One Love: Designers join forces to create striking handmade carpets for children’s charity

The collaborative campaign has brought together artisans from nine countries

Atitlan Dawn by Guatamala's Regina Davila. Courtesy Hands Carpets
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A collection of 10 handmade carpets, called One Love, gives form to the idea of taking a unified stand against the sweeping effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nine designers and architects from nine countries across five continents came together to create the series of distinctive designs, which were brought to life by Hands Carpets. The company uses non­allergenic wool from New Zealand, fine bamboo silk made from renewable forestry and hand-dyed yarns to craft high-quality carpets that line the floors of some of the most recognisable buildings in the world, including Burj Al Arab, the White House and The Plaza in New York City.

Hands Carpets also supports initiatives that work towards the welfare of the carpet-making community and eradication of child labour. Its artisanal wool rugs, kilims, dhurries and contemporary hand-tufted carpets are all manufactured in-house and are in compliance with Leed green building air quality regulations.

Archipelago by Indonesia's Sheena Poerwantoro. Courtesy Hands Carpets  
Archipelago by Indonesia's Sheena Poerwantoro. Courtesy Hands Carpets  

The One Love collection was conceived and curated by Mumbai architect Padmini Pandey and enabled by innumerable discussions over transcontinental video calls. The carpets are hand-tufted in wool, bamboo silk and botanical silk, and each one-off piece takes up to 10 weeks to craft and retails at Dh14,700.

A part of the proceeds from the collection's sale will go to Project Mala, a programme dedicated to the education of children. The sale of each carpet will sponsor a year's primary education of one underprivileged child living in and around the carpet­-making centres of India.

"We, as architects and designers, have the power to shape and mould societies," says Pandey, who founded her eponymous architecture and interior design company in Mumbai in 2011, after spending five years honing her craft in Italy. "We must exercise this power of design to contribute to society's welfare. When creativity is used in the case of adversity, it empowers the concept of humanity rising above all odds."

The nine designers, who were invited to reimagine the eternal but common elements of the sky and the sea, come from all corners of the world. In addition to Pandey, they are: Pamela Caspani from Australia; Regina Davila from Guatemala; Sheena Poerwantoro from Indonesia; Luisa Scanu from Italy; Karla Celorio from Mexico; Katia Santillan from Peru; Svetlana Selivanova from Russia; and Tuna Meier from Turkey.

These rich geographical influences shape the carpets. From vividly coloured Australian reefs and the complex patterns of Russian ice fractals to the contemporary icons of Italian architecture, each carpet speaks of its designer's distinct cultural make-up.

Peruvian architect Santillan, who also teaches interior design at the Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas, drew on the small and large mountain ranges of the Andes for her design, creating a colourful yet abstract rendering of her roots. Poerwantoro celebrates Indonesia’s natural heritage and multicultural identity by reimagining her homeland as a vast archipelago simplified into the form of a human fingerprint.

Heart of Queensland by Australia's Pamela Caspani. Courtesy Hands Carpets
Heart of Queensland by Australia's Pamela Caspani. Courtesy Hands Carpets

Celorio references Mexico's rich and diverse terrain, with its beaches, underground sea caves, mountains and volcanoes; while Pandey looked to the holy city of Banaras, where she says the river Ganges and the divinity of Hindu deity Shiva are believed to converge.

While nine of the carpets are solo endeavours and have the same dimensions, the 10th is a collaboration between four designers, Pandey, Santillan, Poerwantoro and Davila, and it breaks form. The circular piece captures the essence and cultural influences of each of the nine designers involved – to become a symbol of ­collaboration, connectivity and cultural unity.

“This tenacity to not just survive but to evolve in the face of adversity is inherently human,” says Ravi Patodia, managing director of Hands Carpets. “One Love is a reflection of the resilient human spirit that is driven by pure artistic instinct.”