Artists and Artisans: An Inspired Collaboration

Merida’s newest collection, Atelier 2022, is a collection of limited-edition rugs inspired by the Postwar Italian Arte Povera movement. Designed and woven under the artistic direction of Sylvie Johnson, each rug transcends the boundaries between art and nature, artist and artisan.

Arte Povera, translated as “poor art,” describes the work of a group of radical Italian artists working in the late 1960s, predominantly in Turin and Rome. Following the mantra “Art is Life,” the Arte Povera artists eradicated the barriers between nature and art, craftsman and artist. The Poveristas also believed that the process of creation, which is interactive by nature and is therefore continually changing, was as important if not more important than the finished work itself. The result was a new visual language that reframed art as a living, tangible experience that is ever-changing and alive to the senses.

“By breaking down the hierarchy between art and craft, the Arte Povera artists were challenging the definition of art itself,” says Artistic Director Sylvie Johnson.

This philosophy is in dialogue with Merida’s design ethos and approach to textiles. Part of that ethos is Merida’s workshop model, which brings textile designers and craftsmen into collaboration as the collection is being developed—testing and re-testing yarn combinations to ensure the designs translate beautifully and durably to the finished works of art.

“We are continually learning from each other and practicing our craft every day,” says Sylvie Johnson, who designed all the rugs in the collection, taking inspiration from various artists who worked under the Arte Povera umbrella. When asked how she translated that inspiration to textiles, Sylive credits the collaboration between the design team and Merida’s master weavers, who bring decades of experience to their practice. “Even the physical act of making the rug, where the weaver becomes part of a chain of gestures that creates the finished piece, becomes part of the rug. Then, the way the rug interacts with the room where it is installed, how the yarns respond to the light throughout the day, means that it is continually changing even after it leaves the workshop. This is why we call it living art, which is what Arte Povera was all about.”

Explore the art-inspired Atelier 2022 Collection online or in person at The Gallery at the New York Design Center, Suite 500.