Cultured Magazine

Fall 2014

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80 CULTURED Textile designer Inigo Elizalde had it all figured out—until he got locked inside a room full of poms. BY JULIA COOKE PORTRAIT BY DALE SANTOS JABAGAT Inigo Elizalde had every intention of opening an art-direction firm. After spending years in that role at Rafe, earning a degree in painting from RISD and several other creative stints in New York and his native Philippines, he thought he had found his path. Then, fate intervened. On what was supposed to be a quick trip home to Manila, Elizalde ran into a friend who owned a rug mill and had once offered him a job. "She basically kidnapped me and threw me into a room with a zillion poms," says Elizalde. "I went bananas." Instead of art direction, Elizalde launched a rug collection, which now, five years later, clads the floors of homes from Manila to Manhattan. He's collaborated with architects such as Rafael de Cárdenas and Peter Marino and companies including Dior and Baccarat. And one of his designs is installed at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York as part of the "NYC Makers" exhibit, on view through October 12. Not surprisingly, Elizalde's background in painting and graphic design shows prominently in his rugs. His first collection focused on textural photographs of found objects and natural phenomena, manipulated: paint drying off a wall, magnified, in thick black-and-white weave (Berry Hill); a flattened monochrome image of trees at Whistler Blackcomb (Blackcomb); a stingray's skin (Stingray). Intervening collections have drawn from traditional Filipino patterns, maps of rice terraces, images of the Jeepneys on which locals traverse Manila and embroidery patterns. In each, varied materials, from wool and bamboo to nettle, cactus and recycled Lurex, bring a sculptural element into the room. All are made by hand in Nepal. Elizalde's most recent collection was supposed to focus on Art Deco patterns, but, once again, a twist in fate shifted its outcome. "We couldn't figure it all out, technically," he says. "In the middle of this process, our building had a power surge and all of our computers had glitches running across them. I walked past my assistant's computer and shouted, 'Screengrab!'" The resulting rugs feature abstracted images of computer glitches in rich yellows and pinks on lush ombre backdrops, which channel some of the line's original Art Deco intent. Others have a more graphic feel, with blacks, grays and golds on solid white or blue. It's not art directing per se, but Elizalde is certainly directing his works of art nonetheless. Inigo Elizalde wrapped up in one of his signature rug designs. Twist in Fate

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