Thursday, September 9, 2010
Creative Matters is excited to announce that we will be participating in an event to raise awareness and funds for the Furniture Bank, a non-profit organization in Toronto that works to provide furniture and household goods to low-income families in the city. In 2009 the Furniture Bank helped over 2,000 families create a furnished home with dignity and this year, they hope to impact 2,400 families.
The event is called Chair Affair, and will showcase the designs of local artists donating their talents and their time to create works of art with ordinary chairs from the Furniture Bank warehouse warehouse. Twenty-nine chairs will be showcased in a silent auction with five of these special chairs being auctioned live.
After much brainstorming and collaboration between the entire team, our chair has been completed and shipped off to the lovely folks at the Furniture Bank in anticipation of the Affair on Thursday October 21st at the Steam Whistle Brewery. Tickets for the event can be purchased here.
Although we can't show you the finished product, here's a couple of before shots of our chair and some insight into our inspiration for the piece. We hope you like it and we hope to see you there!
"The concept for this chair was born from the natural approach that Creative Matters takes when embarking on any new rug design project that we receive.
Each Creative Matters client presents a blank canvas – in this case, a chair. Our aim is to present a beautiful and luxurious product to our client by taking care to work through the processes of design which result in the finest end product available.
"Our chair is upholstered with fine linen and 100% silk rug pieces that were hand-woven in Nepal. The stitching is a whimsical element that represents the early stages of our design process where we sketch concepts or motifs for visual direction. The beautiful fabrics, golden-hued wooden legs, and Dupioni silk buttons are all pieces of inspiration that a client may give us to work from. These elements, delicately layered together, create a very personalized story that reflects how Creative Matters works, in the form of a luxurious, hand-made chair."
Stay tuned for the grand unveiling and help support the Furniture Bank!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
As a regular visitor to the city, CMI co-founder, Carol Sebert gets to see the beautiful parts of this South Asian country but also some of the darker images Kathmandu holds. She says:
"While in Nepal last November, I saw a number of kids living on the streets. It gets cold in Kathmandu in the winter and kids are forced to sleep next to dogs to stay warm. I was struck by this tragic existence and wanted to make a difference.”
According to UNICEF, "Street living children are children who may have lost their families through war or illness, or have been abandoned because they had become too much of a burden, or else ran away from their abusive, dysfunctional, poverty-stricken families and now live alone on the streets. Many poor children are struggling for survival out in the streets, sleeping on makeshift cardboard mattresses in main cities like Kathmandu.”
Our event was a success, raising awareness and collecting over 100 coats to send to Kathmandu with the help of Child Welfare Scheme, U.K.- Nepal who will aid in the distribution of the coats and ensure that the outerwear gets to those in need. Our CWS representative, Jeremy Southon wrote to us this morning with his distribution game plan,
“ We will have them delivered to one of your suppliers so that they can clear it through customs as I will be managing distribution in Kathmandu…Once the clothes have arrived I should put together a clear distribution plan for your approval and then get the clothes distributed in early December when the cold season starts.”
We look forward to an update from Jeremy in the coming months. A special thanks for the huge efforts put forth by staff and students of Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School, Toronto, for taking up our plight and gathering a great number of coats and outerwear. We also warmly thank friends and neighbors of Creative Matters for their donations as well.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Greetings from Creative Matters!
Carol and Ana returned this past weekend from their trip to Nepal. Carol managed to steal a few hours from her busy trip, to visit the Goodweave site where children are taken after being rescued from forced labour in carpet mills. While she was there, she taught an art class for the 33 students who are living there at the moment. After she left, Carol sent the most uplifting email from Nepal - very inspiring! I had to share:
I had such a fun day I felt I had to report right away.
I went to the home where the kids live at Rugmark/Goodweave today with paper, paints (house paint tinted yellow pink and blue) black ink and paintbrushes. The kids were really excited that we were going to have an afternoon of art. I began with them all up on the roof of their home, as it was a gloriously sunny day. We sat in a big circle and started with the ink and did life drawing, which of course, was absolutely hilarious. I got one of them to model and at first they were shy and their poses a bit dull, but one by one (I guess I had about 15 models by the end) the poses became more elaborate. There were lots of judo-like poses by the boys and tiger-like poses from the girls. They all just leapt into painting with marvelous abandon!
I then had them take the black and white paintings and add colour. By this time, the paint was starting to get all over the place, including in my hair as it was quite a flurry - paint pots were spilling, what with 33 kids exuberantly painting... but they were so into it, and so incredibly focused. I've done workshops like this before and there are generally a few goofballs that really can be disruptive, but not these kids - they worked really hard.
After about an hour I wanted to do one larger piece. I wanted them to try working larger so the full sheet that was 24”x36”. I instructed them to paint themselves in a setting that they liked and WOW, the results were amazing. Many of them did houses with the Himalayas in the background with clouds in the sky and big suns. One boy painted the RugMark house that they all currently live in with him on the roof flying a kite; another boy drew himself as almost a cartoon superman type figure in a charming landscape. Gorgeous work. And they were so proud of themselves - I couldn't take enough pictures of them holding their artworks, it was absolutely lovely.
A touching moment was when one girl, who had just arrived the day before, who was too shy to do anything but watch finally picked up a paintbrush (well I may have put it in her hand). She did a lovely figure painting all pinks and blues. You could just sense her feeling more settled and part of the group. The warden and I were both really pleased to see that.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
It’s been a busy Spring/Summer season at Creative Matters. The month of April saw our fearless leaders trek back to Nepal for almost 2 weeks to visit our mills, weavers, spinners and washers. Quality control is of the utmost importance to CMI and this is how we ensure beautiful carpets and samples. This brief chance to speak with the mill owners and weavers is best opportunity to mesh our visions and instructions, maintaining this strong partnership and that produces our custom carpets and our Aerial Collection.
After all of the work is done, on those long Nepalese days, Carol and Donna manage to find some spare moments to decompress. This comes back to us in the form of their beautiful photography that tells us at the studio in Toronto, a million stories.
May, June and July have provided busy days filled with artworks and colour-matching, samples and carpet installations. One of the most exciting events was the installation of the beautiful lobby carpet at the Soho Grand Hotel in New York.
The sleek new design lends itself beautifully to the chic, luxurious vibe that the Soho seems to float on. And working with Studio Sofield is always a pleasure (especially when the results are this beautiful!)
Now our water-logged summer seems to be in her home stretch as we look forward with anticipation and excitement to our next steps for 2009. Samples of the new additions to the Aerial Collection are trickling in and the buzz is starting to build as we look forward to Domotex 2010. Granted, the big day for Germany is in January, but we at Creative Matters know how fast time flies. This year the team will truly be taking pieces of Canada with them overseas – but that’s all that I’m going to give away.
If you want to see what I’m talking about, you’ll have to meet Creative Matters in Hanover for the launch...
Monday, March 23, 2009
The design team has been working hard on new additions to the Aerial Collection (some are in the sampling stages) and we’ve been toying with the idea of adding a second collection to our Creative Matters line of carpets, with a completely different look and feel. That’s under lock and key at the moment so, stay tuned to see what we come up with! Trust me, it’s going to be great.
We’re also excited to be in the throws of planning an event in April with the lovely people at Modern Weave to celebrate our successful collaboration and creative merging of the minds, if you will. Modern Weave, along with their sister store Weavers Art, carry our entire Aerial Collection of wool and silk carpets in various sizes and colourways. They are continually supportive of what we do and they have a breath-taking showroom so if you haven’t seen our carpets in the flesh (or fibre) head to King Street East for a peek. For those of you in the trade, visit one of 3 Weavers Art locations in Designers Walk or on Davenport Road or Bedford Road all in Toronto (see the website for details).
I know it’s short but hopefully this post piques your interest. Before you know it, the season of bare feet will be upon us – what better time for a wool and silk carpet, hmmm? The carpet above has some nice Spring appeal - nothing like a bright, cheerful botanical to freshen things up. (You can check out this one in the December 2008 The World of Interiors, December 2008 article "Made for Manhattan" with Studio Sofield)
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Ana and I landed in Germany on Wednesday, January 14th and went straight to the Deutsche Messe, where the show was being held. Running on sheer adrenaline and 3hrs sleep, we excited to see how the booth looked...and it was beautiful and glamourous and we were extatic! Our massive crate, containing our goods and supplies was there too - things were falling into place nicely...all we needed now were the rugs. We held our breath and waited and finally the rugs arrived (direct from Nepal)...looking terrific.
We did our best to lay the ground work for the next day which included vaccuuming and hanging the carpets and setting up the rest of the booth and then decided that this long day was beginning to give up its fight. Our trip to the hotel was fairly smooth, although I must admit, my brain was working in overdrive to remember exactly where the little inn was located.
The next day we were back at the Messe at 9 and Carol and Donna arrived just after noon. We got to work, turning our canvas into art, hanging carpets and setting up shop. We delivered our carpet to "floorforum", an area devoted to trends in the modern carpets and textile floor coverings industry was designed internationally renowned designer Ulf Moritz. This year the categories were reserved for design, structure and colour. Creative Matters was selected to contribute 3 entries this year - all under the category of "design". Throughout the show, visitors were invited to vote for their favourite - a "peoples choice" award, if you will - and who better to choose the best carpet? :)
Next up - deliver Nova Platinum - our Carpet Design Award nominated master-piece. It must have been quite a site...4 Canadian women traipsing through 4 separate halls, lugging 80 square feet of pure wool and silk, in what appeared to be a little carpet train. After a slight detour, we found our destination in Hall 15 and left our CDA hopeful in the capable hands of Hali/Modern. Sorry, no pics of this area - highly secure and classified, just the way we like it. Trust me, Nova Platinum looked gooooood on its own little personal stage.
The next day the Domotex team arrived at the booth ready to work , reconnect and meet new faces - our neighbors for the next 5 days. We were excited about our beautiful booth and our prospects with the new Aerial Collection. You'll have to stay tuned for the results of the awards!
Until then -
Monday, January 12, 2009
Happy New Year! Gutes Neues Jahr!
It's January 2009! We're packing our bags/crates/boxes for Domotex in Hanover, Germany in preparation for our international launch of the additional pieces to our Aerial Collection.
Domotex is one of the largest carpet focused trade shows in the world, featuring a diverse range of offerings, presented by some 1,350 exhibitors from 60 different nations.
And here's an exciting tidbit - we've received news that we are short listed for an award! We're crossing our fingers. In the words of the organizers:
"These awards are given for innovative design, creativity and quality in the handmade carpet sector. The CDA are the benchmark for this industry and the place to showcase new trends".
As well, 3 of our rugs have been chosen for "floorforum", designed by the internationally renowned designer Ulf Moritz. This is an area of the show that is reserved to showcase trend and innovation in the carpet design field and we're delighted and flattered to be a part of it. Again in the words of the organizers:
The theme is "less is more", and the focus here is on the natural, tactile quality of textured carpets, which bring warmth and feeling to any room with their subdued colours, restful patterns and their suitability for any setting. Dramatic textures and natural textiles are seen from a new angle here in a sensitively staged display.
Carol, Donna, Erin and Ana, will be welcoming international visitors to our booth in Hall 3 Stand 54, and look forward to positive feedback for the Aerial Collection. It is an amazing fair with every type of carpet imaginable, available from vendors worldwide. We look forward to sharing our experiences and the information on new innovative products upon our return. If we get a second, we'll try to post some pics and info while we're there!
See you! auf Wiedersehen!
Friday, October 10, 2008
Good morning everyone!
The countdown is on to win Hariti, Tibetan for “Protectress of Children”, an original and responsible, luxury rug designed by Creative Matters.
All proceeds from the raffle go directly to RugMark, a non-profit organization working to end child labour in South East Asia. The cost of only two tickets ($50.00) offers a child a full year of education.
If you have already purchased a ticket for Hariti, here is a great photo of the hand made wool and silk area rug, graced by furniture courtesy of Klaus by Nienkamper.
Visit the Creative Matters blog for the inspiration and progress of this journey. Send a child to school, give an opportunity for an educated future and hope to win Hariti.
Click Here to Purchase your Ticket for Hariti!
Have a great weekend and keeping checking in for more updates!
Monday, October 6, 2008
We were delighted to see one of our projects on the cover of October 2008 Metropolitan Home this month titled "Asian Fusion". Working with the talented Shamir Shah on this Soho apartment, we assisted on textures and offered suggestions on some of the natural fibers. Needless to say, the rug was woven at one of our RugMark certified mills in Nepal. The striped rug was a combination of wool, hemp and silks in browns and gold tones with a bright persimmon accent.
Beautiful photos, beautiful magazine - here are a few shots of the residence and carpet taken by Met photographer Antoine Bootz.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Donna and I went to the RugMark facilities today to see with our own eyes where the children are living who have been rescued from the looms and factories in Kathmandu. It's a four storey building with a large playground that was, unfortunately, not usable at the time. It's rainy season here in Nepal so full of puddles, but one can imagine great games of soccer taking place. Many of the residents are young boys, as they are the more valuable child workers because they are strong at a young age. However, there are a number of girls here.
We were introduced to one lovely young girl, probably around the age of 11, who had been rescued just the day before. She had already woven 2 rugs but now has a chance for an education and a better life. She was not yet dressed in the uniform that all the children wear, a maroon shirt with navy pants. Boys and girls alike wear the same.
We toured all the facilities, from the bedrooms, which look a little like what we have in summer camp. There are bunk-beds in each room with around 10 beds in per space. The rooms were very clean and very tidy, the blankets all rolled up at the head of each bed with the pillow, shoes carefully lined up at the door. There's a cupboard for additional clothing, but these children do not have any personal items.
School books for studying were on some of the beds, rest time for some includes math review. There is a library where the children all meditate for half an hour each day, then can read and enjoy quieter games. The kitchen, which had delicious smells wafting through, was staffed by a number of women, and there was a room adjacent that was the dining hall. In total there are about 40 children at this facility.
In the kitchen however, there were 5 older boys who had gone through the program at RugMark, had completed their Grade 12 level and now have sponsors for university in Kathmandu. It looked like they'd returned for a homecooked meal!
The three classrooms are simple with schoolbooks, tables and benches and a blackboard. The children are fast tracked to grade three level and depending on their competency they either continue on for the potential of university education with help from sponsors or are trained for vocational work such as carpentry.
We discussed with the managers about the cost of each student's education, and for around $50.00/ year they recieve their uniforms, school books and education. That works out to two tickets for the raffle of Hariti. Imagine, 2 tickets sends a child to school for one year! It was a great tour and wonderful to see the facilities. We are delighted to see first hand the great work being done by RugMark and feel so good about contributing directly to helping the children.
Namaste, Carol and Donna
Friday, August 22, 2008
On Tuesday we were able to visit a factory where the hand carding and hand-spinning of the beautiful Tibetan yarn takes place. After watching the skilled women who turn a pile of fluff into weaving yarn we tried our hand at it. Now, having seen it, first hand, we appreciate much more, the skill of the spinners. By hand they feed the yarn onto a simple spinning wheel. It is their shear skill and manipulation of the yarn that determines the fineness of the wool, super fine (like sewing thread) for 200 knot construction, a little thicker for 100 knot, thicker still for 60 knot. Incredible! We had quite a few laughs as Donna and I produced lumpy, broken, completely unusable yarn.
The group went on to explain all the ways the yarn can be spun. Most commercially and quickly is by using the spinning wheel. But we were also shown very simple ways that work too, like using a pencil, then using a spinning top that the shepherds use in the fields while tending their sheep. One of the women then showed us her Tibetan traditional robe that was woven from very fine hand spun yarn. Part of theTibetan costume is an apron of multi coloured stripes woven on narrow looms (6" wide) and sewn together. She showed us her tradtional piece, still well in use.
When the yarn comes in to be spun, it arrives from the hill stations in packages. It gets sorted into piles of white best yarn (from the underbelly of the sheep), to brown yarn (from the back) and to yarn that cannot be used (from behind the head). The best yarn is silky and smooth, and can be dyed to any colour. The brown yarn is good for flecky rugs and is also smooth but cannot be used for clean colours.
The wool from the back of the neck is like the white hairs on our heads - it's dead and has no lanolin or softness at all. The yarn is then washed and dried in the open air. Generally on the roof of the houses, which looks like a blanket of snow, even with icicles of wool dripping off the edge roof.
This is just one aspect of the many skilled portions of what goes into the hand made rugs we order. Every time I come to the Nepal I find I learn more and further appreciate the craftsmanship and detail that goes into our rugs.
See you Monday!
Carol and Donna
Check back soon for more stories and photos from the trip!
Have a great weekend!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Nepal never ceases to amaze.
Donna and I went to the carpet mills today. Theoretically rainy season but the rain seems to conveniently fall at night and the days are glorious with some sun and then huge clouds rolling over the Himalayas to blanket Kathmandu valley. Driving in Kathmandu is exciting. Quite frequently a cow will interrupt traffic and it is a terrible crime to hit a cow as they are holy. If they decide to stop and lie down in the middle of the highway, so be it. It's hard to describe the loose relaxed driving style in Kathmandu. There are traffic police at particularly busy intersections, which helps a lot, but otherwise one just moves through the traffic flow and magically it seems to work. Donna and I dart across the street, we clearly have not
mastered the relaxed manner.
We saw Hariti today for the first time. It's fantastic - the colours in the silk and wool just dance off the floor. The weavers at the factory, who made the rug, were intrigued with the concept that a photo from here (Nepal) was turned into a design and then a 6' x 9' rug. The translation from photo to artwork and now to finished rug is really exciting. The gleam from the broach that the child was wearing in the photo really sparkles in the finished piece. It was expected that Hariti would be in mid-production, upon our arrival. We could have been dreaming it but, were the weavers were so intrigued about production of this exciting rug that they finished it in half the time?
That's all for now,
gotta go and meet Dawa,
Stay tuned for more from Nepal. We're all so curious about Hariti...maybe they can squeeze her
into their carry-on?
Until next time,
Thursday, July 17, 2008
So, what better day for a little bit of summer excitement than today, to see Creative Matters splashed over a full page (L3 to be exact) of the Living section in the Toronto Star. It’s a great article called "Rug Designers at Top of Pile" by Star columnist Barbara Turnbull, who graced our office in early June to speak to Carol and Donna about just what it is that we do. Barbara chats with the ladies about design, colour, what we’re up to now and about Creative Matters’ impressive 20-year mark. It's a great read and a great photo (thanks to Keith Beaty at the Toronto Star).
Stay tuned for more updates on Hariti – we hope to show off some photos soon, after the ladies return from their trek to Nepal in August.
Enjoy the sun!
(and buy more carpets!)
Monday, June 16, 2008
So I was terrified.
I drove downtown, arrived at 5:30 - there were no coffee shops open (not even Starbucks)!?, so there I sat, in the lobby of the CBC building fretting, until 5:50 when I was asked to show up. I was constantly reading my notes, getting the facts and figures memorized about child labour in carpet mills and the political upheavals in Nepal. I felt like I was in high school getting ready for a big exam and just like an exam, they reminded me that I couldn't read from my notes - sigh.
They kindly gave me my first question before I entered the recording studio. I go blank. I have to call my business partner Donna to get her input. Yup, 6:00 a.m., but she's a trooper and she's up ready to listen. I realize that I don't know what else Andy is going to ask and now the veil of fear starts to overcome me.
Anyway, I go into the studio, Andy and I have a little chat while the news is being reported (somewhere else in the huge CBC building), he's inquiring about websites and cruises our site while he asks me a few questions. Then the fellow tells me how close to be to the microphone (around 7") and I'm frozen in position ready to roll.
Cue the sound, Andy gives the intro, and we chat for a few minutes. Andy asks me about child labour in Asia, if I'd witnessed it, and I had to say no - but I'm not so naive to think that just because I'd been there it wasn't possibly happening. This is why we're so excited to be working with Rugmark. I explain how the mills put on the labels that are carefully monitored and each number can be traced to the loom and weavers who made it. How the inspectors go into the mills unannounced to ensure there is no child labour and our initiative of Hariti and the raffle are explained matter-of-factly.
Doing our part to end child labour, and ensuring that our rugs are made under sound working conditions has become really important to me. I'm thrilled to be able to tell our clients that the rugs they get are made by adult weavers. It feels so rewarding to be able to provide good employment not only in Canada with the great team that I work with, but as well, to the weavers in Nepal.
All in all it was an extremely exciting opportunity to be on the radio show I listen to every morning.
Afterwards - I had to go home for a nap.
Photographer: Romano / Stolen Childhoods (courtesy of RugMark)