Revo­lu­tion­is­ing rugs and bring­ing his bold aes­thetic to fab­rics, Farr’s vi­brant brand is an in­sti­tu­tion

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Decorating -

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. christo­pher­ 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

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