a conversation with Christopher Farr

"A slow and deliberate process that allowed for an honest and inimitable collection that speaks entirely of their integrity throughout the stages of selection, translation and manufacturing."

"The question as ever is one of excellence and quality as opposed to medocrity and plagiarism these forces battle it out and occasionally you see something breathtaking."

748 N. La Cienega Boulevard Los Angeles...

Last week, I spent the afternoon absorbed in the works of
Christopher Farr's Omega Group Collection. Tucked away down a small walkway is Christopher Farr's showroom, two floors of color, historical stories, fabrics samples, and inspiration in every room. Christopher Farr's work inspires so many designers for obvious reasons: pure beauty and a commitment to historical and contemporary artistic discoveries.

He has collaborated with design icons such as Ilse Crawford, John Pawson, Allegra Hicks, Gunta Stolz, and Gary Hume, to name only a few. I'm honored to have had this conversation with him, and hope that the future will lead to more conversations with him about his various styles of workings, and mediums.

Thank you Christopher, Christina, and Joe..... - David John

a detail shot of one of the rugs....

Christopher Farr selects a series of existing designs by the Omega Group, and brings them back to life in a series of 5 exceptional rug creations, based on the designs of Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and other key members of the Omega Workshop and Bloomsbury collective from 1912-1919.

Christopher Farr has chosen to work with some of the most beautiful and challenging of the Omega designs. This is testimony to the Omega artists’ design abilities in that they were able to create works of art that also function perfectly as rugs."

"The Omega Workshop were
a laboratory of design ideas, creating a range of objects for the home, from rugs and linens to ceramics, furniture and clothing ­ all boldly coloured with dynamic abstract patterns."

upstairs at the showroom...
until Nov 19, 2011

Who are the OMEGA Workshop, and why is their work relevant today?

Christopher Farr: The Omega Workshop was an experiment conducted by the founder Roger Fry. An important aspect was practical in that it enabled the well educated but cash poor artists to earn a living with as little compromise and as much enjoyment as possible. Omega is relevant today in terms of it's spirit and spontaneity as opposed to the contrived cleverness of so much of the output of today's art and design practitioners.

Did you grow up in London? Do you feel that British Design is different from American Design?

Farr: Yes I'm a Londoner by birth and have lived there most of my life. I relate to European design more as I know it better.The difference for me is that product design is celebrated much more in Europe, in the US it seems that interior designers are lauded and to a lesser extent architects. If you go back to the fifties and sixties I would say American designers and architects were easily as influential and perhaps more famous than their European counter parts.

How you are able to translate images to rugs? What are the obstacles and difficulties that arise?

Farr: The success of making historic designs is dependent on our understanding of the essence of the art you're working with. The process is basically a series of questions and sampling till it feels close to the spirit of the artist. I try to imagine myself in dialogue with the artist. It's a slow and painstaking business but deeply satisfying.

You have an ability to control, energize, and define color. Would you call yourself a colorist? Any artists who use color you look to as inspiration?

I find any self definition limiting so no I'm not a colorist as such. I try to stay as open as possible when I'm drawing as if I'm a kid playing with a cardboard box. As for artists well the usual suspects... Joseph Albers, Mark Rothko, Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse Sonia Delaunay .....

the studio wall of color! colors fading & communicating.....

You've had a history of incredible collaborations. What does collaborating mean to you? Any specific one that you are especially proud?

Collaborating means to surrender ones slavery to ego in order to listen and understand another artists process. I'm proud of all the collaborations, and if I had to pick standouts it would be Kate Blee of the living artists and Gunta Stolzl of the dead ones.

In your art studio, what do you find yourself creating? What mediums seduce you?

Black ink drawings by the hundred and painting both acrylic and oil. I also play with tape.

How has the rug business changed in time from when you began?

The contemporary rug business has moved from almost zero when I started in 1984 to a status of dominance - you only have to look at the editorial and advertising then and now to see how dramatic it has been. The question as ever is one of excellence and quality as opposed to medocrity and plagiarism these forces battle it out and occasionally you see something breathtaking.

samples of Christopher Farr cloth....

Christopher Farr has been at the spearhead of contemporary rug design for over twenty years. Together with his business partner Matthew Bourne, they were the catalyst that revolutionised contemporary rug design. Starting with a small shop in a leafy area of north London, a stone's throw from Primrose Hill, this one time painter, trained at the Slade School, wrought a vision that combined the art of the times with a different form. From cool minimalism to bold neo-expressionism influenced by the artists Ryman, Albers and Martin, his medium was no longer oil on canvas, but wool and dye, spun and woven by hand into objects that were more than mere floor coverings. They were themselves works of art.