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Sussy Cazalet on designing rugs and wall hangings. «Rothko-meets-Mondrian-meets-Klimt»

How knowing the origin of your pieces helps to create a client experience that surpasses the act of buying something. «You just should care who’s made something and where it’s come from»

Sussy Cazalet on the production chain and the materials she uses

 
Hailing from a family of artists – «my mother’s a painter, my sister’s a painter, my brother’s a poet» – Sussy Cazalet has spent the last two years translating watercolor paintings into bespoke rugs and wall hangings. With formal training in both Printed Textiles and Interior Architecture, Cazalet had an eclectic career spanning design industries before setting up her own design studio in 2014. She describes how «this led to designing furniture and the interest in product».

Cazalet speaks of setting up a production line «so that in ten years’ time, I’m not producing hundreds of plastic rugs every day». On prioritizing the creation of long-lasting pieces made from natural materials; without shying away from the current environmental limitations of importing silk from China and wool from New Zealand to India, where production is based, Cazalet says «I’m beginning to work with nettle fabrics and pushing the artisans I work with to use organic dyes».

What the artist-designer can assert is a production process with a deep interest in people and origin. «going to India to meet the artisans and not just be a third party producer was key», she recalls of spending two months in villages outside Jaipur, meeting with makers and getting in touch with foundations that help women.The provenance of her pieces is such that she can ensure they are made by artisans she’s met, places she’s been, and by setups that help local communities. Sussy’s relationship with the female artisans who make her pieces confirms the close relationship she has with her clients. She tends to attract commissions from people «who understand this and want the process».

Designing for a lifelong impact

«When people ask me to design a rug, I say this rug has got to be something that you want to keep for the rest of your life». Cazalet challenges her clients to commit to making conscious consumer decisions, whilst providing an alternative to buying vintage that supports the design industry and still engages in a form of mindful consumption.

Though her future plans include the design of smaller, more buyable pieces, her large, bespoke rugs, and wall hangings, by their very nature, require involvement from clients that encourages the commission of pieces of longevity. The design process «starts off with photographs, travels, sitting down and watercoloring». With earlier works, including a five-piece ‘Kyoto’ range that launched in 2019, inspired by Isamu Noguchi, George Nakashima, and concepts from Japanese and Brazilian design, Cazalet refers to California and Fifties, Sixties and Seventies Modernism as a point of enduring inspiration with her ideal client space being «an L.A. Schindler or Lautner stye pad».

Lampoon, Kyoto Sun by Sussy Cazalet
‘KYOTO SUN’ wall hanging, by Sussy Cazalet

«Rothko-meets-Mondrian-meets-Klimt»

Characteristic of post-war mid-century modern residential architecture and the Case Study Houses of Los Angeles; spaces designed by architects such as Rudolf Schindler and John Lautner employ the rigorous application of industrial construction methods and materials in domestic settings. Whilst balancing the use of concrete, steel, and extensive glass walls with informal layouts that integrate indoor and outdoor space; providing the opportunity for a large area or room-sized rug to define flexible floor plans. Having spent time in Los Angeles, Sussy also makes reference to the Eames House designed by Ray and Charles Eames as part of the Case Study House Programme; commissioned by John Entenza for Arts and Architecture, is an example of a space that uses rugs to characterize multifunctional areas.

Cazalet’s current pieces take further influence by the abstract shapes found in cubist and expressionist artworks. An amalgamation of styles she describes as «Rothko-meets-Mondrian-meets-Klimt». On designing such large rugs and wall hangings she explains. «I think of big canvases and I think of Rothko’s», referencing Mark Rothko’s Seagram murals. Although commissioned in the late Fifties for the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building, New York; were later gifted to the Tate and displayed as part of a permanent gallery at the Tate Modern. Though Cazalet’s larger pieces out-scale even Rothko’s murals; his work offers an insight into the way in which large artworks, rugs, or wall hangings; can be an architectural tool to define and transform space and «can sit peaceful within Architecture»

Sussy Cazalet’s rug-making process


From conception to completion. Sussy’s design process is a rejection of computer-aided design and technology; and upon receiving a commission, she progresses with two or three meetings with the client. A visit of the space, and a point of reference, something of hers that they like. In between meetings she hand draws designs and recalls «turning up to meetings with these big hand-drawn watercolors». When she gets a really large commission – «my biggest commission was about eight and a half meters». Cazalet unrolls canvas in the garden on rolls of brown paper; and draws her designs to scale with a marker or paintbrush; to make sure the shapes are working with one another. As of January, she has moved her studio to an old barn in Norfolk; where she can start hanging canvases to size and invite clients to see them one to one. 

After the color assignement to her designs; they send them to India to be drawn up in CAD for the first time. The transition to the digital image can take up to ten days to finalize; before CAD drawings are signed off and sent to the makers where they sit at their looms. The silk and wool dyeing process then takes one to two weeks depending on how many colors there are. Made complex by Cazalet’s preference for a technique; known as Gabbeh dyeing whereby each color derive of a range of tones and twisted to form yarn. «There’s never one color in one area. If there’s a green, it might have five greens in it» giving the final piece «wonderful movement of color».

The weaving

Then there is the prepration of the looms and, depending on whether the design is for a flat or hand-knotted weave. This can take between six to twelve weeks. It is only at this point that weaving can begin. «If it’s bespoke I tend to make a sample so that clients can see it in the space beforehand». Adding an additional four weeks to the process. When the finished rugs or wall hangings are rolled out or hung in the client’s space; Cazalet describes how «you are going to feel more than if you just go to a shop; buy something and don’t know who’s designed it».

Whilst the original function of the knotted rug was to serve as a floor covering to protect nomadic populations; as told by art historian and carpet specialist Enza Milanesi in her book The Carpet; from direct contact with the cool earth as they slept; for Cazalet the desire to lie down on one of her rugs is a primitive one; and the intended outcome of a client experience that occurs by virtue of the way in which she works. Today, although Architecture has progressed past a survivalist need for rugs. Whether designed to be atop poured concrete, tiled, marble, stone, or wood flooring. Cazalet imagines «you want to be able to walk into and just roll onto the rug».

Sussy Cazalet

Cazalet set up her studio in 2014, designing interiors & objects and launching a rug and wall hanging collection.  Trained as a classical musician, she pursued a BA in interior architecture at Parsons School of Design NYC.

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

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