Revolutionising rugs and bringing his bold aesthetic to fabrics, Farr’s vibrant brand is an institution
When Christopher Farr co-founded his eponymous rug company with Matthew Bourne in 1988, the demand for the decorative knotted or flatweave rugs with which it is synonymous was in the doldrums. ‘The market was split between antique styles and department store goods,’ recalls Farr. ‘This left out anyone who loved high-quality, well-crafted, creatively designed carpets.’ Undeterred, Farr and Bourne opened their first showroom in London that year. Farr, who studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, became enamoured with textiles on a trip to the Peruvian Andes in 1975. He felt that the region’s colour-saturated cloths packed just as much of a visual punch as abstract expressionist Mark Rothko’s colour-drenched canvases.
Initially stocking only antique rugs, Christopher Farr began displaying contemporary options in 1990. Despite the economic recession then, the latter proved a hit. A sellout show of rugs made with Royal College of Art students in 1991 kickstarted a slew of collaborations, including ones with fashion designers Romeo Gigli (in association with Cappellini), Rifat Ozbek and designers Kate Blee and Allegra Hicks.
The turn of the millennium marked the start of new chapters: the shop moved from Primrose Hill to Westbourne Grove – then London’s key design hub, and, says Farr, ‘the seed of what became the London Design Festival’. That year, it founded Christopher Farr Cloth with Michal Silver (once a designer for Mulberry). Beginning with hand-printed textiles and wallcoverings, the company later added historical offerings, with rug designs by Bauhaus supremo Gunta Stölzl. In 2012, it issued rugs by The Omega Workshops (founded by Bloomsbury Group members) and, soon after, ones by Bauhaus artists Anni and Josef Albers.
Asked what makes a pattern successful, Farr says, ‘ We just make things we love by people we admire.’ Rugs and textiles, he believes, should be tools for selfexpression. christopherfarr.eu From top ‘Meander’ linen by Anni Albers in ‘Hot Pink’, £120 per metre. Christopher Farr with some of the brand’s designs. ‘Chan Chan’ rug, from £590 per square metre