In November 2015, the Faena Hotel Miami Beach opened to international applause and we were proud to have contributed four rugs to its fantastical aesthetic. As you would expect from the winner of the Best Over-The-Top Luxury award at the recent 2016 Best of the Best Hotel Awards, the rugs excelled themselves in quality, luxe and colour.
The hotel's Art Deco lavish interiors were conceived by Argentinian entrepreneur and artist Alan Faena; Moulin Rouge film director Baz Luhrmann; and Catherine Martin, an Academy Award-winning costume designer. Although it now exudes glamour and glitterati, in its creation the emphasis was on art and craft.
Creative Matters President Carol Sebert - who worked directly with the team at Faena - credits our high quality manufacturing partners who offer a wide variety of production methods for our inclusion in this best-of-the-best project, adding: "We were also chosen for our attention to detail in the patterning. For over 25 years we have developed the expertise to achieve very fine details, so that a rug design remains as close as possible to the artist's original intent."
The 50-foot wool and silk red carpet for the lobby
At a glance: 7' x 50' (2m x 15m) and 15' x 17' (4m x 5m) New Zealand wool and Chinese silk, handtufted in Thailand, level cut pile
The centrepiece of the Faena Hotel extravaganza is the vaulted lobby known as the Cathedral. We wouldn't be alone in suggesting that the 50-foot (15-metre) red carpet is as essential to the stage set ambiance as the Juan Gatti murals and the gold leaf-sheathed columns. (We also created a small accompanying square rug to complete the space.)
As Faena had provided us with border artwork, designer Ashley Solymar first adjusted it for the specific rug sizes, and then printed the pattern details out in full scale to ensure they could be produced with the delicacy required. In a project with this degree of artistic calibre, Carol was particularly careful when selecting the perfect red yarn and when reviewing the samples before the handtufting of the rugs themselves began. And as Carol said, "What a red! It couldn't be brighter or richer."
The red rugs are wool and silk blend. As with any hospitality project, Carol considered the inclusion of silk especially carefully. "Faena needed the rug to have some sparkle. We didn’t want to make any areas 100% silk; it's such a slippery fibre (thus the sheen - the smooth yarn reflects the light and makes it shine) that it's not durable enough for an area with such high traffic."
Horizontal stripes for the Terra Santa Healing House spa
At a glance: 12' x 20' (3.7m x 6.1m), New Zealand wool, handtufted in Thailand, loop pile
The other two rug designs we created with Faena now adorn the 22,000-square foot (1858-metre square ) Terra Santa spa, that occupies the entire third floor of the hotel. Carol finessed Faena's concept for the striped rug herself and said it is the first time Creative Matters has worked in stripes with this level of intense, delicious colours. "The rug actually started as a more casual technique. First we sampled it as a kilim quality (fine flat woven) from India but when the samples arrived, we realized that they were a little too relaxed for the space, so we switched the technique to a very fine loop pile. Because the pile is very flat and low, the rug is still similar to a kilim, but the colour is richer and the 4mm pile is a little more luxurious underfoot."
The rug echos the colours in the chandelier composed of fishing lures. Faena proposed initial colours to us in small fabric swatches along with pantone colours. We then searched our pom (yarn sample) library for appropriate matches.
We sent these poms to Faena to confirm we were on the same page regarding the brightness and intensity of the colours. As with all our rugs, we then ordered samples from the mill to enable us to see every colour in the handtufted form. We were very happy with our choices and forwarded the samples to the Faena team who agreed with our selections.
TERRA SANTA HEALTH HOUSE SPA RELAXATION ROOM
At a glance: 9'4" x 19'10" (Xm x Ym), New Zealand wool, handtufted in Thailand, cut pile with low loop details
"So complex! Crabs, stars, seahorses … everything jumbled up together!" is how Carol described our fourth rug for the Faena hotel. "And it's really terrific how it is a medallion style of pattern but with sea creatures." When Carol visited the hotel in early 2016, she was able to appreciate first hand the joy and delight that had been taken with the finishing touches on every surface. "Then the intricacy of this design made perfect sense."
Faena provided initial artwork but it had to be resized, and the details were too small for rug production. Designer Sarah Stevenson reduced the number of colours from the original while maintaining the integrity of the design. "We were able to get the number of colours down to a whopping 36 - we usually design with a maximum of 12 colours, but this design needed all that colour to achieve the incredibly complex pattern," said Carol.
With three thrilling rug designs to choose between, Carol had difficulty deciding which was her favourite for the Faena Hotel. Eventually she decided on the red carpet runway, "Such drama! And when you enter you look down this dramatic 50-foot rug, your eye is drawn to the windows, the ocean and of course the incredible Damien Hurst mastodon!"