Imagine our delight in 2017 when New York’s Gachot Studios invited us to create all the floorcoverings for Detroit’s new 129-room Shinola Hotel, one of the many projects that are creating massive renewal in the city. The hotel is a partnership between Shinola, a Detroit-based watchmaker and leather goods manufacturer and Bedrock, a real estate firm. Known for its preservation of craft and the manufacture of timeless well-designed goods, Shinola is a perfect match for our handmade wool rugs.
Working with top craftspeople in four different countries, Vice President Ali McMurter was the project manager at Creative Matters for this project. “One of Shinola's priorities is to commission and showcase premium quality products,” she said. “The contemporary designs and exceptional craftmanship we contributed support the high standards that Shinola fosters within its own operations and community. Our floorcoverings serve as an exquisite backdrop to the beautiful local work showcased throughout the hotel.”
Christine and John Gachot led the design development, and interior designer Cate Mills from Gachot Studios had ongoing conversations with Ali about the ideas for the various spaces. “We would adjust or develop new artworks, colour pom sets and samples accordingly, sometimes trying a few different options at one time,” said Ali. “The Gachot team did an amazing job selecting and perfecting the colours, textures and designs that would work best for each situation. And the Shinola team respected the decisions that were made and fully supported Gachot's vision.”
With 277 rugs in 21 designs, Ali was ably supported by Creative Matters designers Madeleine Baigent, Kayla Bortolotto and Kat Pezzano. In keeping with Shinola’s commitment to quality and authenticity, the rug designs were brought to life in four different countries that specialize in hand weaving: Nepal, India, Afghanistan and Thailand. During this phase, Logistics Manager Julie Baldwin was indispensable in securing their shipment to Detroit in late 2018 for the official opening on January 2, 2019.
97 of the rugs were handknotted in Afghanistan where we were able to participate in a wonderful collaboration between The World Bank, Turquoise Mountain and our fair trade endorser Label STEP. As a result of this cooperation, we were able to employ hundreds of Afghan women for five months. Please see last month’s blog post to read more.
We asked Ali to chose a favourite rug but she said she loves them all because they each have their own special way of contributing to the look and feel of the spaces they are in. “It’s a rare treat to experience such committed support for a talented design team's vision. When you are in the space, you can feel and see the artistry at every level.”