Following a 2015 Ultimate Portfolio Graduate interview with Ruth Lazerson of Ruthie L. Designs, today we are thrilled to bring you an inspiring catch up with Ruth and her ongoing design journey. Below, Ruth shares on her her gorgeous nature-inspired rug collection, her passion for ethical design, and an exciting manufacturing collaboration.
- Could you share a little on your design journey since our last catch-up?
So much has happened since we last spoke! I’m still designing rugs – in fact I’m going to start designing my 2019 collection in the next few months. My 2018 collection is currently being produced in India and will be launched early next year. My first collection is going to be officially launched at the Décor + Design show in Melbourne in July. I think when we spoke in March last year I was waiting for the first rug to be completed. Since then I have had sixteen rugs produced which make up my first and debut collection – “THE SECRETS OF NATURE”:
The rugs are all produced in India which means that I’ve had to do quite a bit of travelling from Australia to India as well this past year! This month I also opened a showroom, as I needed to have somewhere to display the rugs and where designers could come and bring their clients to have a look and actually see and touch the rugs themselves. We work with a new rug software so the rugs are fully customisable and made to order. It’s a small space but I really love it!
- Can you tell us a bit more about THE SECRETS OF NATURE collection?
THE SECRETS OF NATURE is inspired first and foremost by my love of nature and its beautiful patterns. Nature for me is both rugged and transient and I wanted to capture these aspects in the collection. THE SECRETS OF NATURE comprises all this in three smaller collections – RUGGED comprises six designs that reflect the rugged part of our natural environment and TRANSIENT comprises six designs that capture the transient part of nature. The final four designs are the ELEMENTS of nature – water, fire, air and earth. You can view the collection catalogue here!
- Do you have a favourite piece in your collection?
My current personal favourite is Fragile Wings. I’ve chosen to do it as a large 2.5m x 3.5m rug in gorgeous silvery and grey tones which fits right in with the Nature Luxe trend predicted for 2017. It has a soothing colour palette in neutral tones and soft, shimmery finishes with metallic and pearlescent accents. This trend also looks to hand-crafted elements to create a blend of simplicity and luxury. The materials I’ve chosen for Fragile Wings are a combination of wool and silk with a high and low pile height to create texture and movement within the rug. The wool with its coarser more matt finish and the silk with its stunning soft sheen contrast to bring the design with all its movement to life.
- How would you describe your work, and what inspires you?
My work is still very abstract and highly textural and this is a constant challenge as I want to try and capture this texture in my rugs. I still take hundreds of photographs of anything and everything, especially outdoors. I’m inspired by the world around me and things I love like art, textiles, outdoors and the natural environment, books, found patterns, travel and music to name a few.
- We’d love to hear more on your passion for ethical design how that factors into your work…
When I started looking for manufacturers to produce my rug designs in India and Nepal I became aware of the high number of children in weaving communities in these and other countries in South Asia who are forced to work as many as eighteen hours a day to weave rugs intended for export markets. Despite laws prohibiting it, many of these children are subject to malnutrition, impaired vision, deformities from sitting long hours in cramped loom sheds, respiratory diseases from inhaling wool fibres and wounds from using sharp tools. I was both horrified and devastated. My manufacturer who luckily shares the same values as me suggested we join Goodweave, a not for profit international organisation that is trying to eliminate child labour in the carpet industry.
Once children are freed from the looms, Goodweave makes every effort to reunite them with their families. In addition to child rescue and rehabilitation, GoodWeave also runs a number of programmes that facilitate the prevention of child labour and promote the healthy development and education within weaving communities. Such programmes include day care and early childhood education, school sponsorship for children of adult weavers, adult literacy programs and even health clinics.
A Goodweave certified rug ensures that every stage of the rug production process is transparent and therefore free of child labour. Also, as a Goodweave certified business, a portion of every rug I sell goes towards this great cause. I think as product manufacturers it is our social responsibility to ensure that these beautiful items we love to have in our homes are made conscientiously and ethically. You can read more about my partnership with Goodweave here.
- Looking forward what are your major goals over the next couple of years?
My first priority is to bring out a new collection each year – that in itself is a challenging task! I’m currently developing some new embroidery collections for homewares and would also love to do an international trade show!
- Would you recommend the Ultimate Portfolio Builder to anyone else looking to grow their design portfolio?
Absolutely! I think what I took away from the UPB was the knowledge that I could do anything I set my mind to do! I really learned how to push myself out of my comfort zone. I’m also still in touch with some of the wonderful designers I met on the course.