Designer Emma Gardner creates beautifully designed rugs and home accessories that feature nature-inspired patterns. A member of the RUGMARK Foundation, a global non-profit organization working to end child labor, Emma Gardner creates her vibrant rugs from her Litchfield, CT, studio. Emma recently took some time off from her busy schedule to answer some questions for us.
CasaSugar: You started your career as an illustrator. Is there a connection between your illustrations and your rug designs?
Emma Gardner: The style of illustration I do is very color-focused and tends to be quite graphic. I definitely think that sensibility manifests itself in the rug and textile designs I do.
CasaSugar: How did you get involved with RUGMARK?
Emma Gardner: I got involved with RUGMARK when I first thought of making rugs. I knew child labor was an issue where we'd be getting the rugs made, and had heard about the great work they do. I contacted them to find certified mills and from the large list they gave me I was able to find mills whose work quality is excellent and with whom we love to work.
To see some of Emma's rugs, and to hear more about her work,
CasaSugar: What elements are currently inspiring your designs?
Emma Gardner: Lately I've been focusing on abstract elements in nature. A rug I just designed for next year is inspired by a shell I found this Summer, for example. I have also been playing with a palette of rich neutrals, gray blues, and light purples, and sometimes I get inspiration from the colors themselves.
CasaSugar: Your pillows and throws are very geometrically patterned, which seems a departure from some of your rug designs. How did you decide on these patterns?
Emma Gardner: You noticed! These designs were actually heavily influenced by the particularities of the material I wanted to work with, Sensuede. I loved the feel of the fabric, the colors they offered and the fact that it is made with a good percentage recycled material. I really enjoy the challenge of designing for a specific medium and manufacturing process. In this case, everything had to be quite simple and geometric because they were being sewn individually.
CasaSugar: What colors do you gravitate toward? What patterns?
Emma Gardner: I hate to narrow it down since I love so many colors and think they all have the potential to look beautiful in combination, but I do find myself unerringly turning to greens, even when I try not to. There are so many of them to love. Patterns could be anything, although I tend not to like things too regular or too small-scale, though I'm sure there are exceptions. I think I'm more influenced by color than pattern so if the color wows me I am not so fussy about whether the pattern is abstract, old-fashioned, or literal.
CasaSugar: What do you see on the horizon for your company? Any new mediums you’ll be working in?
Emma Gardner: I want to keep working on textiles of all types; upholstery, outdoor, whatever. I am continuing to do my illustration and hope that one day in the near future we'll be able to incorporate that into some interesting and different surfaces. We will also be announcing at least two licensing deals in the coming months.