2013 AZ Award Winner: Best Product Design

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ARIA COLLECTION
Manufacturer:
Amala Carpets

Not all carpets are created equal. Some can serve as catalysts for social change (but more on that later). Aesthetically, the Aria Collection is beautiful on multiple levels. First is its inspiration: the stunning complexity of a butter­fly. When magnified multiple times under a microscope, the insect’s metallic-hued wings are in fact comprised of endless rows of organized scales filled with iridescent pigments. That vision inspired Shan Shrestha and her team at Amala Carpets to find a way of replicating the wing’s colour, depth and structure and make these elements visible in the form of a carpet. To do that, they explored dyeing techniques; devised a particular weaving process to simulate the arrangement of the scales; and employed an environmentally sound washing process to preserve the product’s integrity.

They also came up with their own silk. Called Zee silk, it is purely organic and uses a method of hand-reeling that retains the sericin, the protein coating that gives silk its strength. They also used a tie-dye process called Mudmi, where different selections of the silk are dyed multiple times to give it a subtle range of hues.

The result is a carpet where the pile doesn’t lean whichever way it likes; here, it is slightly flat, and all of the strands bend in a singular direction. The shimmer created in the bend reflects light just as would if it were a butterfly wing. And yes, it is exquisitely soft to the touch.

But the Aria Collection is an award-worthy accomplishment on another level. Amala Carpets invested eight years to train a group of women in a rural community outside Bangkok in how to farm, harvest and weave silk – skills that have enabled them to stay at home rather than leave their families to make a living in the city.

THE COMPANY  Founded by Shan Shrestha, Amala Carpets of Toronto is a family business committed to crafting luxury carpets using centuries-old weaving techniques. They ensure that their products are ethical, both economically and in terms of sustainability.  ­

What the jury said:
“The most important thing in design today is finding the right raw materials worldwide and using them in a contemporary fashion, and Amala Carpets is doing this in a fantastic way.” 
– Giulio Cappellini, art director of Cappellini

amalacarpets.com

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