Room For Imagination: A Conversation with Mark Cunningham, Part 1
“Like an art gallery, you can walk at your own pace through the experience of these rugs and each rug has its own moment.”
— Mark Cunningham
Last month we opened the new Merida Showroom at the New York Design Center. The space was designed by Mark Cunningham, a long-time Merida client who is among New York’s top interior designers. We sat down with Mark and his Design Director, Alex Gaston, and designer Amanda Ellis, to talk about the concept behind the space, collaborating with Merida, and the shared values behind our long-time partnership.
This is part one of a two-part interview.
With the new showroom, what experience are you looking to create for Merida and its clients?
We didn’t want it to be a typical rug showroom with stacks of rugs. You’re not immediately inundated with art and colors and textures. The idea was to create a gallery-like setting where you can journey through the rugs, and this space lent itself perfectly to that. The showroom spans the width of the building, so we intentionally kept the space open and continuous, emphasizing the length of the room and the natural light.
When you enter the showroom, you’re facing the windows and the rugs are along the interior wall so you don’t see them until you’ve entered the space. So there’s an element of surprise when you see the rugs and how they’re displayed.
The rugs are hung along the wall like works of art. What was the thinking behind that?
Like an art gallery, you can walk at your own pace through the experience of these rugs and each rug has its own moment. You can appreciate the rugs from afar then when you get up close there’s so much going on. You have the experience of seeing it for yourself, and then hearing Merida’s team explain the process and the yarn choices, everything that goes into them, you appreciate it even more. And because the space is so minimal it pulls your focus to the details of the rugs.
There are layers to how you experience a work of art. There’s the overall image, and there’s the hand and the detail that goes into it. These rugs have to be experienced by people on all of those levels. Even the dyeing of the yarn is an interesting story, how each yarn picks up color differently, which becomes part of the design of the rug and the feel of it… as you get closer, there’s more and more to see.
These rugs were designed by artists and then crafted by artisans. The goal of the showroom was to present them in such a way that they are given the respect and the attention that they deserve as fine art pieces.
How does the space work as a setting for design meetings?
We installed marble credenzas throughout the showroom for displaying yarns and samples and laying out schemes during design meetings. They’re positioned along the windows so Merida’s clients can experience the colors and textures of the natural yarns in the best light. It takes you out of that business setting of sitting down at a table or a conference table and provides a more creative workspace where the client and the designer can feel like they can be part of the process.
I was here yesterday when a design client came in and it was great to watch the Merida team pulling out samples and showing the yarns. They put together a color story for the client right on the spot.
What do you love most about the showroom design?
I just love that the space has no boundaries. For instance, what if at one point in time all the rugs were the same color, just different designs? There are so many ways that the space can evolve. It’s a true canvas that could be anything at any time.
Watch for the second installment of our two-part interview in the coming weeks.
Visit our gallery at the New York Design Center, Suite 500, or call 646.293.6681 to schedule a consultation.