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532 Annette St
Toronto, ON, M6S 2C2
Canada

4169349771

CREATIVE MATTERS INC.

INSPIRED FLOOR AND WALLCOVERINGS

Our mission is to design and create exceptional, original, high quality and ethically produced floor and wallcoverings

Narrative Threads

Need rugs. Must travel

Lydia Stone

Carol-Nepal-Creative-Matters.jpg

Rug designer may not sound like a career path that involves a wide variety of international travel but at Creative Matters it surely does. Our President Carol Sebert stopped counting at 50 countries, and Vice President Ana Cunningham said she just knows that her business travel has covered five continents. As in many jobs there are trade shows to attend, but what really racks up the passport stamps are the trips we make to supervise production - and later installation - of our rugs.

We create beautiful rug designs and then meticulously manage their production to guarantee a perfect product. As soon as there’s any suggestion that the production will benefit from a personal visit, we set one up.

Many of the senior staff have been to Thailand because our handtufted rugs are made there. Creative Matters has produced hundreds of rugs at the mills we work with. We trust them to weave the best products but every so often a project arises that needs special attention. Vice President Ali McMurter’s trips to Thailand included supervising the rugs for the Faena Hotel in Miami and the massive carpet for the Bergdorf Goodman jewelry salons in New York.

What issues did you need to address for the Faena rugs?

We needed to verify that the red silk was contrasting sufficiently with the red wool - and that the handling of the very fine details would allow them to be represented clearly in the carpet - as there was not enough time for sampling on several of the pieces. We also wanted to ensure that the stripes in the multicolour rug matched the widths of the floorboards in the same room.

Ali travelled to the mill in Thailand to verify the very specific detail requirements in this rug for the Faena Hotel.

Ali travelled to the mill in Thailand to verify the very specific detail requirements in this rug for the Faena Hotel.

And for the Bergdorfs carpet?

We wanted to achieve a particular balance between the light and dark greys so that they flowed nicely together. Greys can be tricky and because this was such a large piece it was worth a visit to make sure everything went according to plan.

The Bergdorf Goodman carpet that required Ali to travel to Thailand.

The Bergdorf Goodman carpet that required Ali to travel to Thailand.

What happens when you visit the mill in Thailand?

I meet the team - the owner, project manager, production manager, members of the artwork department, dye masters, map-makers, tufters, mechanics, finishers, etc. We discuss other projects we are currently working on and how we can continue to improve workflow. We also review production developments and past projects - what worked well and where there was room for improvement.

What do you always take on a business trip?

iPad - for photos, videos, emails and notes; I use it like a visual diary for communicating while on different sides of the planet. I also pack a scarf - for sleeping on the airplane, covering up when it’s cold or shading myself from the sun; chocolates, as gifts for the people we visit - we have a wonderful chocolatier nearby our studio in Toronto, and it’s always nice to bring a taste from home to share.

What else can you say about travel at Creative Matters?

Our work takes us to many different places in the world, and my biggest thrill is in being able to connect people around the planet by sharing beautiful craftsmanship and design.

Carol says two of her most exciting destinations were Kathmandu, Nepal (where she has been at least 15 times) and London, England (when we created 29 rugs for the Canadian High Commission).

Why do you go to Nepal?

There’s nothing like being with people in the same room, discussing issues as well has having fun together. I also go so I can better understand the culture of Nepal. These are hard working spiritual people, and the better we know each other the better we can work through any hurdles.

Carol in Nepal with some of the weavers who handknot our rugs.

Carol in Nepal with some of the weavers who handknot our rugs.

As well as working with mills for our handknotted collection rugs, have you been to Nepal to supervise a client project?

My first trip to Nepal (1995) was to oversee a large residential project that had multiple pieces. The samples had been successful so I wasn’t really worried about the production. The visit was more to learn the process of handknotting, the challenges of the dyeing and design interpretation, and the importance of the washing and finishing stages.

What are the kinds of issues you work to resolve when you are in Nepal?

For our collection rugs, it can be to make sure the colour balance is correct as changes to the samples can be made while there. In person we can have candid conversations regarding timing issues or price concerns much more effectively than via email or Skype.

What are the top three things you take on a business trip?

Noise cancelling earphones for the long plane rides and a very small watercolour painting set with paper cut to 3” x 5” so I can sketch and paint in my spare time. Also I pack lightly so I can always stick to carry-on luggage.

Culturally, what are some big differences between North America and Nepal?

In some ways, everything feels different. The tradition of religion within daily life - for example, the everyday visit to walk around the temple and the passing of the prayer wheels three times clockwise. The observance of the various holidays have a spiritual context which seems to have been lost in North America. On the other hand, we have a lot in common - we are all people who love our families, take care of our elders and our children, and base our relationships on trust. When I first went to Nepal I was struck by the differences, but on subsequent trips, I became much more aware of the similarities.

Why did you go to London?

The Canada House project required two trips. The first was to measure some of the spaces for the rugs including the staircase which was quite complicated. The second trip was to see the final result and to be there for the opening when the Queen toured the facilities.

The finished staircase runner that required precise measurements by Carol in London.

The finished staircase runner that required precise measurements by Carol in London.

Design Development Director Anna Panosyan and Senior Designer Sandra Ciganic-McKinney went to India in 2018 to supervise production of 21 handloomed rugs for the Kimpton Saint George hotel in Toronto.

What were the issues that required your attention?

(Anna) Because plaid designs are not widely used in this particular style of carpet making and because a smooth colour transition was integral to the desired look and texture, we went to the mill to help perfect the set-up of the loom. This took several days.

Anna (right) supervising the set-up of the loom in India.

Anna (right) supervising the set-up of the loom in India.

Culturally, what are some big differences between North America and India?

(Sandra) The journey from our hotel to the mill was a crazy experience - with bikes, motorcycles, pedestrians, cows, goats, etc. and no stop lights! All kinds of beeping and navigating around. But not at all an angry experience, just a controlled chaos.

(Anna) At the mills we visited we encountered only men - weavers, sales staff, owners. All were men and we only spoke business with men. Women stayed inside the house and weren't part of the business dialogue.

In India the traffic congestion can feel a bit overwhelming for your average Toronto rug designer.

In India the traffic congestion can feel a bit overwhelming for your average Toronto rug designer.

What are the top three things you take on a business trip?

(Sandra) my hair gel, a drawing that my daughter made for me years ago so I “wouldn’t miss her too much,” and my notepad - not only for meetings but also because being away gives me inspiration for designs, so it’s a good place to sketch or note new ideas.

Culturally it can feel rather surprising to see goats wearing hoodies in India.

Culturally it can feel rather surprising to see goats wearing hoodies in India.

While Ana has travelled the world for our clients’ rugs, she says her recent trip to Paris for a confidential client was one of the most rewarding.

Why Paris?

I went to Paris to review the scope of a project in person with the client and architect, specifically to confirm the samples for each of the areas. We made final adjustments to colour and reviewed floor plans and rug placement. The opportunity to meet a client in person after months of correspondence via email really does allow everyone involved to get a better sense of the final vision for the space.

Culturally, what are some notable differences between North America and Paris?

The unforgettable architecture. I didn’t have much time to explore, but the area we stayed in really offered a wonderful snapshot of the city and the liveliness within it.

A Paris scene that really appealed to Ana.

A Paris scene that really appealed to Ana.

What are the top three things you take on a business trip?

In order to prepare for the fast pace that will greet me once I land, I really look at the flight experience as an opportunity to kick-back. I download and catch up on my favourite podcasts (such as the classic This American Life and new fave Invisibilia); I dab an essential oil blend (lavender and camomile) on my wrists to relax; and use a mineral water face mist, especially for long haul flights. It can get incredibly dry in the cabin and this just gives my skin the refreshing kick it needs.

While she has travelled widely to check on projects, Project Manager Clémence Hardelay finds her bi-annual trips to Hong Kong some of the most fascinating.

Why do you to go to Hong Kong?

My trips to Hong Kong are to develop the market in South East Asia. While there, I work with Serena Lam, our Far East Sales Manager, and we try to concentrate as many meeting as possible in two and a half days. Last April I had 15 meetings including a lunch and learn session.

Clémence presenting to interiors professionals in Hong Kong.

Clémence presenting to interiors professionals in Hong Kong.

Culturally, what are some big differences between North America and Hong Kong?

The difference between Hong Kong and North America is not as dramatic as between mainland China and North America, but I would say that in Hong Kong, prospective clients can be very tough when it comes to negotiating pricing since they have such easy access to cost effective products. As a result, we focus on high end clients who see the value in the level of service and the product quality we offer. Another difference is in taste and colours. Florals are quite popular for hotels and banquet rooms. This is something we don’t often see in North America.

What else would you like to say about your experiences travelling for Creative Matters?

I enjoy meeting new people, discovering different cultures and visions, as well as the teaching involved in giving presentations. The general interest and excitement over our samples and completed projects is also very rewarding.