Fine Art becomes Rug Design/Interview with Danielle David Grinnen

By Carolyn Edlund

AS:  You started out as a painter. How did you get involved with rug design?

DG: A common thread in my life has been an innate love for color, texture and balance. I have always enjoyed vivid color combinations, creative use of texture and an intrinsic sense of balance in all of nature.

In college, as I took painting, design and art history classes I began to consciously realize that I saw the world with an artist’s eye. I began to find the use of painting with texture an intuitive and vibrant, unexpected colors together essential to my work as an artist.

This love for balance, color and texture translated into my design work for Randall J. Kipp Architecture in Irvington, Virginia.  All throughout working in interior design, I continued pursuing my own creativity. Having sourced many area rugs for clients, I was intrigued by the way that the color and texture of rugs lent itself to painting. So in 2004, I began researching having area rugs made.

AS:  Could you tell us about the rug weaving industry in South East Asia, and why you work with the GoodWeave organization?

DG: I wanted my rugs to be beautifully handmade of quality materials. As I researched, I found there was a lot of corruption in the rug industry with exploitative child labor.  Essential to my work was that people were treated fairly and the making of each rug was done with integrity from start to finish.  I found out about the RugMark USA foundation that certifies rugs with the GoodWeave label and its quest to end child labor in the rug industry of South East Asia. GoodWeave offers a holistic approach to the problem of child labor.

In the summer of 2005, I began Deliante Designs LLC and proudly became a licensee of RugMark so each of my rugs carries the Good Weave certification label. Thus began my work with a wonderful carpet mill in Kathmandu, Nepal and started the making of my paintings into hand knotted carpets in the Tibetan weave.

AS:  How does the process of ordering custom rugs work?

DG: Modern design meets ancient craft. The collaborative process of creating a custom rug begins with a simple conversation about the space that the rug will reside-color, size, style, and concept. I may go to your space for inspiration or just receive images from you if the place is far away. Then I will go back to my studio and create design ideas by painting and drawing; this usually takes two to three weeks.

The designs are presented and together we can tweak design ideas. We choose colors, materials, pile height, size and knot count. Deliante Designs rugs are created of beautiful materials such as Tibetan wool, Chinese Silk, hemp, nettle, Pashmina wool and New Zealand Wool. A strike off, usually a 2’ x 2’ foot section of the rug, can be made to be sure that the color and design is exactly right.

After the final design is confirmed, a contract is signed. The design is sent to my carpet mill in Nepal where the materials have been hand carded, hand spun and are ready to be hand dyed to the colors we have chosen. The rug is hand knotted on the loom by expert adult artisans. I keep you apprised during this entire process all the way to its arrival to your space.

AS:  How have you marketed your work?

DG: Though the business side of the art world is notoriously elusive for artists, the intuitive, problem-solving aspects of the creative mind make having an artist-run business a real possibility. Every marketing attempt has been a constant learning process to make the entire business work.

I have participated in trade shows on the East and West coasts. My rugs appear in major home magazines such as “Dwell” and “Architectural Digest” and in more regional magazines like “Virginia Living”.  Recently, I have found making phone calls and sending emails to architectural and design firms has given me inroads, getting opportunities to present my rugs to groups of architects and designers and in smaller one-on-one settings. When people actually see, walk on and touch the rugs, they sell themselves.

AS:  What resources have you used that helped take your business to the next level?

DG: One of the most helpful and recent resources that I have found is the Right Brain Business Plan (RBBP) by Jennifer Lee of Artizen Coaching.  Click here to visit Artizen Coaching. In spring 2009, I took the eight-week RBBP teleclass put on by Jennifer Lee and Ariane of SmARTtist. Previously, I created a very left-brained business plan by talking to friends, accountants, bankers and working with the Small Business Association in my area. This initial plan was helpful at the time to acquire funds to have sample rugs made and other start up costs, but I was in dire need of a refreshed look at Deliante Designs.  RBBP was exactly what I needed to allow me to work from my creative, intuitive strengths to create a visual business plan that really spoke to where my business is headed now. Click here to view more details

A few other blogs that I have found particularly helpful:

The Art of Nonconformity by Chris Guillebeau inspires me to live in a way that allows for creativity, business and caring for other people.

White Hot Truth by Danielle LaPorte pushes me to unashamedly promote myself and my business.

Find Deliante Designs rugs at

Metro Modern

Coastal Fog

World of Good

Charlton Bradsher

Rug Materials and Vocabulary:

–        Tibetan wool has extremely high lanolin content because the wool comes from sheep that reside in the high altitude of the Himalayan Mountains making it incredibly lustrous, naturally stain resistant and highly durable because of its high lanolin content.

–        Hemp and Nettle are derived from plants and very durable.

–         Pile Height- length of the material from the knot to the where it is cut. 4mm, 6mm, 8mm and 10 mm are common pile heights

–         Materials– Tibetan wool, Chinese silk, Hemp, Nettle, Pashmina wool, New Zealand wool, banana silk, etc.

–         Knot count– number of knots per square inch. 60, 80, 100, 150+ per square inch.

–         Vegetable Dyes– Eco-Friendly dyes have been used for thousands of years to create beautiful colors. These dyes create variation in the color allowing each rug to be unique. Expect a 5% variation in the color.

–         Swiss Chemical Dyes– Metal free dyes that create very precise color.

–         Color Choices – POM boxes with hundreds of colors to choose from as well as the opportunity to match any fabric or paint swatch.

Comments

  1. Great interview, Danielle. I’m so excited for the growth of your business. Thanks for the mentions.

  2. She is doing a great job, and it’s to your credit Jennifer that your students are so successful!

  3. Check out another article on Danielle’s rug designs at http://www.bit.ly/dzluqi

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