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Off the Loom

Our Design Journal

The Art of Textile Design: It begins with the yarn

The art of textile design has always been about combining distinct elements to produce a singular accomplishment.Yarns, materials mixing, plies, and weaves work in harmony to create original designs.   

 At Merida, “Everything begins with the yarn,” shares Sylvie Johnson, Merida’s artistic director. Embedded in this simple observation is the heart and soul of our design point of view.The result is designs that are subtle, minimal, and celebrate the materials.

Elaborating on this material-forward point of view, Sylvie notes  “The yarn has a way of telling you what it wants to be.” So committed is she to this idea that the material becomes almost an extension of herself, driving her inspiration. As a preface to developing an upcoming collection, she carried with her the yarns she was considering—for weeks—and everywhere. From New England to Paris and beyond, Sylvie would take out the yarns to observe them in the quiet shadows of an art gallery, the early morning light on cobblestone streets, an evening stroll along the Seine. In this way, she has grown to truly know the yarns, to understand their potential. The yarns are given the power to define the design, guided by her artistic eye and skillful weaver’s hand. You’ll start to see the influence of this deep connection to the materials in upcoming collections.

Sylvie Johnson (right) with team members in the Fall River workshop 

As one of the design world’s most sought-after textile designers, Sylvie’s path is as rich and textured as her weaving inspiration. Born in Dakar Senegal, Sylvie grew up between West Africa and southern France and studied at Sciences Po, in anticipation of a career in public service. But it wasn’t long before she left Parisian bureaucracy for the art world, and in turn, found her true passion for textiles as a couturier’s apprentice. Since founding her Paris atelier, Sylvie’s instinctive, minimalist style has earned her reputation as the refined designer’s source for textiles.

Sylvie’s direction is adding further depth and complexity, in relentless pursuit of originality. In transforming straightforward yarns through twists, plies, and mixing, the craft of rug making is elevated into an art form. And it’s an art form that you can live with every day. As Sylvie puts  it: “A rug is so much more than a decorative element. It has a soul, it grounds your home, your life.”

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