinian textiles inspired the collection’s patterns and construction.
What was the inspiration for the Viamaris Collection
The design exploration started with the island of Sardinia, off the southern coast of Italy. It’s right in the middle of the western Mediterranean so it has a mix of cultural influences from all over Europe and also Africa. As an island it’s also isolated, so you find very specific motifs used in crafts and textiles. Sardinian textiles inspired us to develop weave structures, motifs and shapes that would translate to the Dobby loom.
How did that aesthetic translate to the construction and choice of materials?
One of the goals of this collection was to introduce a particularly luxurious fiber. Mohair adds an element of exoticism to the collection in addition to being fuzzy and fantastic.
Marmaris and Tangier in Garnet
What makes mohair an ideal material for rugs?
It’s such a beautiful material, shinier than wool, and its softness and fuzziness gives it a lot of character. Mohair also takes dye well, so it’s a really beautiful material to work with.
How does mohair wear and change over time?
Mohair is durable and resilient which makes it a perfect choice for rugs. It’s actually used for velvet theater seating! We developed the collection with the intention that it would retain that fuzzy quality as it wears over time. The rugs are intended to be soft and fuzzy, and over time the rug will bloom a bit.
Where do you see designers using these rugs in their projects?
I think bedrooms are the obvious choice, as well as living rooms. The fuzziness gives the rug a tactile quality that makes the collection really compelling. Of all the rugs we loom in Fall River, I would love to have Viamaris in my home in part because of the mohair.
How would you describe the palette for this collection?
We started with a foundation of versatile colors that designers could use in a range of projects and rooms. To give it a Mediterranean flavor we looked to actual images of towns in the Mediterranean, oceanside villas on cliffs with terracotta tile roofs. We ended up with a palette that is versatile and also translates those natural elements.
Ilios and Sardinia
How does Viamaris advance Merida's portfolio?
Viamaris is an evolution of our Dobby loom capabilities, a sister to our Tissage collection. Tissage focuses on textures, whereas Viamaris is more about patterns. Mohair expands our offering in terms of both fiber and aesthetic because it’s so recognizable as a fine fiber.
In terms of yarn, what's next after mohair?
We’re constantly exploring new fibers and different textures of yarn so I think we’ll see more of that in the future. As we build our yarn library, there’s a lot of tactility to be explored and we’ve seen interest in that from various trends in the industry. The mohair yarn being more textural we may explore that further in future collections.
What inspires you as a textile designer?
For me, inspiration can be conceptual or visual. Nature provides endless inspiration, and visual elements that find their way into your work. Architecture and historic textiles are also big categories for me. It’s not a magical thing, more like research. I love the technical aspect of textile design, manipulating woven structures in order to achieve something unique. Textile design combines technical and visual elements, and that suits me very well.
Have you ever owned a mohair sweater?
I used to! My mom knit it for me. She is actually a professor of machine knitting… she’s the main reason I became interested in textile design in the first place.
Martin Emlein graduated from RISD with a degree in textile design and has been part of Merida’s creative team since 2011.