This informal duo of Łódź artists have been designing unique, unusually shaped carpets since the year 2004.
A carpet with Swarovski crystals put together like a jigsaw puzzle, cut out like delicate lacework? One would think that such ideas are nothing more than phantasies. However Agnieszka Czop (b. 1973) and Joanna Rusin (b. 1976) effortlessly realized these concepts. Not only did they make single, handmade specimens, but their designs were also implemented into mass production.
It was out of boredom that he two graduates of the Faculty of Fabrics and Clothing of the Łódź Academy of Fine Arts created their first carpets. Bored with a market which offered chiefly very conservative designs, the duo decided to go beyond the typical canons of floor fabric design. Their carpets inspire the imagination and enable the users to design their own patterns. Agnieszka Czop’s and Joanna Rusin’s creations are interactive toys as well as tools that may be used in the creation of personalized spaces. In this way the two designers consider their rugs as something more than just home furnishing items.
They are toys, sculptures, pieces of jewelry, they are objects inside interiors," said Joanna Rusin in an interview for the magazine Czas na Wnętrze.
After Czop and Rusin completed their studies they began to work for the Dywilan company in Łódź, and from the beginning their designs were very successful. The series of carpets-jigsaw puzzles was started by Pastylki [Pills; 2004], a design made especially for children. The rugs consist of a felt base with cut-out openings in which one may fit coloured discs. The choice of colours and the arrangement of the pills are entirely up to the user and they may be changed at will.
In 2004 Pastylki were distinguished with the Prodeco emblem and the Good Pattern 2004 award granted by the Institute of Industrial Design. The magazine Elle Decoration named the newly formed duo the title of Best Young Designer, enabling Czop and Rusin to participate in the Talents – International Young Designers exhibition in Frankfurt (2005).
The two creators from Łódź have been quick to come up with new projects. The carpet Cars has cut out openings in which one may fit coloured cars and have based several other designs on the same principle, from folk hotspurs (Koguty [Hotspurs], 2005) to animals (Animals). All of the projects from this series are based on simple, sharp juxtapositions of colours.
The repurposing of used fabric is what distinguishes Czop’s and Rusin’s versatile works and lends them a certain kind of homogeneity. They juxtapose thick, woolen felt in natural shades with dyed, felted, layered and glued highlander’s cloth.
Felt is nice to look at and touch, but it is also very plastic. It enjoy working with it. It may be cut, formed, dyed, one may print or embroider on it," explains Joanna Rusin.
The Łódź designers often merge modern abstract patterns with decorative motifs taken from folk art. Their carpets (Cut-Out, 2006) and coloured vessel mats inspired by folk lacework and cut-outs can also be associated with the ethno trend in Polish design. The popularity of these designs was the reason for which the Łódź duo was invited to participate in the exhibitions Etnodesign (at the Ethnographic Museum in Kraków, 2009) and Polska Folk (during the London Design Festival, 2009). The abstract carpet Pasanka [Striped] is a less obvious reference to folk art. This rug is made from coloured stripes of felt which are combined into a waving form that makes the floor look as if it was vibrating.
The properties of the woolen material enable the artists to constantly change and diversify their patterns. They may emphasize the decorativeness, the unusual optical qualities or the textures of their works.
The possibility of using new technologies and materials allows you to think in an abstract way, observes Rusin.
Juxtapositions of dots give decorative fabrics the effect of optical illusion (Op Art). The modern character of Czop’s and Rusin’s works stems from experiments with three-dimensionality, often conducted on fat, succulent felt. The effects may be seen when one takes a look at the carpet Fish (2005) which is composed from strips of fabric that overlap each other like fish scales. On the other hand the rug 3-D (2006) takes the form of a chessboard made from spatial circles. The design “Rings” is based on a similar principle.
Czop and Rusin boldly enrich their fabrics with decorative elements such as jets and brocade. The duo also experiments with other kinds of materials: metal, wood or rivets. Jets (2005) and Glow (2007) were made from grey felt which had coloured Swarovski crystals attached to it. Other works refer to the forms of jigsaw puzzles (Niebo [Sky], 2005) or bring to mind terracotta (Kafle) [Tiles].
The carpets and fabrics of the Łódź duo were presented abroad on many occasions, for instance at the exhibition Polifonia (Madrid, 2011), at the exhibitions from the series Unpolished (amongst others in Brussels, Copenhagen and Neumunster, 2009-2012) or at the Young Creative Poland show during La Triennale di Milano (Milan, 2010). A comprehensive exhibition entitled Zabawa w dywan [Playing Carpets] which focused on Czop’s and Rusin’s existing output was held at the Polesie Art Centre in Łódź in 2010.
They say they have a lot of fun when they design, but their work is expressly an artistic activity. As Joanna Rusin summarized:
Designing carpets may be a way of living, a form of creative fulfillment. We are free to treat carpets chiefly as artistic objects.
The designers’ internet sites: www.agnieszkaczop.com, www.joannarusin.com.
Author: Paulina Kucharska, March 2013
The texts quotes fragments of an interview with Joanna Rusin which was published by the magazine Czas na Wnętrze.